Watch the video above: Transgender individuals may force change in English language
SASKATOON – It is a change in the Vancouver public school system that may find its way to Saskatoon – identifying transgender individuals in a non-gender specific way.
With long hair blowing in the wind and clothed in a beautiful white blouse, Maaya Hitomi is content while chatting with Global News on Friday afternoon. The 26-year-old sexual wellness educator prefers customers, family and friends use the pronoun ‘they’ when making reference to Hitomi.
“I don’t necessarily fit into the female world and I don’t really fit in the male world either so where do I go,” said Hitomi.
‘They’ identifies as non-binary. Hitomi admits the wording can get confusing as ‘they’ generally refers to more than one person.
The Vancouver board of education recently approved a policy change allowing students who’s gender expression does not align with their biological gender to be referred to as xe, xem and/or xyr as an alternative to “he or she”, “him or her”, and “his or hers”.
“That could make all the difference,” Hitomi said, when thinking about how this would have affected their experience while attending high school. It is a time in life when Hitomi was suicidal.
“The boys look at me as girly and the girls look at me as creepy,” said Hitomi.
‘They’ says the added pronouns are something all schools should consider but transgender discussions don’t go far with catholic school boards.
“I don’t believe God makes mistakes,” said Doug Lawson, the superintendent with Vancouver’s catholic independent schools.
“You cannot just change your sex,” he reiterates.
Greater Saskatoon Catholic schools will not discuss the idea of adding pronouns saying in a written statement “since it’s not something that is under consideration by our division at this time, we don’t have any opinion to offer on it.”
The Saskatoon public school board hasn’t made any policy changes but does use separate pronoun language for those who request it.
Other changes have also been implemented.
“In several schools we have gender neutral washrooms,” said Pamela Goulden-McLeod, the board’s safe and caring schools consultant.
That’s major, according to Hitomi who says gym class as a student in high school was a nightmare.
According to Canada’s trans pride guide, terminology can be difficult for those who are unfamiliar with what’s considered right or wrong.
The gender equality society of Saskatchewan recommends ‘transgender people’ over ‘transgenders’ and ‘transition’ rather than ‘sex change, pre or post operative, castrated or sterilized’ which are all considered problematic and can be offensive.
According to Hitomi, the best thing to do is ask questions.
The LGBTQ community also suggests teachers make small changes such as saying ‘students’ or ‘class’ rather than ‘boys and girls’.