Don’t call them manholes. Berkeley City Council removes gendered language from city code

Bye bye bondsman and farewell fireman.

The Berkeley City Council on Tuesday moved to strike and replace all gendered language in the municipal code.

“In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity,” City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley wrote in a memorandum to council, later writing that “amending the municipal code to include gender-neutral pronouns by eliminating any gender preference language within the municipal code will promote equality.”

As a result, dozens of mostly masculine, and some feminine, subject and possessive pronouns and descriptors will be amended within the city code.

Terms like policeman or policewoman will be replaced with police officer. Other terms that will be changed out include bondsman (bonds-person), brother and sister (sibling), maiden (family), manhole (maintenance hole), male and female (people of different genders) and master (captain, skipper, pilot, safety officer or central, depending on context).

The update is expected to cost the city $600, paid from the city general fund.

The full list of updated terms can be found here.

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune

Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.