From France, rather behind on the issue of inclusiveness compared to its Anglo-Saxon neighbor, the situation may come as a surprise. On May 11, the British train company London North Eastern Railway apologized on Twitter to a traveler for a non-inclusive message broadcast during a trip.
It all started with a welcome to the “ladies and gentlemen” (Ladies and gentlemen) broadcast on a train by a conductor and addressed to passengers getting on board. Among them, Laurence Coles, a train agent, LGBTQ + representative for the National Union of Railway, Shipping and Transport Workers. Laurence Coles is also non-binary. Hurt by these words, she wrote in the wake on Twitter: “Hello ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…. As a non-binary person, this announcement does not apply to me, so I will not listen to it ”.
“Our train drivers should not use language like this”
The train company, known for its LGBTQ + inclusiveness efforts including the creation of the UK’s very first Pride Train, reacted quickly. “I’m so sorry to see this, Laurence, our train drivers shouldn’t use language like this, and thank you for bringing it to our attention,” the company tweeted, adding that it would make sure to “remain as inclusive as we strive to be at LNER”.
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.
— London North Eastern Railway (@LNER) May 11, 2021
Contacted by the British press, LNER said that the train driver would not be subject to any disciplinary action, but that the staff must now publish announcements “without mentioning sex”. The company is far from the first to abandon the expression in the United Kingdom. The London Underground has removed it since 2017.
“Can we stop this nonsense?”
The event did not elicit only positive reactions. Mark Jenkinson, the Conservative MP for Workington, felt “that it” made no sense “to apologize for such a message, before continuing:” Identify as you wish, but can we stop this nonsense? “
In the UK, LGBTQ + activists are fighting to make phrases like ‘ladies and gentlemen’ excluding people who do not identify as male or female disappear.