Across the country, gender-inclusive restrooms have become more and more common.
Berkeley City is taking it one step further.
Gender-specific words will be removed from the city’s municipal code. The change will cost the city about $600. The measure was unanimously passed by the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday. This was done as an effort to be inclusive.
In the city code, it will switch words like “she” and “he” to “them” and “they”. “Maintenance holes” will replace “manholes” and anything referred to as manmade will be called “artificial.” Moreover, “manpower” will then become “workforce” or “human effort.”
The move is drawing both scorn and praise.
18-year-old Lauren Singh who grew up in Berkeley approved. She said, “Everyone deserves to be represented and feel included in the community.” However, not everyone agrees. Berkeley carpenter Laramie Crocker said that it made him laugh.
"If you try to change the laws every time someone has a new opinion about something, it doesn't make sense. It's just a bad habit to get into," he stated. The 54-year-old added, “Let’s keep it simple, get back to work,” he said. “Let’s figure out how to get homeless people housed and fed. He, she, they, it — they’re wasting my time.”
23-year-old recent University of California graduate Councilman Rigel Robinson sponsored the ordinance. His tweet said, “there is power in language. It’s a small move, but it matters.”
Dee Williams-Ridley, Berkeley City Manager, stated in a memorandum addressed to the council, “in recent years,
broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender-nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity.”
The terms “fraternity” or “sorority” will be replaced with “collegiate Greek system residence.” Furthermore, pregnant woman or women will be switched to pregnant employees. Sibling will also replace brothers and sisters.
Berkeley has a long history of being a leader in terms of socially and politically liberal issues. Also on Tuesday, the city council voted to be in favor of becoming California’s first city to ban natural gas in new building construction. This will be in effect beginning Jan. 1, 2020.