‘Genderqueer’ rising: Colleges welcome kids who identify as neither male nor female

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Mel Goodwin, youth program director at the gay and lesbian community center in Las Vegas, said getting the hang of alternative pronouns can be tricky in conversation. Goodwin, 28, claimed they as a preferred pronoun four years ago and it took time “to unlearn what I had been taught about gender.”

Yet when people object to they as being grammatically incorrect, Goodwin counters that modern English is to blame and that scholars, writers and linguists have spent more than a century trying to come up with gender-neutral pronouns that stick. In public presentations, Goodwin also refers to a map that shows historic and contemporary cultures around the world that have recognized more than two genders.

“This is not about young people in the U.S. over the last 20 years kind of coming out of the woodwork and making up labels that aren’t real,” Goodwin said. “This is a real variation among humans, period.”

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