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Gender-specific words banned in Californian city in inclusive move

Gender-specific words banned in Californian city in inclusive move

Californian Manhole Photo: George Pagan / UnSplash

A Californian city has blanket banned gender-specific words, changing all references to ‘he’ and ‘she’ with ‘they’ and ‘them.’

Berkeley City Council announced on Tuesday that around two dozen commonly used terms will be replaced with gender-neutral terms instead, according to NBC News.

This will range from manholes being renamed ‘maintenance holes’ and ‘man-made’ replaced with ‘artificial.’

What’s happened?

In a move costing the city around $600, according to Californian councillors, Berkley’s leaders voted unanimously to replace 40 words in the city code with inclusive terms instead.

That means ‘manpower’ will become ‘human effort’ or ‘workforce.’

‘She,’ ‘her,’ ‘he,’ and ‘him’ will be replaced by ‘they’ and ‘them,’ according to the measure approved Tuesday by the City Council.

Furthermore, in an ordinance read out on the day, ‘firemen’ is set to become ‘firefighters.’

Terms like fraternity or sorority will be changed to ‘collegiate Greek system residence.’

Also, other terms that will be changed include pregnant woman or women. It will be switched to pregnant employees as well as brothers and sisters being switched to sibling.

‘There is power in language’

Councilman Rigel Robinson, a 23-year-old recent graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, sponsored the ordinance.

As youngest member of the city council and co-author of the bill, he took to Twitter to voice he delight at the news.

He tweeted, in part: ‘There is power in language. It’s a small move, but it matters.’

In addition, he added: ‘As society and our cultures become more aware about issues of gender identity and gender expression, it’s important that our laws reflect that.

‘Women and non-binary people are just as deserving of accurate representation.’

Berklely city council will roll out the changes in the fall. In the meantime, city paperwork and signage in public libraries and council chambers will be updated.

Berkeley: A city of firsts

The San Francisco Bay Area city is known for its long history of progressive firsts.

Berkeley was among the first cities to adopt curbside recycling in the 1970s.

Moreover, it became the first in the US to tax sugary drinks and ban natural gas in newly-built homes.

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