The Victorian State Government is backing a campaign for people to use gender-neutral pronouns including “they” and “them” instead of “he” and “she”.
A video, featuring members from the Department of Health and Community Services, shows participants explaining the restrictions of using masculine or feminine pronouns.
They also explain how using “they, them and their” can help people feel free of classic gender roles.
The video was filmed in a state government building and produced on behalf of the government, sparking sharp criticism from conservative groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby.
“I like it when people refer to me as ‘they’ because it feels true to myself,” RMIT post-doctoral research fellow Dr Son Vivienne told the Pride Network.
Dr Vivienne said everyone could benefit from using gender neutral pronouns.
“I think the space to imagine yourself without the constrictions of either masculine or feminine are huge, and for children in particular the potential to grow and be rich and complex people who are different selves on different days is also one of the things I like about ‘they’.”
Nicole Lord, principal adviser of wellbeing for the Department of Health, said she has been mistaken for a man and using gender neutral pronouns will help avoid awkward situations
She said the campaign would also help those who don’t identify with traditional gender pronouns to feel safe and comfortable and would see less mental health problems like depression.
The video claimed that in many situations people already use gender-neutral pronouns in everyday language without realising.
“If you have a friend who’s gone to a doctor you ask, ‘what did they say?’, you have a student in a classroom you might be talking about how they behave,” Dr Vivienne said.
The Australian Christian Lobby have slammed the video as a “shocking waste of departmental resources”, News Corp reported.
“It’s tragic that the Victorian public service can be used as a vehicle to encourage radical gender theory within the workforce, silencing those who believe in male and female gender,” Victorian Director Dan Flynn said.
However, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services claimed the video did not receive government or departmental funding.
The ‘They Day’ event, where staff wore stickers with their preferred pronoun in a bid to encourage others to use, was also not compulsory.
Advocate | Collaborate | Engage
The Family & Domestic Violence Advocacy Network (FADVAN) is a South Australian multi-sector approach established in 2014 by Brad Chilcott, Welcome to Australia Founder.
To amplify the voices of family and domestic violence survivors and those who serve them by advocating, collaborating and engaging.
To unite professionals and like-minded advocates across organisations, businesses, community groups, service providers, ambassadors, survivors, religious bodies and the broader society who have an interest in preventing intimate partner and family violence across all communities.
Advocate: Support services providers in their campaign to keep family and domestic violence on the political and social agendas by influencing decision making and leveraging the strength of collective voice from all parts of society;
Collaborate: Provide an inclusive forum which connects people from diverse backgrounds to ensure priorities and initiatives align with the needs of ‘frontline services’ and promote gender equality;
Engage: Network with other stakeholders to create innovative community engagement strategies and events which raise awareness of intimate partner and family violence within all communities and the supports available to assist.