California city bans gender-specific words like 'manhole,' 'policeman' from municipal code

Alex Lasker

The Berkeley City Council voted Tuesday night to approve an ordinance that would eliminate gender-specific pronouns from its municipal code.

Under the new measure, gendered words in the city's regulations such as "manhole" and "policeman" would be updated to "maintenance hole" and "police officer," respectively, Berkeleyside reports. 

Additionally, gender-specific pronouns such as "he" and "she" would be changed to "they" or "them," both of which would indicate a single individual, "unless the context indicates the contrary."

"Amending the municipal code to include gender-neutral pronouns by eliminating any gender preference language within the municipal code will promote equality," the council explained its decision.  

See some of the word swaps: 

The new measure was first introduced by Rigel Robinson, a 23-year-old city council member, on the March 12 agenda, according to KTVU

"Language has power. The words we use are important," Robinson said. "It's not only timely but necessary to make sure that our laws really speak for everyone." 

Berkeleyside reports the change to the code update will cost the city $600.