Berkeley bans gender-specific words from city code
BERKELEY, Calif. (KTVU) - Berkeley City Council has unanimously voted to eliminate gender-specific words from its municipal code.
The vote was on Tuesday and the idea was introduced by 23-year-old city council member Rigel Robinson.
"Language has power. The words we use are important," Robinson said. "It's not only timely, but necessary to make sure that our laws really speak for everyone."
Some of the changes include the word, "manhole" that will now be "maintenance hole."
A bondsman will become a "bondsperson." And fireman officially becomes firefighter.
The list goes on with other examples, including craftsmen, which becomes artisans.
Heirs is changed to beneficiaries. Manpower will now be "human effort" and pregnant woman is now pregnant employee.%INLINE%
We found a mix of reactions to these changes.
Supporters say the language tweaks make Berkeley more inclusive.
"If it makes the city happy I guess they can go ahead. They can change it to maintenance hole. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt anybody," said Erin Davis of Berkley.
"It sounds like they want to include everybody, including trans, the LGBTQ community that gets left out.
But not everyone was on the same page.
"No. Uh...I think it would remain the same. Why change it?" said Athena Addison of Berkeley.
"They come up with these cockamamie things all the time," said one unidentified older resident.
And at one Berkeley fraternity, Andrew Haits, a UC student had this reaction: "Come on. Enough is enough," he snickered. "I think they've gone too far. The reason why they're gender separated is because they are gender separated. Fraternities are male and sororities are female."
He's referring to fraternities and sororities, which will now be referred to as "collegiate Greek system residencies."
Berkeley's municipal code uses mostly male pronouns, such as "he", but the new code will switch from he and she to "they" when referring to individuals.
All forms generated by the city of Berkeley will soon have a space for people filling it out to designate which pronoun they prefer.
City officials said the cost of the changes is $600.