A pronoun guide intended to educate Bristol University staff on gender inclusion has divided opinion due to references to ‘catgender’ and ‘emojiself’.
The university published this guide with links to sources stating that some people may identify as felines and others could use ‘emojiself pronouns’, which refers to the use of emojis to express a pronoun, which can be gender neutral.
According to the LGBTA Wiki the guide linked out to, "someone who is catgender may use nya/nyan pronouns". Nya/nyan means “meow” in Japanese. Catgender is also described as someone who "strongly identifies" with cats or other felines or “experiences delusions relating to being a cat or other feline".
Reactions to this guide have ranged from confused to outraged, with some referring to it as “beyond satire” and “embarrassing”.
Trans campaigner Debbie Hayton has sarcastically tweeted that she’ll be using “eye roll” and “angry” emojis for her ‘emojiself’ pronouns. She also told The Telegraph: "It brings the whole concept of being a transsexual and transitioning in society into disrepute, we didn’t ask for this," she said. "Pronouns are there to describe what we see and what we know."
The links and mentions of ‘catgender and ‘emojiself’ have since been removed from the guide.
Neopronouns, such as “ze/zir/zirs” are also referred to in the guide, which are singular third person prounouns that would be used instead of “they” or “them”, and are not currently recognised in the language they’re used in.
The guide also encourages staff to not be defensive when making a mistake with someone’s pronouns, explains why getting it right is important and makes suggestions on how to be more inclusive.
The university has responded to the controversy surrounding the guide with the following statement:
“The University of Bristol is committed to gender inclusion. The correct use of pronouns is important to some members of our University community. The information on our website is designed to help people understand the different variations and nuances that this covers.
"There is no expectation that staff must commit every possible pronoun to memory,” the statement continues. “Using pronouns on email signatures or as part of meeting introductions is not a mandatory requirement.”
The Independent has reached out to the University of Bristol for further comment.