Scrapping ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’?

While Trump has just banned transgenders from the military, Amsterdam announced that they will henceforth only use gender neutral language. Just two weeks earlier, the London Underground announced to scrap ‘ladies and gentlemen’ for a gender-neutral greeting and yesterday the NS, the biggest train operator in the Netherlands announced that they will do the same. I think this is a great initiative, one that will hopefully be followed by other places soon but a lot of people are taking this as something bad. They are leaving negative comments on something that I think should be celebrated and I don’t understand why.

Why does the change matter? Do you have to be reminded that you are a man or a woman by having a voice say, ‘good morning ladies and gentlemen’? I’m pretty sure we’re all intelligent enough to know and be aware, without the need to be told, that we are either a man or a woman or something else. By using ‘ladies and gentleman’ we exclude ‘something else’. What’s wrong with good morning passengers? It won’t make you less of a lady or a gentleman but it does include everyone, which I think is only fair.

I don’t understand all the negative responses (please do explain to me if you wish, I am open to listening) but it almost seems as if there is a resistance only because of, once again, change. A lot of people seem to be so afraid of change that they respond negatively and I can only imagine that the reason for this comes out of a fear of losing something that they hold dear. To be honest, I once responded negatively to something that was about to change. My first reaction to the suggestion of changing black Pete was a definite ‘no!’ – until I started to think and evaluate and realised that it actually does not matter. Not to mention that black Pete is a kind of racially insensitive (to put it lightly).

I was initially against the possible change because I didn’t want people to change something I dearly loved as a child. Even more so, the fact that the people in power could change it without my permission frustrated me. Thankfully, I came to my senses relatively quickly and maybe that’s what people need, just a little bit of time to get used to the idea. Of course, in five years time, there will still be those two travellers that will say to each other once the gender neutral announcement has been: ‘I can’t believe they changed this. We have the right to be called.’ But I am quite hopeful and confident that in the future the majority of people will not mind being spoken to as travellers.

I wonder if one of the issues that people have with this change has to do with how people will now have to actively acknowledge that there aren’t just men and woman. But then again, I’d like to ask why this is an issue and how are you bothered by this idea? It does not disrupt your life in any way. It will only bother you if you choose to be bothered by it for no other reason than being close minded. Even if you disagree you could just let people be and get on with your life; live happily and peacefully and allow other people to do the same. Can I just point out that we are all human beings; we all have to live through so many years on this planet which can be filled with joy but also a lot of crap. Why can’t we all be a little bit more accepting, kind and respectful to one another?

I’m also pretty sure that someone who identifies as non-binary knows what they are. They know they don’t want the label of a man or a woman and no one has to right to question that. And you know what? It’s pretty damn impressive that they know and reject the label because unlike the majority, they weren’t able to pick one of two easy options as provided by society. They had to figure it out on their own and I say cheers to that.


What does non-binary mean? 

I read both Dutch and English columns and newspapers. Sometimes I like to respond to Dutch actualities, and sometimes I like to respond to British news.

Leave a Reply