Beyond The Binary: Steps Toward Gender Neutrality
Written by: Sophie Taylor
Sadiq Khan’s decision to change London underground announcements from ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ to gender neutral greetings such as “good afternoon everyone” might have seemed like an obvious, positive step in the right direction.
But unfortunately the news was met with some resistance and negativity. Some saw it as an attack against gender, deeming it ‘pathetic’, ‘unnecessary’ and even ‘demeaning’.
Presumably that affectionate term, ‘Snowflake’ was also bandied around for good measure.
One particularly angry Twitterererer used precisely 140 characters to fully express their outrage: “It’s pathetic. If #LGBT want to be treated equally then stop behaving like everything makes them feel different. Is it really THAT offensive”
Or what about this furious keyboard tapper’s reaction: “I feel that the use of everyone is both offensive&demeaning to who I am so I would say i now feel i am being discriminated against as a man”
Tee hee. But also, oh dear. Perhaps it’s time for a very quick and light hearted history lesson to lighten the mood here. To say you’re offended and demeaned by a move towards gender neutrality is teetering along the same lines as the All Lives Matter campaign, or that Heterosexual Pride Day that attempted to kick off before getting shut down with uber sass online.
Why was it shut down? Because every day is Hetero Day and has been for the last, say, all of time. Because people aren’t locked up, beaten or disowned for being hetero.
Pride is celebrating the right to life without prosecution. As an anonymous quote suggested: ‘instead of wondering why there isn’t a straight pride movement, be thankful you don’t need one’.
Equality isn’t about miraculously finding ourselves on the same level when there is a history of prejudice and prosecution to work on first. According to recent research, there has been a 170% rise in transphobic hate crimes reported since 2012.
Equality is a work in progress when a culture of negative stereotyping precedes it and there’s a lot of work left to do.
Eliminating gender specific announcements isn’t about disregarding people who only acknowledge male and female constructs. It’s about acknowledging everyone else outside of that binary as well.
So why is it so important that the Mayor has made the decision to use non gender specific language on London transport? Because it’s inclusive of everyone, not just two strands of society. Because it’s a very necessary step. Forward.
Read more from our Beyond The Binary series.
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