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Airlines to Offer More Gender Choices

The ticketing process of at least six airlines which are based in the United States will reportedly change in the near future to offer passengers the option of identifying themselves other than as either male or female — even though the Transportation Security Administration advises that passengers should use the name, gender and birth date on their identification officially issued by the government.

Airlines to Offer More Gender Choices

Individuals who do not identify themselves as either male or female currently face having their ticketing information not match their legal official forms of identification. This new initiative is intended to alleviate that issue.

In order to be more inclusive in dealing with a diverse population of travelers, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines are currently in the process of updating their ticket booking tools and plan to add a binary option to the gender menu on their official Internet web sites within the next several weeks. In addition to male or female, choices could include undisclosed or unspecified.

“United Airlines plans to let people select M for male, F for female, U for undisclosed or X for unspecified from the gender menu when booking a ticket on its website or mobile app,” Andrea Hiller — who is a spokeswoman for United Airlines — said, according to this article written by David Koenig for the Associated Press. “They will also have the option of picking ‘Mx.’ as a title.” This is to ensure that “all of our customers feel comfortable and welcome no matter how they self-identify.”

Airline trade groups — such as Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association — recently approved a new standard to handle customers with what are known as nonbinary forms of identification. The optional guidance becomes effective as of Saturday, June 1, 2019; and the change will allow airlines to comply with requirements under the laws of the United States and other countries which passenger information must match what is on the form of official identification used by a person for travel.


This news reminds me of when a measure was passed by the city of Charlotte to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from businesses which discriminate against them. It was set to become effective as of Friday, April 1, 2016; but what was to be the new state law — which was signed by Pat McCrory, who was the governor of North Carolina at the time — overrode and therefore reversed the measure, which resulted in companies, professional sports organizations and government agencies to ban official travel to the state of North Carolina.

Commercial airlines have been striving to ensuring greater inclusiveness to their customers and employees in recent years; and adding gender choices is not the only action on which they have embarked. For example, a recent announcement from Alaska Airlines pledges that the airline will hire more black female pilots by the year 2025.

I do not expect this initiative by the airlines to be anywhere nearly as controversial; although interestingly, this news is nowhere to be found on any of the official Internet web sites of the National Center for Transgender Equality and Human Rights Campaign — nor those of Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Airlines for America or the International Air Transport Association — at the time that this article was written…

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