Transsexualism – wanting to change physical sex because you feel you are ‘in the wrong body’ – has become an increasingly high-profile issue. People in the public eye have ‘changed their sex’, and the media normalises transsexualism. There has been a corresponding push for greater transsexual rights. This briefing introduces some of the issues at stake.
The use of ‘he’ or ‘she’ has been strongly discouraged in a new policy released by the University of Sussex Students’ Union (USSU).
The ‘gender inclusive’ language policy states that “the gender-neutral pronoun ‘they’ should be used as opposed to ‘he’ or ‘she’”, where an individual has not expressly stated their preferred pronoun.
The news comes shortly after it was revealed that students at the University of Oxford could be expelled if they fail to use gender-neutral pronouns.
Training for elected union officers on the USSU policy will be developed with a group that “seeks to free individuals and society from the oppressive confines of the gender binary”.
‘Gender Liberation Sussex’, which campaigns for “trans and non-binary rights” at the university, believes the “gender binary, and all the harmful stereotypes and heteronormativity associated with it is fundamentally unjust, and should be dismantled”.
The Sussex policy states that pronouns should be “stated at the beginning of every meeting, even if they have been stated at previous meetings”.
It adds that it “should be adopted by all Students’ Union staff and students participating in Union activities”, such as student media and elections.
Last month, The Sunday Times reported that at the University of Oxford, students and staff are now required to use the gender neutral pronouns ‘zie’ or ‘ey’ instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ when referring to transsexual people.
The behaviour guidelines, which have been in place for two years, state that “deliberately using the wrong name or pronoun in relation to a transgender person” may amount to harassment. This could result in disciplinary action, including dismissal for staff members, or an expulsion for students.
The guidelines were criticised by Dr Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto.
Dr Peterson said that “UK universities should resist this”, and that whole disciplines of study had already been irretrievably given over to such ideologies.
The issue of transsexualism – wanting to change physical sex because you feel you are ‘in the wrong body’ – has become increasingly high profile.
To aid understanding in this area, The Christian Institute has produced a briefing with key information and theology on the subject.