What Do The Pronouns Xe, Xem, And Xyr Mean?

February 27, 2016Feb 27, 2016

Have you ever hear of the pronouns xe, xem, and xyr?

Me neither, until I saw them in a recent story by Brown University's newspaper of record — The Brown Daily Herald — where a student is interviewed who insisted on using those pronouns.

Appearing in the story is the sentence: "Students were called out of class into organizing meetings, and xe felt pressure to help xyr peers cope with what was going on, xe said."

I read that sentence multiple times, and it still didn't make sense.

A Fox News opinion piece last year revealed that University of Tennessee-Knoxville's vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion Rickey Hall called on students and faculty members to use gender neutral pronouns like xe, xem, and xyr instead of "gender binary" terms like he, she, him, her, his, and hers.

If that's still confusing, here's a graph:


Donna Braquet, director of the university's Pride Center, said using gender neutral pronouns is needed because, "With the new semester beginning and an influx of new students on campus, it is important to participate in making our campus welcoming and inclusive for all. Instead of calling roll, ask everyone to provide their name and pronouns. You can always politely ask 'Oh, nice to meet you (insert name). What pronouns should I use?’"

If you think this is absurd, you're not alone.

Republican State Sen. Mae Beavers commented, “It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. If you must interview a student before you greet the student, that’s not acceptance — that’s just absurd. This isn’t inclusion. This is the radical transformation of our lives and language. It’s getting so crazy in this country.”