Last week's update from the Bath Comms Team (always an informative though abbreviated read) urged us all to put our pronouns on our Teams Profile:
"At the University of Bath, we encourage staff and students to share their pronouns. Sharing your pronouns is a helpful way to inspire others to do the same. Normalising use of pronouns, regardless of your gender identity, is an important and simple way to promote allyship to those who identify as non-binary."
This will be tricky for me as I don't have a Teams Profile; nor, as far as I understand it, do I feel I have a gender identity which is neither innate nor universally experienced. So I went to the University's Kaleidoscope blog to see if that would help explain matters, but it didn't. So then I went to the pronouns and inclusivity guidance web page where I read this:
"Pronouns are the basic terms we use to refer to somebody when talking to someone else. A pronoun is a simple identifier for people, like ‘he’, ‘she’, or ‘they’, but it’s important to note that these aren’t the only ones available and some people prefer to use multiple (for example, ‘she/they’). Transgender and nonbinary people are likely to use pronouns which differ from the ones assigned to them at birth, but anyone can use a variation of ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’, a combination of these, or other pronouns entirely ..."
Well, I knew most of that and have been using gender inclusive language for 25 years or so, but one new idea for me stood out: the idea of pronouns being assigned at birth. Now I think about it, this is, of course, entirely correct and we've all heard, I guess, variations on "Isn't he lovely?" and "What beautiful eyes she's got", etc. Although few, I imagine, have ever said: "Isn't ey bonny?" where "ey' is one of the many pronoun options available; see: English neutral pronouns. Mind you, after reading this, you might think it easier just to stick to nouns particularly as they don't seem to offend the chronically easily offended.
"assigned at birth" is a phrase I come across a lot, but usually it's sex that's said to be so assigned. This is illiterate nonsense. Sex, which is binary and immutable, is determined at conception and confirmed at birth – quite a different thing, and one with impeccable conceptual and empirical underpinnings.
This really is biology 101.