Illustration by Zharmakhan Nurkhanuly.

The Pronouns Article One Year On: We’re Sorry

One year on from publishing the infamous gender pronouns article, The Gazelle’s Opinion Desk reflects on the mistakes that were made, the harm that was caused and how The Gazelle can do better.

Apr 4, 2021

Just over 13 months ago, The Gazelle made the consequential decision of publishing the article Pronouns: How Conservative Voices are Drowning in the Liberal Wave. This piece claimed that the decision to allow students to choose their preferred pronouns was an offense to cultural and religious values unique to our context and failed to take into account conservative voices that opposed such a move.
As a response noted at the time, the piece was harmful because at best, it argued that the right of an individual to express their gender identity should be up for discussion, and at worst, it proposed the erasure of such identities. The response rightly generated much hurt among the NYU Abu Dhabi community, prompting the Management at the time to defend its decision to publish by claiming to uphold political neutrality and reaffirming its commitment to hearing all voices.
While none of us who author this article served on The Gazelle’s Management at the time, we would nevertheless like to revisit this article, the hurt it caused and the mistakes The Gazelle made in its decision to publish this piece. Much of our work at the Opinion Desk revolves around holding the NYUAD administration and its student body accountable for what we believe to be day to day missteps and mistakes, as well as structural injustices. We should, therefore, not shirk from holding our publication accountable, even if we do so a year too late.
As The Gazelle’s management argued at the time, we have a responsibility to create space for a diversity of opinions and ideas. But we have a greater responsibility to protect marginalized communities, especially in a context that lacks institutionalized protections against this specific type of discrimination. In choosing to publish this article, The Gazelle made the mistake of attempting to prioritize the first responsibility over the second. In its effort to claim the mantle of intellectual diversity and tolerance, The Gazelle perpetuated transphobia, further discriminating against some of the NYUAD community’s most vulnerable members. As a result, we made some of the most vulnerable members of our community feel invalidated, unsafe and unwelcome.
As the Opinion Desk, we take issue with the idea that all opinions should be given space on our platform, or public platforms in general. By virtue of its position as the only student publication on campus, The Gazelle is an arbitrator of discourse. We should therefore be doubly cautious of what voices we choose to center, and why. As some members of this publication have made abundantly clear, positionality and potential for harm are important considerations when deciding which voices to amplify. It pains us, therefore, to reflect on how last year’s Management threw caution to the wind, failed to adequately consider the harm this piece could cause and resorted to harmful interpretations of free speech and diversity of opinion in order to defend its editorial decision to publish.
A year too late, we would still like to take this opportunity to apologize for the pain caused. As the Opinion Desk, we have a responsibility to stand with and fight alongside those demanding greater recognition and an end to discrimination. In publishing this piece, The Gazelle did not just let down these communities but actively hurt them. For this, we are truly sorry.
Some of us will be leaving The Gazelle at the end of this year. Others will go on to take new roles. Through this piece, we reaffirm our commitment to stand with queer and other marginalized communities through the work we publish. Perhaps more importantly, we promise to make questions of positionality and harm central to our decision to publish or not publish a particular piece. We understand that in a small but incredibly diverse community, a failure to center these questions in our publication decisions may cause incredible damage to efforts to make NYUAD a more tolerant and inclusive community.
We would like to remind the queer community at NYUAD that we stand with them. We are sorry it took us this long to reaffirm this stance.
This is a collective article from The Opinion Desk. Email them at
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