West Virginia University: Calling Someone The ‘Wrong’ Prounoun Is A Title IX Violation

Credit: Aspen Photo /

Font Size:

Referring to someone by the “wrong” gender pronoun is a violation of federal anti-discrimination law, according to West Virginia University’s Title IX office.

Title IX, which was signed into law by Richard Nixon in 1972, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Among other things, Title IX forced college athletics programs to treat men’s and women’s programs the same, leading to a vast expansion in female NCAA athletics.

Today, Title IX is used to coerce individuals into affirming transgender persons’ self-defined gender identity. Although Title IX only prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, some on the left have argued that the term “sex” should be understood to include “gender identity” and “gender expression.”

WVU’s Title IX office informs students that federal law — as interpreted by WVU — guarantees students “the right to be called by the name and pronouns consistent with your gender identity.”

More generally, WVU says, all students “have the right to be treated according to the gender you identify with.”

The school offers a handy guide on “Proper prounoun usage” that explains how to swap out pronouns such as he, him and his for gender neutral prounouns such as “ve,” “ver” and “vis.”

The guide offers a plethora of pronoun choices for WVU students and employees to use, including the “Spivak” pronoun “Ey.” The sentence “His eyes gleam,” the guide explains, becomes “eir eyes gleam” when using Spivak pronouns.

“Some people may not want a lot of public attention to their pronouns, while others will appreciate you standing up for them. If someone uses the wrong pronoun for a person who isn’t present, try a brief correction,” the guide advises.

“WVU’s Office of Equity Assurance investigates any Title IX related incidents reported to the University,” the university website promises. James Goins, the university’s Title IX coordinator, has not yet returned an email seeking comment.

In May, the Obama administration released a “Dear Colleague” letter informing public schools at the K-12 level that “Under Title IX, a school must treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their education records or identification documents indicate a different sex.”

The letter warns, ” The Departments have resolved Title IX investigations with agreements committing that school staff and contractors will use pronouns and names consistent with a transgender student’s gender identity.”

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson