'I'm sure you understand that I expect to be treated with at least basic levels of respect and human decency in the classroom,' they wrote.
A nonbinary student's no-nonsense response to their professor's refusal to use their correct pronouns is now going viral on TikTok. Shade—who is nonbinary and identifies with the pronouns they/them—reportedly emailed a professor at the College of Southern Idaho prior to the beginning of the spring semester to inform her of their correct name and correct pronouns. However, while the professor agreed to refer to their student as Shade instead of the legal name that's on college forms, she is said to have refused to use they/them pronouns because of her "convictions."
Despite being taken aback by the professor's response, Shade shot back with an informative email explaining how what they were asking for is not a favor, but rather a baseline form of respect. "I'm sorry, I think there was a misunderstanding here," they wrote in an email they later read on the TikTok video that went viral. "You seem to think I'm making some kind of request? I was just informing you of my correct name and pronouns so you know how to refer to me. Intentionally misgendering a student is actively creating a hostile environment and discriminating on the basis of gender identity. That goes against the school's nondiscrimination statement. I know you wouldn't want to do that."
I responded to my teachers email refusing to use my pronouns. pic.twitter.com/kFRyy25vys— Unholy Shade says FUCK FASCISM (@Unholy_Shade) January 4, 2021
"I'm sure you understand that I expect to be treated with at least basic levels of respect and human decency in the classroom. I look forward to meeting you in class next week and working with you through the semester. Regards, Shade (they/them)," they concluded the email. The video of Shade reading out the email has been viewed over 1.8 million times since it was posted earlier this month. Speaking to the NBC-affiliated KPVI-DT about the attention they've been getting, Shade said: "It's been crazy. My phone has calmed down a bit now, but the first few days, it was nonstop notifications."
Issue is that the school allows this. I could work things out with this teacher (I'll try) but that doesn't stop it happening with other people. Maybe someone who can't take it. I made a new years resolution to fight harder for what I believe and was immediately given the chance.— Unholy Shade says FUCK FASCISM (@Unholy_Shade) January 3, 2021
"At one point, somebody commented saying that they had watched a bunch of my videos and that they had been helpful because they're about to adopt a trans daughter," Shade added. "I almost cried. That is so sweet." However, Shade's professor seems adamant about sticking to her "convictions." Since the semester began on January 11, the professor has used Shade's name but not any pronouns. After it became evident that they wouldn't get anywhere with the professor, Shade reached out to Dean of Students Jason Ostrowski, who they said has been helpful. Ostrowski reportedly informed them that the college recently formed a diversity and inclusion committee that'll work on these kinds of issues.
"We talked about trainings and culture shifts needed at CSI," Shade revealed. A spokesperson for the college acknowledged the incident but said CSI couldn't comment on the specific situations involving personnel. The college later issued a statement clarifying what options students have in these sorts of situations. "All students and employees at the College of Southern Idaho are able to report concerns at any time through an online link located on the college's main website," the statement reads. "The link leads to a form which can be filled out after which the concern is routed to the appropriate point of contact on campus. Student concerns are typically routed to the Dean of Students who works to address the concern. In cases where concerns are expressed about a faculty member, other instructional personnel are often involved, as is the Director of Human Resources when appropriate."
equality and inclusion committee to help with training and cultural shifts. He's invited me to schedule a meeting to discuss this further. This is excellent news!!— Unholy Shade says FUCK FASCISM (@Unholy_Shade) January 8, 2021
Meanwhile, Shade revealed that unlike the unnamed professor who refused to refer to them by their correct pronouns, most professors and faculty members at CSI have been supportive and opened-minded. The teacher from Shade's other class this semester accepted the name and pronouns right away, they said. "I'm less concerned with what happens between this individual teacher and myself and more concerned with what happens school-wide," Shade said. "Because personally, I have support. I'm not somebody who is going to be super broken up about it, but I know that's not the case for a lot of trans students. In fact, for a lot of trans students, it might be that school is the only place where they could possible get gendered correctly."