The University of Vermont has decided to recognize a third gender for students, who can choose a pronoun and a new first name, even if it is not their legal name.
According to The New York Times, a transgender student can use “they," even though the pronoun is grammatically plural, instead of “he” or “she.”
Other pronouns that transgender students can use include “ze” and "xe," which validate a gender outside of male or female.
These pronouns are reportedly popular in the transgender community.
"Some people try to reduce this whole topic to kids trying to be cool or they're just acting out or whatever, just trying to be different or new," Robyn Ochs, a LGBTQ activist, told The New York Times. "But there have always been people who have felt profoundly uncomfortable in their assigned gender roles. Anything we can do to make them safer, or make them feel recognized, heard, seen, understood, we should do. To validate their identity and experience could, in fact, save their life."
"It's actually a public safety issue," University Registrar Keith Williams told WCAX (video below). "Transgender students, trans folks in general, have the highest level of violence within the LGBT community. So, a situation which might just seem awkward to somebody who isn't trans, where the faculty member gets the name wrong or even worse knows the legal name, but uses the name that the student is going by, if that implies the student is trans, it could actually endanger the student."