Friday, June 14, 2024

‘Words have a powerful effect’: BC to become first province to ‘de-gender’ the government


BC will soon be the first province in Canada to systematically change provincial laws in order to remove gendered language. 

The province says they are doing this to improve access to all government services, programs and positions.

Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation, introduced the modernized legislation that will amend over 2,300 instances of gender-binary language across 21 ministries. 

“Words have a powerful effect, whether written or spoken, and all British Columbians deserve to see themselves reflected in BC’s programs and services,” said Bailey. 

“We know that outdated language across government can exclude thousands of people. That’s why we’re taking action to replace these words with diversity, equity and inclusion at the top of our minds.”

Example terms like “he/she” will be corrected to “they,” “chairwoman” will be changed to “chairperson,” etc. This will create more space for people who do not fall into the gender-binary to be better serviced by the government. Employees will also benefit if their preferred pronouns do not coincide with their position. 

“Trans and non-binary people, particularly youth, can be erased by laws that use only he and she,” said Adrienne Smith, Litigation Director at the Catherine White Holman Wellness Society trans legal clinic. 

“This change signals to those people that they are important, and that they are included and protected by the law.”

This process is not new, but it will be the end of gendered language in BC’s government. Ever since 2020, more than 1,400 instances of gendered language have already been amended. 

Curtis Blandy

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