A European airline is embracing gender-neutral language in an attempt to recognize the identities of trans and nonbinary passengers and staff.
According to CNN, EasyJet — a competitor to RyanAir — will no longer be greeting customers who board its planes by referring to them as "ladies and gentlemen" in its welcome message, which erases individuals who are neither male nor female. Estimates from the U.S.-based nonprofit National Center for Trans Equality suggest that up to 35 percent of transgender people identify outside the gender binary.
Crew members instead will greet those boarding the aircraft by saying, "Welcome everyone." Additional gender-inclusive language may accompany the change, but other updates have not been specified.
In a statement to CNN, the low-cost airline did not state when the changes will be implemented but claims its goal is to provide a "welcoming environment" for all passengers. "We want our crew to be welcoming to everyone on board," a spokesperson for EasyJet claimed, "so [we] have provided some guidance to them on how best to do that in a way that is inclusive for everyone."
Eager to make a nonissue into a controversy, The Sun — a conservative British tabloid — claims the decision was made following "one Twitter complaint." Earlier this year University of London professor Andi Fugard pointed out the surfeit of gender-binary language on EasyJet’s planes.
"[A]re you in some kind of competition to see how many times you can reinforce gender binaries?" she asked in August, encouraging the company to "do better."
The Sun went onto cite tweets critical of EasyJet’s decision, with some calling it a "ridiculous move" and predicting that the company’s business would suffer as a result of caving to the demands of one individual. "#getwokegobroke," the Twitter user said.
While EasyJet did, indeed, respond to Fugard’s initial tweet, a spokesperson clarified that the decision had nothing to do with her comments.
The move, which follows Always’ decision to remove female-specific symbols from its maxi-pad packaging earlier this year, has been widely applauded by LGBTQ+ groups in the U.K. "Addressing a group of people with gender-neutral language is a really simple and positive way to make sure everyone feels welcome and included," the nonprofit Stonewall told CNN.