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Two Americas

MTA Bans Gender-Specific Language



About a week ago, a directive was given to all employees of New York City Transit directing them to no longer address riders as “ladies and gentlemen.”

“Please don’t use any other greetings other than these,” the bulletin ordered, including such gender-neutral terms as “everyone,” “passengers,” and “rider.” Operators of newer trains with pre-recorded messages that address riders as “ladies and gentleman” have been instructed to override those messages until more appropriate messages can be put into place.

MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein said, “We’re fundamentally changing the way we talk with riders to give them better and clearer information,” in a recent statement. According to the New York Post, another MTA spokesperson said that gender issues were a “consideration for the move.”

Additionally, supervisors have been directed to monitor the speech of their subordinates for compliance.

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In May of 2016, The New York City Commission of Human Rights released an ordinance mandating the use of preferred pronouns in the context of employment, public accommodations, and housing, updating a local law passed in 2002 to counter gender discrimination. According to the ordinance, punishable gender discrimination can now be based on “one’s perceived or actual gender identity, which may or may not conform to one’s sex assigned at birth, or on the ways in which one expresses gender, such as through appearance or communication style.”

The ordinance provides examples of violations, including:

Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title.  For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” after she has made clear which pronouns and title she uses.

Refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun, or title because they do not conform to gender stereotypes.  For example, calling a woman “Mr.” because her appearance is aligned with traditional gender-based stereotypes of masculinity.

Newsweek observed that the MTA’s shift to gender neutrality is a stark contrast to a campaign against “manspreading,” which they ran just three years ago, suggesting that only men are capable of spreading their legs wide enough to encroach upon the personal space of other riders.

An MTA employee told Big League Politics to submit questions regarding the policy through the organization’s email system. The email was not returned at the time of publication.

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