Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) requires their monthly transit passes to be marked with an “F” or an “M” sticker. You know, “F” for female and “M” for male. High tech stuff, really. In theory, these stickers prevent people from sharing their passes with their friends or family. Of course, this assumes that gals only have male friends and family, and males vice versa, to share their passes with.
Transit drivers have to determine the gender of the passenger before allowing them to board. Failure to look like the gender marked on your card can get you kicked off the train. This has resulted in a lot of confusion as passengers are interrogated about their gender presentation in front of a busload of commuters.
On December 15, Riders Against Gender Exclusion (RAGE), a local organization fighting the policy, unveiled their Bill of Rights in front of a room of transit officials. The document provided SEPTA with an easily adoptable rule to allow trans riders to go to work, school and the deli without fear of being publicly outed. RAGE says that they have received numerous complaints by gender non-conforming passengers who were refused service or had to buy another ticket. In the recession, this means that transgender people can be paying twice as much to ride the bus.
No other major metropolitan areas in the U.S. use gender markers on their monthly passes. The transit company appears to be taking a lot of flak for the policy. SEPTA’s Citizen Advisory Committee unanimously voted to remove the stickers, but management has declined. Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, a statewide LGBT group, has filed a complaint with the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission to no avail. A sane person would just stop putting the sticker on the passes and call it a day. Think of all the sticker trees that get cut down every year!
As we move into 2011, it’s time to put our New Year’s resolutions into effect. I know that I, for one, look silly with a beard.
petition text -
I am writing to you to express my concern over Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority’s policy that requires a gender identification sticker on monthly passes. These stickers discriminate against transgender and gender non-conforming passengers and need to be removed.
No other major city in the United States requires passengers to identify their gender on their monthly, non-commuter transit passes. SEPTA workers should not have to determine someone’s gender when a passenger boards a SEPTA vehicle. Philadelphia, where much of SEPTA’s business occurs, prohibits gender identity discrimination. SEPTA’s practice of labeling its passengers’ gender is unfair, potentially requiring passengers to identify their gender identity in public. This can be devastating to transgender and gender non-conforming people who are not out to their employers, friends or family.
SEPTA's Citizen Advisory Committee unanimously agreed that the stickers should be removed from transpasses and trailpasses. An official complaint has already been filed with the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission regarding this unfair policy.
Not only is this policy humiliating to transgender and gender non-conforming passengers, but it can be dangerous. No one wants to worry about discrimination on their way to work. Please remove this policy for the safety of all transit riders.
[Your name here]