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Washington State Is Now Gender Neutral

Governor Jay Inslee
Taylor Hill, Getty Images

When you remove all the “he”, “his”, “she” and “her” pronouns for all the laws and legal jargon in your state laws, you either 1.) have entirely too much time on your hands, 2.) wish to waste taxpayer dollars on something so trivial as to not offend someone with a suffix or prefix or 3.) want to make the “stupid’ list.

According to Reuters, Washington governor Jay Inslee gets the “stupid helmet” award. He just signed into law a rewrite state laws using gender-neutral vocabulary. This means that the effort over the past 6 years to remove the “gender bias” of certain words, would culminate in now having to find a suitable word to mean the same thing for all future laws.

“This was a much larger effort than I had envisioned. Mankind means man and woman,” said Democratic state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle.

Thus far, the state has scrubbed all of their laws and directives to remove and replace over 40,000 words. Some of the notables on the list:

  • Fireman to Fireperson
  • Fisherman to Fisher
  • Penmanship to Handwriting
  • Journeyman Plumber to Journey-level Plumber
  • Signalman to Signal Operator
  • Freshman to First-Year-Student
  •  Policeman to Police
  • Dairymen to Dairy Farmer
  • Man’s Past to Humankind’s Past
  • Prudent Man or Woman to Prudent Person
  • Ombudsman to Ombud
  • Postman to Mail Carrier

Unfortunately for the great state of Washington, they couldn’t find appropriate words for “man lock” and “man hole”. Also words like “airman” and “seaman” won’t be replaced as there was opposition from the state of Washington Military Department.

So why do this?

“Words matter,” said Liz Watson, a senior adviser to the National Women’s Law Center, according to Reuters. “This is important in changing hearts and minds.”

Keep in mind, Washington state isn’t the only one to un-gender themselves. Florida and Minnesota have already done this. Washington is only one of the first, but not the first.

Makes you wonder, how will we ask for the Men’s or Women’s Restroom. Or do we just ask “where can I do #1 standing/sitting”?

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