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Berkeley, California, to Remove Gendered Language Like 'Manhole' and 'Manpower' from City Codes

Helen Murphy
Berkeley to Remove Gendered Language from City Codes

The city of Berkeley, California, voted to move forward with an ordinance that would remove gendered language from its municipal codes, replacing it with gender-neutral terminology.

The Berkeley city council voted on the measure on Tuesday, according to CNN. The outlet reports that the primary author of the bill, council member Rigel Robinson, said that the measure passed without discussion or controversy.

The measure would replace all gendered pronouns like “he” or “she” in Berkeley’s city codes with “they,” “them” or the specific title of the person. According to Berkeleyside, the code currently uses mostly masculine pronouns.

Additionally, gendered words like “manhole,” “manmade,” “salesman” and “policewoman” would be changed to a gender-neutral term instead — for example, the proposed change to “manhole” is “maintenance hole.”

The full list also includes the words “manpower,” “repairman,” “sorority” and “fraternity.”

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Robinson praised the passage of the measure on Twitter.

“Tonight, Berkeley City Council adopted first reading of an ordinance responding to my proposal revising the municipal code to include gender neutral pronouns,” Robinson wrote. “There is power in language. This is a small move, but it matters.”


In the text of the measure, the authors explained that they believed updating the city code “by eliminating any gender preference language” will “promote equality.”

According to NBC News, the measure will be reviewed again next week, and changes would go into effect in late August.

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Berkeleyside reports that it will cost the city about $600 to update the code.

“Having a male-centric municipal code is inaccurate and not reflective of our reality,” Robinson said, according to CNN. “Women and non-binary individuals are just as entitled to accurate representation. Our laws are for everyone, and our municipal code should reflect that.”