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Washington Post uses 'zir' as pronoun in reference to fired transgender diversity officer at New College of Florida. Readers have a field day.

Image source: Washington Post video screenshot

The Washington Post in a Friday profile about a fired transgender diversity officer at New College of Florida used "zir" as a pronoun in reference to the fired diversity officer — Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez — and also noted that Rosario-Hernandez "uses ze/zir pronouns."

Readers in the comments section of the story didn't appear very receptive to the use of "ze" and "zir."

What's the background?

Rosario-Hernandez's firing, the paper said, was part of newly appointed conservative trustees' promises to "root out diversity programming" from the Sarasota school.

More from the Post:

The dismissal of Yoleidy Rosario-Hernandez, who uses ze/zir pronouns, comes on the heels of a vote by college trustees to eliminate New College’s Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence. The move, while not unexpected, signals a broader remaking of New College, which Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has identified as a staging ground for a larger “anti-woke” agenda that has become a central platform for his likely presidential bid. In January, DeSantis appointed six new members to the college’s board, includingconservative activist Christopher Rufo, a vocal critic of college diversity programs.

The Post begins the profile's third paragraph with the following sentence: "Rosario-Hernandez spoke with The Washington Post about zir recent termination and what it may say about the debate over college diversity efforts in Florida and across the nation."

That's right. "Zir recent termination."

The rest of the profile consists of an interview with Rosario-Hernandez — who says, "I do identify as BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of color] and trans ..." — as well as comments from the school and Rufo on the diversity officer's termination. The school told the Post, “The Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence has been abolished and the position is no longer necessary.”

Rufo commented in an email, according to the Post, that "he had done extensive reporting on DEI and had 'an in-depth understanding of how it promotes racial division, scapegoating, and discrimination.' Rosario-Hernandez’s 'false and inflammatory comments to The Washington Post,' he wrote, 'are further confirmation that President [Richard] Corcoran made the right decision' in terminating Rosario-Hernandez’s employment. Rufo added that he hoped this 'period of unemployment' would give Rosario-Hernandez 'the opportunity to develop real work skills, instead of fomenting hysterical racial grievance narratives.'"

How are readers reacting?

It appears a great number of comments on the Post's profile aren't particularly sympathetic to Rosario-Hernandez — but they commenters seemed particularly perturbed over the use of "ze" and "zir." Here are a few of them:

  • "Ze/zir pronouns are absurd, and the Post should not have played along with this gibberish," one commenter declared.
  • "Well, zir, guess it's time to burnish that resume," another commenter wrote.
  • "Ze apparently has taken a [Diversity Equity and Inclusion] position at Ringling College in Sarasota," another commenter quipped.
  • "I can't take pronoun people seriously," another commenter said. "Good bye. Find another fantasy."
  • "'Ze' should consider this an opportunity to reconsider 'zir' career choice and find a line of work on the productive side of the 'maker/taker' divide," another commenter noted — after which a different commenter added, "'Zir,' please. You have to get it right! Otherwise ze might sue."
  • "We all hope ze lands on zir feet," another commenter wrote.
  • "Ze had a whole WaPo article to explain what ze did, but it doesn't sound like ze did anything of value," another commenter observed.

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