Term Essay Prompts: Gender Neutral Language

Please choose one of the following to write an essay of 1000 words (900-1100 to be exact, excluding the essay prompt and reference list). Use what you have learned from the course to support your point of view. Where appropriate, you may also draw upon your personal experience, or examples from what you have read or viewed outside the course, to illustrate your points.

Inclusion of new vocabulary for gender easily arouses heated discussion. See the examples below; how do you view these approaches to gendered or ungendered language labels? Would you embrace these changes? Why or why not:

The 2015 Oxford English Dictionary incorporated the word “cisgender” (or cis) to describe a person whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth. It provides an opposite term to “transgender”. Some regard this development as a linguistic reflection of the shift in social norms and as enriching human identities; but others (e.g., USC Professor Chris Freeman) contend these antithetical terms recreate and reinforce the gender binary. Other contentious linguistic inventions include substituting “Ms.” for “Miss/Mr.” and proposals for a genderless third-person English pronoun, such as “thon”.

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