Last week, the Berkeley City Council passed an ordinance that replaced gendered language in the city’s code with gender neutral language.
Implementing gender-neutral language in our cities and organizations reflects one of East Bay for Everyone’s closest held values: inclusion. We believe that our cities must be inclusive in order to create universal prosperity. We believe in transforming our cities responsibly to support human civilization. Gender is no exception. The patriarchy has no place in an East Bay for Everyone.
Gendered language simultaneously reflects and reinforces a reality where some people are elevated above others. If all governmental chairs are men, for example, our language of referring to them as “chairmen” reinforces that reality and makes it difficult to envision a more inclusive one.
We believe in inclusion, as an organization, as a community, and as a part of the East Bay. Diversity and solidarity with all disempowered peoples are preconditions for the East Bay to continue to be for everyone. Historical patterns of governance and development have excluded the voices of those who are most impacted, stripping them of their own autonomy. This is not what a just society with robust civic participation looks like, and we must not replicate it in our own work. We include all voices in conversations and decisions, elevate those not present, and are building a community that has space for and values everyone. When we call ourselves East Bay for Everyone, we mean Everyone.
We are inspired by Berkeley City Council’s decision to replace its gendered language, and we ask that other East Bay cities follow suit. If you live in a city (you probably do), we urge you to write your city council and city attorney to pass an ordinance that degenders the laws, and brings meaningful intent in describing the reality we want to see.