(Reuters) – Washington state’s governor signed into law on Monday the final piece of a six-year effort to rewrite state laws using gender-neutral vocabulary, replacing terms such as “fisherman” and “freshman” with “fisher” and “first-year student.”
Lawmakers have passed a series of bills since 2007 to root out gender bias from Washington statutes, though a 1983 state mandate required that all laws be written in gender-neutral terms unless a specification of gender was intended.
“This was a much larger effort than I had envisioned. Mankind means man and woman,” said Democratic state Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles of Seattle.
The new gender-neutral references, for example, include “journey-level plumber” instead of “journeyman plumber,” “handwriting” in place of “penmanship,” and “signal operator” for “signalman.”
“There’s no good reason for keeping our legal terms anachronistic and with words that do not respect our current contemporary times,” Kohl-Welles, the 475-page bill’s sponsor, told Reuters.
Several words, however, aren’t easy to replace, said Kyle Thiessen, the state’s code reviser, who heads up the 40-staff Washington Code Reviser’s Office agency.
The state likely won’t change the words “airmen” and “seaman,” for example, because of objections by the state’s Washington Military Department, he said.
Civil engineering terms such as “man hole” and “man lock,” also will not be changed because no common-sense substitutes could easily be found, Thiessen said.
Nearly 3,500 Washington state code sections, out of a total of about 40,000 have been tediously scrubbed of gender bias, although most involve adding pronouns “she” and “her” to augment the existing “he” and “his,” Thiessen said.
40, count ‘ em, 40 people staff the “Code Reviser’s Office agency”? Wow. I guess Washington state has no more pressing issues to deal with than to tackle so-called “gender bias” where none exists. The article mentions that – among others – my beloved state of North Carolina, sadly, has engaged in this effort to make man-haters feel relevant as well. Words fail …. *insert annoyed face here*