Tom Gilson

Xe, Zir, Xyr: From “In Loco Parentis” to “Loco-Parental


University of Tennessee tells staff and students to stop using ‘he’ and ‘she’ | Daily Mail Online

They’re supposed to “start referring to one another with terms like ‘xe’, ‘zir’ and ‘xyr’ instead.”

A gay-rights administrator there said, “the new language regime will make the university ‘welcoming and inclusive’ and stop people feeling ‘marginalized’.”

The university did declare that the rules were not compulsory. Someone said they were absurd. I’d say that’s putting it mildly, but that would be putting it mildly.

Xe, Zir, Xyr: Not Marginalizing Anyone At All, Right?

The whole business of trying to protect students from feeling bad about anything (you’ve heard about “trigger warnings,” right?) isn’t just poor policy, it’s downright impossible. Some ideas and beliefs will always be off-center in any institution. Ham-handed attempts to prevent that from happening will only make administrators look absurd.

If I were a student there, this attempt to keep people from “feeling marginalized” would leave me feeling shoved right off the edge of the paper. The same goes for any student who agrees with the kind of views I hold.

“What’s that you say–that enlightened students in these days don’t hold th0se views? Oh, I’m sorry, and thanks for being so solicitous over our feelings of being marginalized. Not that you’d think it matters, but did you notice our feelings were matched by the reality you were creating? Maybe, since you said this would stop people from feeling marginalized, we don’t count as ‘people’. That’s not marginalizing us, right? Ri-i-ight.”


Colleges used to recognize a role called in loco parentis, meaning they stood in the place of parents, guiding students toward adulthood and the development of strong values, not just strong skills.

Now universities are strictly parental, and not in the sense of building adults, but more like protecting vulnerable pre-pubescent children. “Did they hurt you, my baby? Come sit on my lap while Mommy makes you feel better. Stay here while Daddy goes and gets those baddies for you.” Yup, these are the baddies: people who use English-language pronouns.

The idea reeks. If I were gay at UT I’d go in swinging at whoever said I needed the school nannying me this way. “What makes you think I need you to go all parental and protect me from people calling me ‘he’? How weak and wimpy and vulnerable do you think I am?!”

We’ve gone from “in loco parentis” to (borrowing the word from Spanish, not Latin this time) “loco-parental.Yes, I mean they’ve gone loco with this parental lunacy.

I can’t believe the real motivation behind this has anything to do with making people feel welcomed and included. I can only believe its purpose is to marginalize any disagreement with the gay-rights agenda.

Wait, what’s that again? It’s to “stop people feeling ‘marginalized’.” Guess what? It won’t work. How could it? It’s a clear attempt to marginalize anyone who believes differently about these things.

“Higher Education”

And it happened at a university–an institution of higher education. One of the goals there (one might suppose) should be to teach students how to think. Obviously, though, the administrators who thought this would “stop people feeling marginalized” failed to think it through. They’re trying to get students believing something that’s obviously self-contradictory.

Did I say this happened at a university? That’s not even middle school-level education. Any school that thinks any student should accept that nonsense without laughing at its illogic needs to quit referring to itself as as a place of higher education.

With any luck, this will drive away enough donors and students it will quit being an institution at all. Or better yet, its administrators will decide to use the brains they supposedly have as educators, and drop the whole idea.

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5 thoughts on “Xe, Zir, Xyr: From “In Loco Parentis” to “Loco-Parental

  1. Interesting article. I’ve found the issue of inclusivity at the forefront of many social establishments, particularly in universities. While visiting The New School in New York City, I was informed that the students and faculty abide by a policy in which they ask newcomers what their “preferred gender pronoun” (PGP) is, as opposed to making a visual assumption. One’s preferred gender pronoun can simply be “he/him, she/her, they/them,” or less frequently “it”. This is completely at the discretion of one’s self, and is not meant to reflect sexual orientation.

    For instance, upon my arrival at the school I was welcomed by an undergraduate resident adviser (clearly male) who informed me that his name was Jordan, and his preferred gender pronoun was “he or him”. Later that day, I found myself in a classroom of many, and among them was an androgynous young person. I would have assumed them to be male or female (probably incorrectly) if not for the volunteered “PGP”. This method appears to be completely inclusive as not at all presumptuous.

    I found the whole concept to be very well thought out and simple enough.. Perhaps the University of Tennessee could adopt this practice instead.

  2. This method appears to be completely inclusive as not at all presumptuous.

    Ouside, of course, of the inherent presumptuousness of believing that gender is something one chooses.

  3. Additional, there’s the presumption that when I refer to you as “he” or “she” that I’m referring to your self-identified gender rather than your biological sex. Why would a person do that?

    I’ve never had someone correct me on this issue, but if I do I think this is the approach I’ll take. When they realize that they misunderstood what I meant by “he” and “she” perhaps they will apologize.

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