Everett considers gender-neutral terms for municipal code

EVERETT – “He,” “She,” and other gender-specific words in Everett Township Law could be replaced with gender-neutral terms later this year.

City officials are writing an ordinance for Everett City Council to review within a month. If approved, “firefighter” could become, for example, “firefighter”, “policeman” could become “police officer” and “his” could become, for example, “director”.

“As a trans person who isn’t binary, it really makes sense to feel included and supported in that way,” said Everett’s Natalia Tune, who serves on the Everett Diversity Advisory Board.

People in the LGBTQIA community have been subjected to harassment and violence in the past. According to FBI statistics compiled by local law enforcement agencies, there were 116 sexual orientation hate crimes and 17 gender hate crimes in the state two years ago. Last year, the number of hate crimes related to sexual orientation decreased to 50, but the number of hate crimes related to gender identity increased to 21.

A human rights campaign report on anti-transgender violence cites the dehumanization of trans people, lack of opportunities to participate fully in society, racism and sexism, and other factors as the cause of the murder of trans people. The report says that one way to counter this violence is to increase the visibility of trans people.

Tune campaigned for the language change last year and recently revived it with Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, who agreed to the idea. One of the mayor’s priorities was a “safe community,” which included making Everett “inclusive and welcoming.”

“It’s so important,” said Franklin. “We have a number of people who are pretty passionate about it, I’m passionate about it.”

Other cities and government agencies have made a similar shift. Berkeley, California made national headlines in 2019 for using gender-neutral terms. Shoreline did it last year.

Everett plans to use the company that hosts his community code, Code Publishing, to do the work. It is expected to cost at least $ 750, Franklin said.

Franklin, the first woman to be elected mayor of Everett, said she still runs into people who expect the office to be man-made. Just recently she received an email to “Dear Sir”.

This type of language change can educate people about the breadth of gender identity and normalize the question of their preferred pronouns if they are happy to share them, Tune said.

“Language is important and representation is important,” said Tune. “Inclusion is important. Seeing yourself represented in the government language should be done across the country. … Seeing ourselves in that language really makes a difference. ”

Franklin and Tune hope other governments in Snohomish County and across the state will make changes similar to Everett’s.

The regulation, if approved, could be official by the end of the year.

Ben Watanabe: [email protected]; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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