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Elderly Woman Fired From Volunteer Position At Multiple Sclerosis Charity After Struggling To Understand “Pronouns”

Natasha Biase

A 90-year-old woman in California was removed from her volunteer position at the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society for failing to understand what pronouns were. Fran Itkoff had been a volunteer for the MS Society for 60 years before being terminated because “she did not understand pronouns.”

Speaking to Libs of TikTok founder Chaya Raichik, Itkoff explained that she had initially gotten involved in MS advocacy after her late husband was diagnosed with the progressive disease.

After her husband passed away 20 years ago, Itkoff continued her volunteer work with the MS Society, dedicating six decades of her life to MS advocacy and winning multiple awards. But despite her commitment to the nonprofit, she was asked to step down following a discussion regarding adding pronouns to her email signature.

“I was confused. I didn’t know what it was and what it meant,” explained Itkoff. “I had seen it on a couple of letters that had come in after the person’s name had the pronouns, but I didn’t know what that meant.”

Continuing, Itkoff explained that she sought clarity from the MS Society’s Community Engagement Manager, Kali Kumor, about what pronouns meant. After Kumor explained it means the organization is “all-inclusive” and using pronouns is required to “be inclusive,” Itkoff responded: “The MS society as a whole and the Long Beach group has just always been inclusive.”

The following Friday at the end of the day Itkoff received an email from Kumor explaining that while the MS Society appreciates her “dedication and contribution as a Self-Help group leader” it had made the decision to immediately terminate her volunteer position.

“As we discussed earlier during our phone conversation,” reads the email, “after a thorough review of our guidelines and standards, it has come to our attention that there has been a failure to abide by our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion guidelines during your time as a volunteer. Unfortunately, based on the situation, we have made the difficult decision to have you step down from your volunteer position effective immediately.”

Concluding, the email adds that “although the Lakewood/Long Beach Self-Help Group will no longer be formally affiliated with” the MS Society, Itkoff is more than welcome to continue meeting with her group apart from the nonprofit.

After receiving the email, Itkoff explained she “was completely shocked” and had to read the email several times to ensure she understood its implications.

“To me, it’s ironic, because they are saying they are inclusive, but they are excluding a 90-year-old disabled woman who has volunteered for 60 years,” added Itkoff’s daughter. “And literally, the sole purpose was to help the MS patients and find a cure. That’s literally all she does.”

News of Itkoff’s shocking termination sparked outrage on X, formerly Twitter, with many calling on the MS Society to issue a formal apology to her for her mistreatment.

“Not another dollar to the @mssociety until they reinstate Fran Itkoff and [publicly] apologize for their abusive treatment of this 90-year-old dedicated volunteer,” wrote one user by the handle @ex0rientelux.

Others, tagging the MS Society, took to X to demand they terminate Kumor for lacking common sense and decency for mistreating such a loyal volunteer.

“MS Society, I have shared this story far & wide. You must fire Kali Kumor, the she, her, they, who mistreated & fired Mrs Fran Itkoff. She lacks common sense & decency. Mrs Itkoff gave 60 yrs of her life as a volunteer to the MS Society & is the widow of a man who had MS as well.”

Concluding her interview with Raichik, Itkoff expressed how disappointed she is but vows to continue to keep the group going.

“This can happen, it shouldn’t happen, but it can, and I hope there is a way to alleviate it [so that] it wouldn’t happen to someone else. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get this straightened out,” she said, adding: “I will continue doing what I’m doing.”

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Natasha Biase

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