My faculty guide led me into a comfortable room in the Multicultural/LGBT Student Center, where about 12 students were gathered around open boxes of pizza and bottles of soda on a coffee table. A few looked up and smiled at me, and my faculty escort called one of them over and introduced her.Now it's the interviewee's turn to introduce herself. Will she follow the group's format and give a go-by pronoun? There are three good reasons to do so: 1. It will help her get the job she wants, 2. It's friendly and polite to adopt the convention of a group you join (if each member had stated his (!) favorite color at the end of the introduction, it would be casual and nice to state yours), 3. I had a third reason, but if it was so good, why have I forgotten it? (Maybe you can think of one.)
"Leslie, this is Dr. Haladay from the University of California. I'll leave her to speak with all of you until around 7:30, then I'll come and take her over to the job talk."
"OK," said Leslie, a pale young woman with short black hair and Buddy Holly glasses. "Nice to meet you, Dr. Haladay. Should we start off by introducing ourselves?"
Leslie asked the students to assemble in a circle and told them what was happening. "OK, we're starting with introductions, everybody, so why don't we all say our name, our year in school, our major, and our pronoun. I'll start."
I suddenly felt like I was back in the stairwell trying to decode one of the fliers. Pronoun? I didn't have time to dwell on it.
"My name is Leslie, I'm a fourth year in comparative ethnic, gender, and global studies, and I go by 'he.'" I stared at Leslie a little too long as I tried to grasp "his" words and readjust my obviously gender-biased and inaccurate first impression.
Then I smiled, probably too much.
The next person in the circle was a young Latina with thick, long hair and a red hair band. "My name is Nana, I'm queer, and I go by 'she,'" said Nana. "I'm in sociology, and I'm about to graduate. Yay!"
Jonny wore a black leather vest and motorcycle boots, and had multiple facial piercings, sparkling blue eye shadow, and a goatee -- and also claimed the pronoun "she."
Side note: The sign on the door of the unisex bathroom was "a block of prose in rather small writing explaining the gendered politics of the public toilet." (For Althouse opinion on transgendered bathrooms, start here.)