Airlines Are Going Overboard to Accommodate Non-Binary Gender Options

Welcome to 2019. Ideally speaking, everyone could be whoever they wanted and not have to define themselves in one way or another to strangers.
Air Canada moves towards being more gender inclusive 7 photos
Air Canada will no longer welcome fliers with "ladies and gentlemen," but with "everyone"United Airlines is the first U.S. airline to include the gender X as booking optionPorter Airlines from Canada is also moving towards being more gender inclusiveWestJet from Canada is also moving towards being more gender inclusiveBritish Airways says it's considering including gender X as a booking optionAir New Zealand says it's considering including gender X as a booking option
In reality, we’re often boxed in by labels. Airline companies are working towards recognizing more of them in official forms, so that certain segments of the population don’t feel left out anymore. There’s a whiff of change in the air – and you can also smell it at several thousand feet.

In October 2019, a memo sent to Air Canada staff got out in the media, making headlines around the world: it urged staff not to include the “ladies and gentlemen” formula in onboard or airport greetings. The actual change would be implemented later but anyone from gate agents to flight attendants had to be ready when it happened, the memo noted.

“We want to ensure an inclusive space for everyone, including those who identify with gender X,” the memo read. “The change will be reflected in the transmission of the Onboard Announcement Manual as part of our commitment to respect gender identity, diversity and inclusion. We will tell you when this transmission will be available and when to implement this change.”

Instead of the old-fashioned formula, staff were to use terms like “everyone,” which would erase traditional gender definitions and be more inclusive of those who identify themselves as gender X, non-binary or those who would rather not identify themselves to others at all. It was a necessary step towards inclusiveness and equality, and one long overdue, according to transgender activists.

United Airlines is the first U\.S\. airline to include the gender X as booking option
In reality, Air Canada is not the first airline to make this kind of change, nor will it be the last. Also in 2019, United Airlines in the U.S. became the first airline to include gender X in its booking forms online, offering passengers the option to choose X for non-binary gender or U for undisclosed, in addition to M (male) and F (female).

Canada’s Porter Airlines and WestJet are also working towards including non-binary gender in booking forms, also as a means to offer fliers the chance to identify as they want. Air New Zealand, the Lufthansa Group and British Airways are also considering the change, but are yet to announce anything official.

Overall, there is a current of change sweeping over the aviation industry, aimed at offering those who identify as non-binary the chance to be recognized as just that.

State agencies have also embraced the change. In Canada, Denmark, Australia, Pakistan, India, Germany, Malta, Nepal, New Zealand and Ireland, you can get a passport with the gender X on it. Other governments, such as that in the U.K., are also considering the possibility of including a third gender option on travel documents, but they are yet to get there. For the time being, in the U.K., you can identify as non-binary (Mx) on certain government documents or with certain businesses, but not on passports or IDs.

As you can imagine, each of one of these announcements were welcomed with a combination of outrage and relief, prompting mixed reactions of a very passionate nature. At the end of the day, though, if you think about it, it really shouldn’t be anyone else’s business who you want to be and, in an ideal world, you would be free and able to legally be just that person.

WestJet from Canada is also moving towards being more gender inclusive
But we don’t live in an ideal world. The idea that you can choose your own gender continues to be regarded as a typical, stupid move from the snowflake generation, while many argue that changes towards adjusting to it are money down the drain. Especially for an industry as large as aviation.

In the greater scheme of things, it may look like changing the formula “ladies and gentlemen” to “everyone” is the least pressing issue airline companies have to deal with right now. As in, they could be focusing on other, more important matters, like the issue of delayed refunds, delays in scheduling or poor communication with passengers in case of an unexpected event.

Then again, people are dying because of the lack of inclusion and proper recognition: according to Human Rights Campaign, in 2018, there were at least 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. alone. By mid-2019, 21 more people, also transgender or non-gender conforming, had died from targeted acts of violence. Maybe saying “hello, everyone” instead of “ladies and gentlemen” is a silly thing but if it can save a life, should we really be complaining about it?
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
About the author: Elena Gorgan
Elena Gorgan profile photo

Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories