partner and mothers

One student has mentioned his ‘partner’ without specifying or otherwise revealing a gender, at least as far as I have been able to understand his speaking. I have suspected male, if it’s any of my business. Yesterday he told an extended story about his partner and rather disconcertingly switched between he/him and she/her randomly throughout. I didn’t say anything in front of the other students, but had a quiet word with him later, and his partner is definitely ‘he’.

Someone I spoke to later suggested that maybe the partner is transitioning and the student is still coming to terms with it. I think a simpler explanation is that the student speaks a language which has one gender-neutral pronoun; students from that country tend to struggle with he and she. Another factor is that the student has a slight sh-ishness to all his hs, which might explain he/she, but doesn’t explain his/her.

Another student completed the given beginning ‘I really love …’ with ‘my mothers’. I asked how many she has, and she quickly confirmed that she has just one.

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