California fighting to in the name gender-neutral words isn’t new. Not only did the city adapt to gender-inclusive restrooms, but now they are taking it a step further and removing gender-specific words in its municipal code. According to the Berkeley City Council, it costed the city $600 to make the changes. The council had unanimously passed the new ordinance to replace more than two dozen commonly uses terms to provide an accurate representation.
They switched words like “he” and “she” to “them” and “they” in the city code. “Manholes” will be changed to “maintenance holes” and references to manmade will be changed to “artificial.” Council member Rigel Robinson, who was a 23-year-old recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, at the time, sponsored the ordinance, believing there is”power in language.”
Is the Word “Manhole” Personally Attacking?
Berkeley City Manager Dee William- Ridley wrote in a memorandum to the council, noting, “In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender-nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity.” Terms such as sorority and fraternity were changed to “collegiate Greek system residence.” Other terms include pregnant woman or women, which will be switched to pregnant employees and brother and sister will be switched to sibling.
According to Code Publishing Company, the Berkeley Municipal Code contains mostly masculine pronouns and no gender-neutral language. The official city council report states, “The League of California Cities saw the need to develop a best practices guide for city officials and city staff related to new state laws, policies, and practices that promote inclusive workplaces.”
Gendered Term “Manhole” Replaced
Safe to say the city of Berkley has quite a lengthy history of leading on socially and politically liberal issues. Berkley council had also voted in favor of becoming the first city in California to ban natural gas in new building construction. The measure went into effect on January 1, 2020.
So do you agree with these new terms? Should all states have gender-neutral words?
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on July 19, 2019.