When Jaxx first arrived at Wittmore University, they felt like they had finally found an accepting social environment. “I knew that I would have faced so much discrimination if I had come out as gender-fluid in high school. Well, I thought I was gender-fuid, I actually no longer identify with either gender.”
It was a simple request, they thought. Just ask their teachers and fellow students to refer to them by their preferred pronouns – they, their, them or xe, xyr, xyrs. “It’s not like I was asking the cis gendered students to bow down to me – I just wanted them to give me a tiny shred of human dignity for once in their lives.”
Jaxx sent an e-mail to each of xyrs professors to inform them about xyrs preferred pronouns. The following morning, xe was horrified to see a short response from xyrs English professor, Dr. Edward Wheeler.
Thank you for the e-mail, Jaxx. I will be happy to only speak about you in the first or second person. I do not believe in altering pronouns.
In that single moment, xyrs world came crashing down. “I thought he seemed so nice, so I couldn’t believe it. I don’t go running around declaring his gender to the world – why does he think he can do it to me?”
Minutes later, Jaxx contacted Wittmore administrators. Certainly, xe thought, this would be considered hate speech, or at the very least grounds for termination. Xe was wrong.
“Apparently us non-binaries don’t matter whatsoever. I guess it’s perfectly legal for hate mongers to assume all of our genders for us.”
Campus wide protests followed. Students scratched peace signs into Dr. Wheeler’s car and created a designated “shout space” outside of his office. But the professor refused to resign.
Faced with few options, Jaxx released a Tumblr post to declare xyrs intention to go on a hunger strike until Dr. Wheeler either resigns, is fired or openly uses xyrs pronouns in class.
“I’m standing up for us non-binaries, gender-queers and agenders. I want him to know what his hate does to people.”
Support for the hunger strike has been widespread across campus. Gender Studies professor Alice Walker praised Jaxx for promoting tolerance towards non-binaries of color. “Xe knows that non-binaries of color face even more systemic discrimination than white non-binaries, and I hope xyrs hunger strike draws attention to their struggle.”