“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome on board!” This harmless formula that we hear in many public transport systems is debated in the UK. A few days ago, the announcement of a train driver sparked a very strong controversy on social networks. History has gone so far that it has even reached the upper echelons of the English political world.
Gender identity at the center of the survey
Gender identity issues are becoming more and more important in our societies. They challenge a whole host of rules that have been widely accepted for decades, if not centuries. So habits that have become automatic over time are now being discussed … sometimes in a fiery manner.
This is especially true for certain forms, identity papers, public places like separate toilets … but it can also be things as harmless as polite formulas.
A railway company that is considered not to be included
With that in mind, a UK railroad company called LNER (for London North Eastern Railway) was recently selected for its discriminatory travel advertisements. The phrase “Dear Sir or Madam, welcome on board” was therefore criticized.
If this formula seems mechanical, it has been criticized for not including non-binary or agenic people. It turns out that the UK is much more advanced than France on gender issues. It is therefore one of the countries that have approved the option of choosing the “neutral” gender on identification papers. Additionally, since 2017, the London Underground has been putting aside announcements criticizing users based on their gender.
In some English companies, neutral agreements should be made when approaching customers. Public apostrophes are therefore based on polite expressions such as “Hello everyone!” Transports for London also chose this option, which was not the case with one of the LNER trains.
The railroad company was therefore challenged by a visibly angry non-binary user on social networks, which sparked controversy:
“Hello ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls …” As a non-binary person, this announcement does not apply to me, so I am not listening to @LNER
May 11, 2021
“Hello ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls …” This announcement is not considered a non-binary person, so I will not listen to it. “
Given this reaction, the company quickly apologized in support of people who may have been offended by the situation:
I’m really sorry to see this, Laurence, our train managers shouldn’t be using such language and thank you for bringing this to my attention. Could you please tell me what ministry you are on and I will make sure you stay as inclusive as we live to be at LNER.
May 11, 2021
“I am so sorry to see this, Laurence. Our skipper should not use such language and thank you for bringing this to my attention. Could you please tell me, you know what service you are using and I will take care of it it remains as comprehensive as we strive to be at LNER. “
Although this answer was very well received by most people, it sparked controversy in the UK Parliament itself. For example, Conservative-elect Mark Jenkinson publicly expressed his disapproval of the railroad company, believing the apology was utter nonsense.
In France, this type of survey is not yet available in public service companies. However, this question is taking up more and more space on the stage, especially thanks to the emergence of personalities like Demi Lovato or Elliot Page.