Gendered words ban: US city's code replaces ‘manpower’ with ‘human effort’


A gender neutral sign outside a toilet in the US (file photo)Image copyright
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Berkeley voted to removed words such as “man power” and “manhole” from its city codes

A city council in California has voted in favour of replacing gendered language with neutral terms in its municipal code.

Changes to Berkeley City Council’s code were passed unanimously in a vote on Tuesday.

The code will drop masculine words such as “manhole” and “manpower” in favour of non-gendered terms like “maintenance hole” and “human effort”.

The third-person plural pronoun “they” will be used instead of “he” and “she”.

In the US, a municipal code is a collection of ordinances, or laws, passed by a local governing body.

City councillor Rigel Robinson, who spearheaded the proposal, told the BBC that the masculine terms in the code were “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.”

Mr Robinson, 23, is the youngest council member in the city’s history.

He said the ordinance, which was adopted on its first reading, is important because “there’s power in language”.

“This is a small move, but it matters,” he said, noting the unanimous vote “was not controversial”.

Updating the city’s municipal code will cost $600 (£480), officials told the San Francisco Chronicle. More than two dozen words will be switched as part of the overhaul.

Berkeley is the latest governmental authority to alter official terminology in recognition of non-binary gender identities.

Last year, New York City Council voted to include a third gender category, “X,” on birth certificates, following the example of the states of Oregon, California, Washington and New Jersey.

German municipalities have taken similar steps to embrace gender equal terminology. Earlier this year the cities of Hanover and Hamburg made changes to their gender language usage in official texts.