New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC), in Dec., recommended that For-Hire Vehicle (FHV) and Taxicab drivers ask passengers their preferred pronouns – and should not assume that physical appearance corresponds to traditional notions of male and female. Drivers should also consider sharing their own pronouns, according to the advisory, titled “Inclusive Language Tips.”
The tips are not a new policy, they are just suggestions, according to TLC spokeswoman, Rebecca Harshbarger.
“Using someone’s preferred pronoun is a simple way to show respect,” according to the email, which suggests “they” or “ze” as a default in cases in which the driver does not want to ask.
The TLC’s email comes as the culture undergoes a linguistic introspection over how to refer to people. Some say their sex, as listed on their birth certificate, does not correspond with their gender identity. It is not uncommon for those whose preferred pronouns correspond to their birth certificates – known as cisgender people – to proactively volunteer pronouns as a way to offset the burden of trans and other nonconforming people to volunteer their pronoun preference.
In Dec., the dictionary Merriam-Webster announced “they” as the word of the year.
The TLC’s email is one of the latest gender-related policies from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, relating to people who are transgender, nonbinary or who otherwise do not conform to traditional gender notions. In 2018, de Blasio signed legislation giving city residents three gender options on their birth certificates, including “x” for neither male nor female. In 2016, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued legal guidance to employers, landlords, businesses and other professionals to use preferred pronouns, and that “refusal to use a transgender employee’s preferred name, pronoun, or title may constitute unlawful gender-based harassment.”
About 1.4 million transgender adults live in the United States, about 0.58% of the population, according to the Williams Institute in Los Angeles.
“Communicating with our drivers about ways they can make passengers feel more welcome and comfortable through customer service is something we take seriously, as is being respectful to all New Yorkers,” TLC spokesman Allan J. Fromberg said.
Preferred pronoun tips
- Ask the passenger what their pronoun is. Do not assume someone’s pronoun because of their appearance or name on the app.
- If you do not want to ask, you can ask how they preferred to be called or use the gender-neutral pronoun such as “they” or “ze.”
- Introduce yourself and share your pronouns.
- Some examples of pronouns are: he/him, she/her, they/them, ze/hir/zir.
- If you make a mistake using a pronoun, be sure to apologize.
- Do not use words such as it or he-she. This is offensive to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) community.