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Articles falsely claim Oxford students instructed to use gender-neutral pronouns

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Over the weekend several articles emerged claiming that The University of Oxford student union office had distributed leaflets instructing students to use gender neutral pronouns when referring to other students. OUSU have just released a statement denying this. 

In the Statement, OUSU say that the sources referred to in many of the articles may in fact have been support documents used by student leaders and welfare representatives which do emphasise the importance of not assuming the pronouns of peers. 

"In this situation, and in light of the factual inaccuracies published, we would like to highlight that our support for trans students includes respecting neopronouns and non-binary identities.

"We would also like to clearly state that we would never tell anyone to use ‘ze’ pronouns instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ if ‘he’ or ‘she’ is the pronoun someone wishes to use. That would be misgendering and would likely have the biggest impact on individuals (ie, some trans students) who may already be struggling to get people to use ‘he’ or ‘she’ for them. It would be totally counterproductive."

This comes as part of a general movement within the university to make transgender and gender neutral students feel more included and to cut down on discrimination. Other moves to include gender-neutral students are becoming more frequent across the UK, like the introduction of gender neutral toilets in student union buildings which has been adopted by a wide range of universities. 
 
This would have been the first move of its kind within the UK, but a similar practice has already appeared in the US. In August, The University of Tenessee requested that tutors find out their students´ preferred pronoun and not assume 'he/she'. This has, so far, been successful. 
 
Additional reporting by Laurie Presswood 
Image by Chungkwan



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