Jenna Perlman, Staff Writer
The Graduate Center of the City University of New York has taken the first steps to gender identity acceptance. As of the Spring 2015 semester, the school will no longer use the titles of “Mr.,” “Mrs.” and “Ms.” in correspondence to students and in written informational letters and emails to prospective students and other third party organizations, according to an internal memo sent out on Jan. 16. This is all about the school’s initiative to create a gender-inclusive learning environment and a place for prospective students to feel comfortable in.
CUNY recognizes the struggle with gender identity that many individuals face and understands that some students might want to go by different pronouns and names than they were given at birth. In addition to leaving the pronouns on informational letters ambiguous, the school is also allowing students to go by a name other than their legal one. All they have to do is fill out a form.
Questioning sexual identity and sexual ambiguity has been all over the news recently. Angelia Jolie and Brad Pitt’s child, John (previously known as Shiloh), has made the news recently for wearing a suit to the premiere of Jolie’s latest movie. His parents have openly expressed their support of their child, and the media coverage of this has opened the door for conversation about transgender children and gender ambiguity at all ages.
But how will John control his teachers calling him “Shiloh” in school? He is stuck with a legal name he does not identify with and a gender he doesn’t want. This is why the action that CUNY has taken is so monumental and influential. It’s opening the doors to students and giving them hope that children who find themselves in the wrong bodies will be respected. Even for students who are gender neutral — meaning they don’t identify with either gender — this step allows for comfort in a learning environment, making for a successful one.
Brava to you CUNY — this is absolutely incredible. Allowing students the comfort of not being assigned a pronoun will definitely attract more students to your school and allow for a more respectful and productive learning environment.
I hope more schools follow CUNY’s influential path, and that we as a society continue to take down the perception of gender. Because, honestly, don’t we all deserve to be comfortable and respected?