We’re in the midst of a revolution — in my estimation, one less of ideas than language.
However, it seems clear that eventually, language makes way for ideas.
Currently caught in our term transition: the London North Eastern Railway (LNER).
The 2003-founded British train company provides passenger transport from London King’s Cross to a trio of destinations: North East England, Yorkshire, and Scotland.
But as of this week, the group’s in trouble for a duo.
Of terms — and ideas.
On Twitter, a passenger who identifies as nonbinary posted a message addressed to LNER with a complaint.
Here’s how it went:
“‘Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…’ So as a nonbinary person, this announcement doesn’t actually apply to me, so I won’t listen.”
As reported by the Daily Mail, the tweeter — “Laurence” — serves as LGBT representative for the Rail, Maritime, and Transport Union.
Per the Mail, Laurence’s post “sparked a fierce debate over whether ‘language like this’ should be banned by companies.'”
It was only a matter of time — “ladies and gentlemen’s” days have clearly been numbered.
If, within any American institution, “mom” and “dad” can go the way of the dodo bird, “ladies and gentlemen” has no chance.
Woke $57k-a-year Grace Church School (@GCSchoolNYC) is telling students to stop referencing “mom” & “dad” — at their own homes! Also, students can’t ask each other “where are you from?” or use polite terms like “ladies & gentlemen."
And, of course, no “Merry Christmas.” pic.twitter.com/e78yd0qEWN
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 11, 2021
Surely some of you have already bulls-eyed other items soon to see the chopping block.
One for which I’m waiting: a Master’s degree.
And how about a name change for Master Lock?
In their defense, they’re trying to show a sensitive side:
Nurses are our everyday heroes. If you know a nurse who displays incredible strength, courage and commitment, show your appreciation and nominate them for our Community Champions award. Nominate here. https://t.co/9SQ4OviPUj#MasterLock #MasterLock100Years #MLCommunityChampions pic.twitter.com/x49RGfXyLx
— Master Lock Company (@MasterLockUS) May 11, 2021
Back to boys and girls riding trains, LNER didn’t waste any time.
It apologized publicly for the error.
Those greeting passengers need to watch their language:
“I’m really sorry to see this, Laurence, our Train Managers should not be using language like this, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention, please could you let me know which service you are on and I will ensure they remain as inclusive as we strive to be at LNER.”
A train company has apologised following a complaint from a non-binary passenger after the conductor greeted customers by saying "good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls." pic.twitter.com/E1kmtmMh56
— talkRADIO (@talkRADIO) May 13, 2021
Laurence’s tweets are protected, but @talkRADIO’s post provoked negative response:
“Language like this” – English you mean!?
— Lucy Johnson (@lucyjohnson38) May 13, 2021
This crap will only end when companies stop paying lip service to it.
— Ken Guy (@kenguy65) May 13, 2021
@LNER that reply’s a bit much i think. Apologise and if you want to send a memo out. I hope you wont be thinking its a discipline issue.
— Carwyn Fôn ✈️ (@CarwynFon) May 13, 2021
Someone defended Laurence, but that ignited a debate:
What if you haven’t got arms or legs?
Good morning everybody and half bodies
— TheLondoner (@TheLondoner9) May 13, 2021
"Good afternoon differently-configured torsos and body parts, my name is…"
— Lord Nelson (@LordN33lson) May 13, 2021
One user claimed to have been present when the non-inclusive calamity occurred:
“I was sat with Laurence when this tweet was sent. Both of us are non-binary, and we were both alarmed and uncomfortable by the lack of inclusion. This comes from an operator that has made a *big* push on LGBTQ+ inclusivity, including prominent Trainbow campaigns.
“Before the tweet was sent, we had a discussion about what to tweet and why — and you’ll notice stopped short of identifying the service in any obvious manner. This is not at all inappropriate. We (that is, railway staff in general) have a duty of care to all of our passengers.
“Both Laurence and I were ourselves customers of the railway — being rail staff does not absolve an operator of the duty of care or responsibility to be inclusive. Raising awareness of issues *is* educating — we shouldn’t be having these conversations behind closed doors.”
As reported by MyLondon, LNER also released a statement:
We are committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do for our customers, colleagues and communities. Our policies and procedures are reviewed regularly and in light of recent comments, we will review if any further changes need to be made.
It’s a new world, and the old ways are racing out of sight.
We’re on the fast track — like a train.
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