At Syracuse University, some folx are feeling unseen.
“As an incoming freshman,” the writer of the piece recalls, “the part of college I was most looking forward to was using this new environment to fully come out as agender, using they/she pronouns.”
Throughout my college admissions process, SU had been one of the schools that most consistently oriented itself as a safe space for LGBTQIA+ students, touting its wide range of resources and emphasis on an inclusive community.
“Within two days,” however, the author was “disillusioned.”
Out of six classes this semester, with five being seminar-sized, I only had one professor ask us to introduce ourselves with our pronouns.
Even so, hope reared its head:
I was disappointed, until my First-Year Seminar professor informed our class about the setting in MySlice that allowed students to indicate their preferred pronouns. Finally, I had a way to make sure that my pronouns would be known and respected.
The enrollee “found the pronoun tool” and expanded its menu.
Pitifully, the list was incomplete.
It only allowed for “he/him,” “she/her,” “they/them,” and “ze/hir.” Otherwise, there were merely “Use My Name” and “Ask Me.”
For a brief moment, I thought maybe the menu would allow me to select more than one option, but this quickly proved untrue.
Holy grail, wherefore art thou:
The tool I thought would be the holy grail of inclusion and respect in my classes (and beyond) simply did not have a space for my identity.
Syracuse is slacking:
A great deal of SU students use mixed pronouns, some of whom have shared similar experiences and feelings surrounding this lack of awareness.
One attendee indicated he/they now feels “a bit less seen.” “I was surprised at how few options there were,” he/they said.
Another student is even questioning her/their validity:
“I feel very invalidated. … Sometimes I feel that I will never be able to present and be seen as genderqueer. To me, it cements the idea that I must be certain in my gender, or that gender expansiveness is unprofessional.”
And on top of it all:
These students…expressed that very few, if any, professors have asked for their pronouns. One member of the class of 2022 who uses they/he/ze pronouns said that only one of their professors had asked the class to share pronouns, which was about the same for most other students interviewed.
It’s an increasingly sophisticated era. So far as I know, our gender rejuvenation marks the first time in post-segregation America when people have intentionally made interaction more complex.
How are we to keep up with everyone’s extra names, i.e., their chosen pronouns? It’s a whole different data set to store.
And the options are ever-evolving.
Not long ago, “she/her” and “he/him” got some company:
- Co, co, cos, cos, coself
- En, en, ens, ens, enself
- Ey, em, eir, eirs, emself
- Xie, hir, hir, hirs, hirself
- Yo, yo, yos, yos, yoself
- Ze, zir, zir, zirs, zirself
- Ve, vis, ver, ver, verself
You may also know of “noun-self pronouns,” such as bun/bunself,” “kitten/kittenself,” “prin/cess/princesself,” and “innit/innits/innitself.”
Per LGBTQ+ Wiki, we now welcome “emojiself pronouns”:
These are used solely online, but can be translated into regular words for use in real life. For example, 🍄/🍄self pronouns might become shroom/shroomself or mushroom/mushroomself pronouns.
And for advanced users:
A possible form of neopronouns which is constantly changing from pronoun to pronouns such as:
“When she goes to the market he will grab the milk, then the eggs and then some tomatoes and ve will pay for all of the groceries.”
In the past, sex was all that separated us; there was no such thing as “identity.” As I’ve previously posed, people didn’t walk around thinking, “I am a boy.” Neither did they walk around contemplating, “I am a girl.” Nor did they walk around telling themselves, “I am a catself.”
Rather, they just…walked around.
As for being “seen,” such seems to me an internet-lathered idea.
To anyone aching for affirmation from their screen: You don’t exist because you’re on electronic display. Turn off the computer; put away the smartphone; take off your Apple Watch. Walk into the woods.
That’s as webwide “seen” as any of us were naturally meant to be.
Or perhaps I’m massively mistaken. Either way, if Syracuse wants to compete and impress, it’s going to have to catch up to the modern man/woman/other — and respect vers mushroomself.
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