Ladies and Gentlemen: Inclusive language matters

It is coming up to a year since the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, stated he wanted change, to make announcement language on the London Underground more inclusive.

This commitment was met with some tabloid discreditation:

So that means 65,484,796 people who are happy with their gender are asked to tippy-toe around gender flip-floppers for fear of offending those who decide on the day where they sit on the gender spectrum. – Saira Khan, Mirror, 15 July ’17

PC gone mad? ‘Ladies and gentlemen’ announcements DROPPED as TfL goes ‘gender neutral’ – Will Kirby, Daily Express, 13 July ’17

Upon hearing this news last year, as a regular InterCity train user I was acutely aware of how my own train service provider and station still used “Ladies and Gentlemen”. So, I tweeted them. And I’ve tweeted them again, recently.

But, still :

– East Midlands Trains, 30th May 2018.

So, why is this important?

This isn’t about the 0.4% of the UK population who have declared as being transgender; it’s simply about everyone who doesn’t identify as a Lady or Gent. Children, those who ‘prefer not to say’, feminists, plebeians!

Quite frankly, the fact is, that the language isn’t inclusive, so why not say “Good morning/afternoon/evening, everyone”? What is so precious about this archaic salutation that we have to cling to it in our public announcements?

Political Correctness is a phrase that has been bandied about to ridicule those who will not benefit from a change in our language. Our thought processes are powered by our language. If we want to change oppressive thought-patterns and ideologies which perpetuate division, difference and exclusivity, we have to change our language.

If we do not change simple language like this, we’re effectively saying as a society, ‘You have to choose, you have to belong to one of these groups, otherwise, we don’t address you’. We are saying, ‘you are not free to be you and be accepted’.

It may seem trivial, but ask those who are affected by excluding language every minute of every hour of every day of their lives, and you’ll soon find out, these things do matter.