Berkeley City Council Votes to Ban Gender-Specific Words

Manholes Pop Up Near Empire State Building

Legislators in Berkeley, California, voted Tuesday to eliminate more than two-dozen gender-specific terms in its city code and replace them with more gender-neutral words. The measure proposed changing words such as 'manpower' or 'manhole' in the city's municipal code to 'human effort' or 'maintenance hole' and 'he' and 'she' to 'they' and 'them.'

The measure replacing the gender-specific language passed in a unanimous vote by the Berkeley City Council, Tuesday night.

"Amending the municipal code to include gender-neutral pronouns by eliminating any gender preference language within the municipal code will promote equality," the measure states.

The measure revises other terminology found in Berkeley's city code which has up until now, mostly used masculine pronouns. Job titles, such as 'policeman,' will be changed to 'police officer' while things like 'Sorority' and 'Fraternity' are changed to the gender-neutral 'collegiate Greek system residence.' Even words like 'brother' and 'sister' have been replaced with 'sibling' while gendered pronouns such as, he and she, would be replaced with specific titles such as 'the official' or 'the operator.'

Council member Rigel Robinson, who proposed the measure, praised lawmakers for passing it in a tweet Tuesday night.

"Tonight, Berkeley City Council adopted first reading of an ordinance responding to my proposal revising the municipal code to include gender neutral pronouns," Robinson wrote. "There is power in language. This is a small move, but it matters."

You can see the full list of eliminated words here.

Photo: Getty Images

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