Genderqueer. I'd never heard that term before, but there's lots I've yet to learn.
The newish word is for members who describe themselves in terms such as agender, bigender, third gender or gender-fluid are requesting — and sometimes finding — linguistic recognition. At least that's what they're talking about at Mills College in California.
Yahoo News reports:
The weekly meetings of Mouthing Off!, a group for students at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, always start the same way. Members take turns going around the room saying their names and the personal pronouns they want others to use when referring to them — she, he or something else.
It's an exercise that might seem superfluous given that Mills, a small and leafy liberal arts school historically referred to as the Vassar of the West, only admits women as undergraduates. Yet increasingly, the "shes" and "hers" that dominate the introductions are keeping third-person company with "they," ''ze" and other neutral alternatives meant to convey a more generous notion of gender.
I actually think this is kind of cool, but at the same time a bit confusing. But then again, try to explain long division or the mating rituals of the American Prairie chicken and you'd loose a lot of people along the way too.
So suffice to say that today, the progressive thinking when it comes to pronouns is to let the individual choose what is most certainly not a selected choice for them -- their sexuality. Everybody is what they are, and that's how they should be referred to.
Take Bradley/Chelsea Manning as an example. We knew him as he. He knew himself as she. Now technically and correctly, she is a she. Unless of course, Manning should prefer to be called by the newer term, "ze."
That's right. Ze. Along with that one, students at Mills are allowed to assign themselves their preferred gender pronouns, known as PGPs. Becoming more and more familiar are such ones as ''sie," ''e," ''ou" and "ve." These have become an accepted practice for professors, dorm advisers, club sponsors, workshop leaders and health care providers at several schools.
So, please do everyone a favor. If you have a preference, feel free to make it known up front. Don't let us call you, her or him if you prefer another term. But also, don't take offense if it takes us a bit of getting used to. I think there are a lot of people like myself who, by the way is a he or him, and I'll stick with that for the time being, who will need a bit of time for the adjustment.