Congratulations, They Have Been Accepted: Brown University Uses “Gender-Inclusive” Pronoun In Its 2017 Acceptance Letter.

220px-BrownU-CoA.svgGender_differences_male_femaleWe have previously discussed how some schools are abandoning the use of traditional pronouns to reflect a growing list of possible genders for students.  Brown University has pushed these changes even further in its acceptance letters this year by using “they” as the “gender-inclusive” pronoun.  Thus the letter refers to “their” achievements when referring to the singular admitted student.  For many, the use of such plural pronouns for a single individual is confusing and ungrammatical.  However, the Associated Press recently adopted the use of “they” as a preferred pronoun in recognition of transexual and other individuals who may not be comfortable with traditional genders.

These new designations have led to an equally elastic list of pronouns.  So at the University of Vermont, students can choose “he,” “she,” “they,” and “ze,” as well as “name only.”  Other options are captures on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee card given to faculty and students:



A Brown spokesperson stated to the Wall Street Journal that “[w]hile the grammatical construction may read as unfamiliar to some, it has been adopted by many newsrooms and other organizations as a gender-inclusive option.”  It would seem more than “unfamiliar” but rather ungrammatical.
These moves are raising questions on the degree to which schools should accommodate a relatively small percentage of students who do not adhere to traditional genders.
What do you think?

68 thoughts on “Congratulations, They Have Been Accepted: Brown University Uses “Gender-Inclusive” Pronoun In Its 2017 Acceptance Letter.”

  1. Singular “they” has a long tradition going back at least to Chaucer.

    Even aside from that, I see no reason why adopting it into a style is problematic. Remember, in English most rules are stylistic, and ‘formal writing’ is another way of saying, ‘written in a consistent, defined style’. We don’t have an English Academy to proliferate rules, merely people adopting styles and sometimes agreeing to use the same style as a standard.

    Chicago and APA styles are examples of this. Notably, most major styles these days forbid irregular plurals, and in some cases have introduced regular English plurals (e.g. ‘cactuses’) to do so. Are they grammatically wrong for doing so? I say they are not, even while believing it’s kind of stupid.

  2. And Steven Wonder: “Isn’t they pretty! Isn’t they wonderful!”

  3. This ridiculous social movement is the outcome of people who were overly coddled in a modern, wealthy society. Like the individuals who are on a quest to find the perfect non-diary, gluten-free, non-GMO, free range, beer-feed and massaged, organic, pedigreed food, the “they” people need to recognize the benefits of living out their existence in the United States. Perhaps a day or two picking through garbage for “food” in the slums of India or avoiding being thrown from a rooftop in the wore torn country of Syria would snap them back to reality.

  4. Obviously, the solution is to refer to everyone as “muhfukka,” which conveniently works in all situations. Just ask anyone in Oakland or Atlanta.

    I can’t believe how silly this has all gotten, and how disturbing that it’s so quickly shoved down everybody’s throats.

    I was really hoping Jordan Peterson’s battle against this in Canada would get better traction before it took over here in the U.S.

  5. All this and we still have an inconclusive second person pronoun problem. Guess we should just opt for some sort of southern solution. How’s that sit with you… errrr, ya’ll???

    1. “Ya’ll” is inappropriate in formal or professional writing. The second person actually used to distinguish singular and plural. Thou/thee/thy/thine was the singular. That withered away because English speakers found they could do just as well without it; which is exactly the reason these so-called gender-inclusive pronouns have no future. You can’t really legislate linguistic usage. University bureaucrats need to learn that the gender-inclusive crowd is really just trying to put one over on them. The rest of us don’t have to be dumb enough fall for it.

        1. I called mine “y’all” (Univ. of Texas and UVA) and sometimes “you guys.”

          1. Jay – ‘you guys’ worked for me, too. Although, once in a while a female student would complain. Didn’t do them any good. I am resistant to change.

  6. How is the denial of one’s birth gender different from a religious movement? Certainly it’s identical in its claim to a position of authority over those who disagree, denial of known and accepted science in favor of a particular dogma/doctrine, and discrimination in the face of those who disagree.

  7. In the 60’s in California there was a cult that thought the key to happiness was to deny the existence of the “self.” My friend’s wife was a member. She would ask for tea, thusly: “This one thinks that it would like a cup of tea.” Why not just go full-on “it” with the gender undecideds?

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