News & Opinion | July 19, 2019 9:38 am

City of Berkeley Doing Away With Gender-Specific Words Like “Manholes”

In 2014, the state replaced "husband" and "wife" with the more inclusive "spouse"

Manholes will now go by "maintenance holes." (Mario Tama/ Getty)
Getty Images

There are many reasons why “manholes” is an ugly word, but Berkeley is choosing to go with its lack of gender inclusivity.

The City Council of the California town voted unanimously this week to change up a number of words in all of its official documentation and signage — words like manhole will become a maintenance hole, craftsmen will be known as artisans, firemen and policemen will just be fighters and officers, respectively, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity,” council member Rigel Robinson wrote in a letter to his colleagues earlier this year, the Times reported. “It is both timely and necessary to make the environment of City Hall and the language of city legislation consistent with the principles of inclusion.”

Changing up the words the city uses in official capacities is not the only move Berkeley has made towards becoming more gender-neutral — former California state Governor Jerry Brown instituted a law in 2014 that replaced “husband” and “wife” in the state code to the more all-encompassing “spouse.” In 2017, the state became the first in the nation to provide residents with a third, neutral option on their forms of identification like driver’s licenses and birth certificates, according to the Times.

Editor’s Note: RealClearLife, a news and lifestyle publisher, is now a part of InsideHook. Together, we’ll be covering current events, pop culture, sports, travel, health and the world. Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.