One year after the ESHCC’s guide to gender-inclusive languages: ‘Nobody in the class asked about my pronouns’

Sintija (21) grew up in Latvia and did not find it the most stimulating environment for people to explore their gender identity. “I had to deal with a lot of internalized misogyny and was very candid about maintaining gender binary.”

After Sintija started International Bachelor Communication and Media, they were first surrounded by ‘open-minded and more progressive people’. “I talked to them a lot and asked questions about their views on gender. I started reading more about it and did more research, which I was able to do thanks to Erasmus, because academic articles are expensive. ”

Sintija believes that Erasmus University and the open-minded university community have helped to discover their non-binary identity. Yet no one has asked Sintija about their pronouns during a working group or lecture. Sintija was also unaware that her faculty has a manual for gender-inclusive language use.

Art and culture student Kim (22) was also not asked about his place words at the faculty. “It takes so little effort to ask someone what their pronouns are, but in all the years I’ve studied here, no one has,” Kim says. Kim uses all pronouns, so such a situation is a little more bearable for her, but Kim understands that this “can feel very suffocating for some people.”

Caro (21) is a non-binary student at the Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and strongly recognizes this feeling. “Before I get mine dead name 1 In the system, I sent an email to my teachers before the first lecture, telling them that my name is Caro and what my pronouns are. I had to do it again for each new topic. “

The first time a workgroup teacher asked Caro about their pronouns and used them correctly “was very special, especially because it took a while before it happened again,” Caro explains. “It was really important to me. It made me feel welcome in academia. You don’t see many non-binary people elsewhere, but they are especially underrepresented in academia. The fact that this teacher asked for my pronouns and used them, really confirmed to me that I belong here, that I belong to a higher education. ”

“I believe teachers need to be aware of the role they play in creating a safe teaching environment,” said Ana Uribe Sandoval, teacher and one of the authors of the Gender-Inclusive Language Guide. “When I say ‘I use these pronouns,’ I do not force anyone to share their pronoun, but I invite people to tell me if they would prefer to be pronounced with another pronoun. Then they know they can come to me, and that this conversation is taken seriously, and that this subject can be discussed in this lecture hall. ”

Chiara Modugno, a teacher in the Media and Communication Department, was not aware of the existence of the manual and believes that her direct colleagues are not either. But before the manual was published, she used a gender-inclusive language in her classes. “I have done this from the beginning of my career as a teacher. I think it’s normal, maybe because I also research gender and diversity. “

During the introductory round at the beginning of each subject, Chiara asks her students about their names and pronouns. “Many students tell me that they appreciate me asking about their place words. I was a little surprised by that, because it means she is not always asked about it. Apparently, not everyone in all colleges has the same experience. “

Lotte (23), a graduate student at the Rotterdam School of Management, encourages people to ask others in a room about their place words. She has never experienced this exchange of pronouns at her faculty. And when the ’round pronouns’ occur in another situation, Lotte often has the thought that they are only finished because she is there. “Oh yes, there is the trans person whose pronouns we already know. Let’s ask the rest too!” rewrites Lotte.

“It is important that we know how people want to be prosecuted, but one must not be too performative either. You do it to give people the feeling that they are welcome and not to pat themselves on the back for being so spacious. ”

The manual prepared by the ESHCC Faculty Council may still be unknown to many students and staff, but similar actions by the Diversity and Inclusion Office (D&I) can help raise awareness of the subject throughout the university. Together with Erasmus Pride and Workplace Pride, D&I Office has developed a ‘knowledge platform for inclusive education’, which contains a manual on inclusive language use.

Host Gwen de Bruin plans to publish the website before the end of this calendar year. “It’s not just about being aware of this topic, it’s also about creating an environment where talking about the importance of discussing pronouns is part of the classroom conversation. We want a dialogue. ”

Ana Uribe agrees. “Sometimes discussing issues is the most important thing we can do as members of the faculty council and as members of this community. You may not be able to solve problems right away, but if you name them, they can become a topic of conversation. “made visible can no longer be made invisible. When you bring up an issue, people have to talk about it.”

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