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Meet the Elderly Woman Fired For Misunderstanding Pronouns

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A 90-year-old woman who had volunteered for 60 years with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society was fired from her role after expressing confusion about gender pronouns in her email signature.

Fran Itkoff lost her husband to MS 20 years ago and had since devoted herself to helping MS patients as head of her local support group.

When asked recently to include pronouns, Itkoff did not understand the request and sought clarification.

Itkoff said, “I was confused. I didn’t know what it was and what it meant.”

“I had seen it on a couple of letters that had come in after the person’s name. But I didn’t know what it meant,” she continued.

“So when I finally talked to her, I asked what it meant… And she said that meant they were all inclusive, which didn’t make sense to me,” recalled the elderly woman.

National MS Society Community Engagement Manager Kali Kulor wrote, “Unfortunately, based on the situation, we have made the difficult decision to have you step down from your volunteer position, effective immediately.”

Itkoff said, “I can’t believe… I had to read it a couple of times to see if I’m getting what she said.”

She was subsequently fired and accused of violating the group’s diversity policies.

Itkoff and her daughter maintain her sole purpose was helping MS patients.

Her firing sparked major backlash and the resignation of the Society’s president.

While the group defended their decision, they acknowledged Itkoff’s long service and said staff acted with the “best of intentions,” indicating the issue remains an ongoing conversation around policy.

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