University of Tennessee tells staff and students to stop using 'he' and 'she' - and switch to 'xe', 'zir' and 'xyr' instead

  • Gay rights official at Knoxville campus wrote new language instructions
  • Tells students and staff to use unusual, gender-neutral pronouns like 'xe'
  • Donna Braquet said that the new regime would make campus 'inclusive' 
  • University clarified that guidelines are not compulsory after critics called them 'absurd' 
The University of Tennessee has told its staff and students to stop calling each other 'he', 'she', 'him' and 'her' - and to start referring to one another with terms like 'xe', 'zir' and 'xyr' instead.

The Knoxville branch of the public university, which has 27,400 students, sent a memo round to its members filled with unusual new parts of speech to avoid referring to anybody's gender.

According to a gay rights official at the university, the new language regime will make the university 'welcoming and inclusive' and stop people feeling 'marginalized'.

New regime: Pictured above is a conversion table given to staff and students at the University of Tennessee's Knoville campus to instruct them in the use of non-gendered pronouncs
New regime: Pictured above is a conversion table given to staff and students at the University of Tennessee's Knoville campus to instruct them in the use of non-gendered pronouncs

The university published the instructions on its website on Wednesday after they were emailed to every member of the university by the institution's Vice Chancellor for Diversity.

Officials have since insisted the the guidelines are not compulsory and that they do not want to 'dictate speech'.

Donna Braquet, who runs the university's Pride Center, wrote the guidelines, which are accompanied with a long table demonstrating how to replace the regular parts of speech.