Colorado's top public university says that people should address new acquaintances as transgender until otherwise instructed and that ignoring someone's pronouns is "an act of violence."
"Sometimes people just don't want to share their pronouns and that's fine," says the University of Colorado Boulder's "pronouns" guide. "Usually it's safe to use they/them/theirs unless that person tells you otherwise."
"It is never safe to assume someone's gender and living a life where people will naturally assume the correct pronouns for you is a privilege that not everyone experiences," the guide says.
These are just some of the directions from University of Colorado Boulder's Center for Inclusion and Social Change, which also claims that terms like "ze" and "zir" are legitimate ways to refer to people. Boulder is the flagship University of Colorado campus and also the largest, with more than 36,000 students.
The university's instructions largely echo language guides from pro-transgenderism groups like the Trevor Project and Human Rights Campaign, which are now commonplace in academia, medicine, and even K-12 schools. University of Colorado Boulder's guide reflects academia's increasing devotion to radical gender ideology, as well as its attempts to rewrite rules of language for the public. The university also offers cross-sex hormone therapy, voice-training, and surgical sex changes, in addition to "all-gender" restrooms and locker rooms, where male and female students shower in the same facilities.
While a University of Colorado Boulder spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon that the site "was created by students, for students," the site gives no indication that students created it. The pronoun guide is under the heading of the university's "Pride Office," part of the Division of Student Affairs. The webpage for the guide includes a "Meet the Team" link to bios for Pride Office employees, none of whom are students.
The spokesman also said the university "recognizes that misgendering people, whether intentionally or not, can cause harm and feelings of disrespect and exclusion." The spokesman did not respond to follow-up questions about why the webpage does not indicate it was written by students and about whether the guide represents the university's position.
The webpage also encourages students to get comfortable with the "newer" pronouns like "ze" and "hir," and gives guidance on how to pronounce them.
"Ze is pronounced like Americans pronounce the letter 'z,' like 'zee,'" the guide says. "Hir is pronounced like 'here' and hirs is similar, but with an 's' on the end. There are many, many more than these out in the world. These are simply the most common. If you want to see more, Google is your best friend."
The guide warns students that failing to use proper pronouns "is not only an act of oppression but can also be considered an act of violence."
Update 1:16 p.m.: This piece has been updated with comment from a University of Colorado Boulder spokesman.
Update May 15, 1:24 p.m.: This piece has been updated with more context on the university's statement.