Western University transgender studies student awarded Rhodes Scholarship

Western University student Levi Hord, who researches the use of genderless pronouns in transgender communities, was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship, which includes two years of post-graduate study at Oxford University in the UK.

Past Rhodes Scholarship winners include former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister John Turner

Levi Hord is the 23rd Western University student in 110 years to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. (Chris dela Torre)

A fourth-year sexuality studies student at Western University has become the twenty-third UWO student in 110 years to be named a Rhodes scholar.

Levi Hord was one of two Ontario students to be awarded the scholarship, which includes two years of paid tuition for post-graduate studies at Oxford University in the UK.

"It kind of comes as a shock. Working in the humanities, I get told a lot that what I do isn't necessarily as important as things other people do in the STEM fields," Hord told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive, referring to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Listen to Hord's full interview with Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre below.

Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre speaks with Western University student, Levi Hord. Hord has been award a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, largely based their research on the use of genderless pronouns. 7:34

"It was surprising for me because I believe in what I do, but I don't always see that reflected."

'They' and 'them'

Hord, a fourth-year student who identifies as transgender, focuses their research on the use of gender-neutral language in transgender communities, such as the use of pronouns like 'they' and 'them', as opposed to 'he' or 'she'.

Hord employs genderless pronouns when referring to themself. But Hord doesn't always feel safe enough to do so, and will sometimes reluctantly revert to using 'she' and 'her' pronouns instead. 

"It's important for people to feel they are being recognized, and language is one of the main mechanisms through which we do that," Hord says.

"I want to be the person that writes the theory that changes how people look at gender, and I'm aware that's not going to happen overnight."

Hord will begin their studies at Oxford University in the fall, pursuing master's degrees in women's studies and in either political theory or in internet-related studies.