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City to ban gendered language like "manhole," "manpower" and "firemen"

Gender: The Space Between
CBS Reports presents Gender - The Space Between 30:51

The city of Berkeley, California, is banning some commonly used words in favor of more gender-neutral alternatives. "Manhole" and other gender-specific language will be eliminated from the municipal code.

An ordinance on gender neutral language, introduced by council member Rigel Robinson in March, was passed on Tuesday night, CBS San Francisco reports.

"In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gendernonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity," Robinson's ordinance reads. "Therefore, 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."

The ordinance includes a list of gendered terms in existing city code and the new gender-neutral terms that can be used to replace them.

"Bondsman" will now be "bonds-person," "firemen" and "firewomen" will now both be referred to as "firefighters," and "manpower" will be replaced with "human effort" or "workforce." Sororities and fraternities will now go by "Collegiate Greek system residence" and a pregnant woman will be referred to as a "pregnant employee."

The extensive list also includes instances where he, her, she and him are used in city code and the new pronouns that should be used. For example, if an attorney is mentioned, they will always be referred to as "the attorney" — not a gender pronoun such as him or her.

Supporters of the new policy say it is a small move in recognizing non-binary gender inclusivity. A second reading of the ordinance has been scheduled for next Tuesday, according to CBS San Francisco.

In 2018, the state of California stopped defining gender as just male or female and recognized non-binary as a third gender option on official documents. Then-Governor Jerry Brown signed SB179, also known as the Gender Recognition Act, which allows people to identify as non-binary on driver's licenses and birth certificates, and eases requirements for transgender people to change their gender on identification documents.

Maine and Washington D.C. have also made moves to recognize gender-neutral individuals on drivers licenses. 

The Berkeley ordinance includes a lengthy list of "gendered terms" commonly found in the city code, and the "non-gendered" terms that should now be used instead.

The Berkeley ordinance includes a list of gendered terms in existing city code and the new gender-neutral terms that can be used to replace them. The City of Berkeley
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