In tannoy announcements, transport workers in London have been asked to refrain from using the term ‘ladies and gentlemen’ when referring to customers. This city-wide move is an attempt to champion the cause of gender neutrality.
Head executives at Transport for London told their staff to desist from conventional gendered greeting and resort to terms like, ‘good morning everyone’.
The new pre-recorded announcements are also going to be modified to the new phrases.
The move comes after the LGBTQ+ activities campaigned for months appealing to Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, to alter the “outdated” language, which is generally used by bus and train drivers.
Mark Evers, the TfL boss of customer strategy, said that they want each and every individual to feel welcomed on their transport network. He said that they have reviewed the language that they use in announcements and elsewhere and will ensure that it is completely inclusive and reflective of London’s great diversity.
TfL’s move have been highly praised by campaign groups. The campaigners said that even though the terms ‘ladies and gentlemen’, ‘sir and madam’ are polite, it belongs to yesterday.
Bernard Reed OBE, who won an Attitude magazine award with his spouse this year for their long-standing contribution and efforts to improving the rights of trans people, expressed his appreciation of the news. He is a trustee of the Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) that aims to better the lives of trans as well as gender non-conforming individuals.
Mr. Reed said that GIRES has been actively supporting the efforts of TfL in increasing trans awareness amongst its workforce. He added that people have a really wide spectrum of gender identities, which could be as a woman or as a man (binary) or in between those identities (non-binary) or as non-gender. These different identities are increasingly becoming recognised as well as respected within the society.
The move has also been supported by a spokesman for charity Stonewall, which advocates the rights of gay, lesbian, bi and trans people. He said that language is very important to the gay, lesbian, bi and trans community and proper use of it can really go a long way in making them feel included. He further added that they welcome the gender neutral announcements that are all set to be introduced across TfL, because this is going to make sure that every individual, irrespective of their identity, is going to feel accounted for.
Aimee Challenor, 19, a transgender woman and an Equality campaigner, who persuaded Mayor Sadiq Khan to take action in December last year, called the move a “positive commitment from TfL”. However, there is still a lot of confusion amongst the staff as to the terms that they should use.
Ms Challenor said that she would want the TfL staff rulebook to be updated according to the new policy. She had previously recommended using the terms “all passengers for…” or “hello everyone”. She said that the people who are viewing the move as a small thing need to get a life because it is these small things that make lives so much better for people.
She added that that she loves travelling through London and it is a city that welcomes diversity. But, when she hears announcements, such as ‘ladies and gentlemen’, she feels that they are still living in the 19th century, even though it is, in fact, the 21st century.
TfL told the Standard that they plan to quickly review and update the written guidance that is handed over to the staff.
During his speech at Mayor’s Question Time last month, Mr. Sadiq Khan said that Transport for London serves a diverse, vibrant and multicultural city and provisions for creating an inclusive transport service is at the centre of what TfL does. However, he is aware that some of the customers may not be able to feel comfortable or relate to the way that announcements are made in certain stations. For this, he looks forward to TfL addressing such issues and concerns. He hopes that the announcements will be made in a more neutral way, rather than referring to any particular gender.
Mr. Khan said that Transport for London has committed to transition from gender-specific phrases to gender-neutral alternatives, such as ‘good morning or good afternoon everyone’. TfL’s staff has also been briefed about the same. However, well-meaning staff may still use the term ‘ladies and gentlemen’ from time to time and if this happens very frequently, TfL has decided to issues reminders to them.
The revised phrasing is going to be applied to all new pre-recorded announcements that are made throughout the network.
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