A statement released by the Oxford University students’ union has denied it instructed students to use “ze” pronouns.

An Oxford University student representative has denied that the university requires people to use the “ze” pronoun after The Times reported that a leaflet was distributed to students suggesting that they should look to use non-gendered pronouns.

A statement released by Jo Gregory-Brough stated that the information published was incorrect and that a leaflet had not been produced implying that all students must use “ze”.

Gregory-Brough said,

“As far as we’re aware, the information which has been published is incorrect. We have not produced a leaflet implying that all students must use ‘ze’ pronouns to refer to others, or indeed to themselves.”

 

However, the statement does suggest that there are other resources that are used by student leaders and welfare representatives, which,

“…alongside other information and tips, reminds individuals of the importance of not assuming the pronouns of their peers while also aiming to normalise stating pronouns in introductions.”

 

Jo Gregory-Brough outlined support for the trans community at the university by stating,

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“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.

Some critics have slammed the practice of adding pronouns to an introduction as a form of outing and forcing people to acknowledge their gender or sexual identity before they are ready to do so or enforcing a label upon themselves which may not feel comfortable.

The use of pronoun confirmation is “standard practice” according to Gregory-Brough who said it was “disappointing” that the media storm surrounding the story beset the union’s efforts to “ensure our trans students feel welcome within the Oxford community.”