Activists Pressure London Mass Transit To End Gendered Announcements

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 12:09 pm, July 6, 2017
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A progressive activist has demanded London’s mass transit system stop using gendered language in its announcements to commuters.

Right now, Transport for London’s rulebook reportedly instructs its operators to “start all service announcements with ‘Ladies and Gentlemen,’ except for routine announcements, such as ‘mind the gap’ and ‘stand clear of the doors.’”

That directive is offensive and exclusionary, complained Aimee Challenor, the Green Party’s 19-year-old equalities spokesperson. The activist has suggested that “good morning, everyone” would be a better way to address commuters.

Challenor, who is transgender, reportedly became focused on mass-transit transphobia after she called Transport for London’s helpline last year and was told she “didn’t sound like a Miss.”

Aimee Challenor

The Green Party confronted Mayor Sadiq Khan about Challenor’s experience, prompting an official apology.

Khan said he would also mandate a review of Transit for London’s training and procedures to ensure “professional, respectful service that is inclusive and sensitive to the needs of all Londoners.” Already, Transport for London has adopted gay traffic signals at some crosswalks.

Speaking in December, Khan suggested that this reassessment may also include gender-neutral announcements on trains and buses. But more than seven months later, mass transit is still using “ladies and gentlemen” to address passengers.

Challenor slammed the lack of change in a blog post.

“Let me be clear, trans and non-binary travellers deserve better than empty promises from Sadiq Khan and Transport for London,” the activist wrote. “On Saturday, the Mayor will be celebrating LGBT+ diversity at Pride in London, perhaps he could put actions behind his words and showboating, and stop letting down diverse Londoners and visitors.”

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.