‘Manholes’ Are Now ‘Maintenance Holes’ After California City Bans Gender-Specific Language From City Code

July 23, 2019 | No Comments » | Topics: Story

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gender neutral terms

The Berkeley Council voted unanimously to replace more than two dozen terms often used in the city’s municipal code with gender-neutral words.

Man-made will now be “human-made,” “artificial,” or “manufactured.” Manpower will be referred to as “human effort.”

Gendered pronouns like “he” and “she” will be replaced by “they” or “them.”

Sororities and fraternities will now be called “collegiate Greek system residences.”

There’s to be no more firemen or firewomen, policemen or policewomen, repairmen or salesmen, or sportsmen. Instead, the code will refer to firefighters, police officers, repairs, salespeople, and hunters.

“In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity,” council member Rigel Robinson wrote in a letter to the council in March.

Berkeley’s current municipal code contains mostly masculine pronouns, according to a city staff report.

"Having a male-centric municipal code is inaccurate and not reflective of our reality. Women and non-binary individuals are just as entitled to accurate representation, our laws are for everyone and our municipal code should reflect that.”

“It is both timely and necessary to make the environment of City Hall and the language of city legislation consistent with the principles of inclusion,” Robinson said.

In 2014, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that replaced “husband” or “wife” in state law with the gender-neutral term “spouse.” In 2017, California became the first state to provide a third gender option on state driver’s licenses, identification cards and birth certificates with the passage of Senate Bill 179.

Berkeley has also instituted some other changes. In February, the city began extending the option to all employees to receive a name badge with a preferred pronoun printed alongside their professional title.

gender neutral terms

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