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Train conductors warned not use ‘ladies and gentleman’ after complaint from non-binary passenger

·3-min read
LNER services (PA Archive)
LNER services (PA Archive)

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has said its conductors will be warned to not use the greeting "ladies and gentlemen" following a complaint from a non-binary passenger.

LNER said train managers should not use the phrase to avoid offending passengers who might identify as neither male nor female.

It comes after a complaint from a passenger on social media, the Telegraph reports.

In a Twitter post directed to LNER, the passenger wrote: “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…” As a non-binary person this announcement doesn’t actually apply to me, so I won’t listen.”

LNER replied to the complainant, agreeing that train managers “should not be using language like this”.

“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,” the spokesman added.

In a later statement to the publication, LNER confirmed that the use of the phrase would be examined, adding it was “committed to diversity and inclusion in all that we do for our customers, colleagues and communities”.

The announcement prompted a mixed response on social media, with some agreeing with the move and others happy for conductors to keep the phrase.

Jarley, an operator who was seated next to the complainant at the time of the announcement, tweeted: “I was sat with Laurence when this tweet was sent. Both of us are non-binary, and we were both alarmed and uncomfortable by the lack of inclusion.

“This comes from an operator that has made a *big* push on LGBTQ+ inclusivity, including prominent Trainbow campaigns.

“Both Laurence and I were ourselves, customers of the railway - being rail staff does not absolve an operator of the duty of care or responsibility to be inclusive.

“Raising awareness of issues *is* educating - we shouldn’t be having these conversations behind closed doors.”

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Another wrote: “We’re really proud of how well @LNER’s social media team have been dealing with the continued backlash against their support for inclusive language yesterday.

“It’s awful that some people still consider ‘everyone is welcome/included’ to be a radical and offensive statement.”

Another customer stated that they found the phrase “rather lovely”.

“I travel regularly with you and being greeted by a driver with a cheery ‘Morning, ladies and gentlemen’ is not offensive. It’s rather lovely,” the customer wrote.

LNER said the train manager who prompted the initial complaint would not face any disciplinary action, adding that staff would be encouraged to issue announcements “with no gender mentioned” in future.

Mark Jenkinson, the Conservative MP for Workington, said: "You’d be forgiven for thinking this train manager had unleashed a tirade of abuse.

"He’d actually said, ‘Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls’.

"Identify however you like, but can we stop this nonsense?"

LNER is the latest company to ditch the phrase “ladies and gentlemen” in favour of more inclusive language.

The phrase was discarded from announcements on the Tube in 2017, in a bid to make them gender-neutral.

Bosses at Transport for London told staff to use terms such as “good morning everyone” to ensure all passengers feel welcome.

LGBTQ+ campaigners have fought for gender-neutral language, explaining that phrases such as “ladies and gentlemen” exclude people who do not identify as male or female.

Instead of “he” or “she”, non-binary people sometimes prefer to be referred to by gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” or “zie”.

London North Eastern Railway said has been approached for comment.

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