‘Affirming of all’: Teachers union authored pronoun guide for using ‘ze’ and ‘zir’

Becky Pringle
National Education Association President Becky Pringle testifies during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool) Andrew Harnik/AP

‘Affirming of all’: Teachers union authored pronoun guide for using ‘ze’ and ‘zir’

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EXCLUSIVE — The nation’s largest teachers union offered its members a guide on how to use pronouns in an “affirming” manner properly and included a guide to using “ze” and “zir.”

The National Education Association’s “Pronoun Guide,” reviewed by the Washington Examiner, directs members on how to use various preferred pronouns and to grow accustomed to including one’s pronouns on nametags and while introducing oneself to colleagues.

The pronoun guide says it has been made available to members of the union and “staff to better understand and use pronouns in a respectful way for all NEA meetings and communications” but acknowledges that “some of this advice may not be appropriate for your school community, depending on current state law.”

NEA Pronoun guide

“In English, we have two sets of gendered pronouns: ‘she/her/hers’ and ‘he/him/his’ are pronouns that are attached to a particular gender,” the guide says. “We likely all grew up assuming we knew someone’s pronouns just by looking at them, or knowing their gender, but that isn’t the case. In an effort to be more affirming of all, it is important to get out of the habit of assuming pronouns.”

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The guide features a table graphic that separates different pronouns by their respective case to inform the reader how to use them in a sentence properly. The first three lines from the graphic provide a guide for he/she/they pronouns, but the final line is a guide for using “ze,” “zim,” “zir,” “zirs,” and “zirself,” which the guide says are pronounced similarly to “they” and “them” pronouns.

People who identify as transgender or nonbinary often seek to be addressed by pronouns that differ from their biological sex. The plural “they” is commonly used instead of the gendered “he” or “she.”

“Positive experiences of social gender affirmation are critical to the health and well-being of transgender and gender diverse people,” the guide says. “Social interactions where a person is addressed by their correct name and pronouns, consistent with their gender identity, are widely recognized as a basic — yet critical — aspect of gender affirmation. Addressing someone by the wrong name or misgendering them through the use of incorrect pronouns can feel disrespectful, harmful, and even unsafe to the person being misgendered.”

The guide continues: “Misgendering results in marginalization and communicates that a person’s identity is not being seen or respected. So, practice using the pronouns a transgender or nonbinary person requests … yes, even plural ‘they.’ It’s a show of respect.”

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The National Education Association did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement to the Washington Examiner, Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily said the guide proves “unions [are] doubling down on woke education and ignoring learning loss across the country.”

“One thing they can no longer ignore is the pro-parent movement sweeping the country,” she said. “The midterm elections proved that, and we’re just getting started.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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