Air passengers who do not identify as Male or Female will soon have additional options to select when booking. Although a timeframe has yet to be given, passengers will soon have the option of giving their gender as “unspecified” or “undisclosed.”
The move will be welcomed in America where 25-25% of transgender people identify as non-binary. Until now, passengers have only had the option of Male or Female when booking flights, a question which cannot presently be skipped. However, since Oregon ruled that a person could be non-binary, things have started to change in the US.
There has never been a higher population of transgender people. Transgender people are individuals who do not recognise the gender they were declared at birth. They often choose to live as though they are of the other gender, or no gender at all. In fact, some of these individuals have surgery to physically become another gender.
Historically there has only been two choices of gender. Male and female. When the transgender movement became more accepted in society, it became possible for people to legally swap their gender from male to female or vice versa. However, they could only swap it, so had to pick one or the other.
In 2003 Australia was the first to recognise a person as being neither male, nor female. The first person to be recognised under this status in the United States was Jamie Shupe. In 2016, a court in Oregon ruled that they could be recognised as non-binary.
The move is designed to make everybody feel as comfortable and included as possible. If somebody spends every day living without a gender, why should they have to choose one when they fly? Airlines for America told Simple Flying: “U.S. airlines value a culture of diversity and inclusion, both in the workplace and for our passengers, and we work hard each day to accommodate the needs of all travelers, while delivering a safe, secure and enjoyable flight experience.”
Airlines for America currently has 9 members:
- Alaska Airlines;
- American Airlines;
- Atlas Air (Freight);
- FedEx (Freight);
- Hawaiian Airlines;
- JetBlue Airways;
- Southwest Airlines;
- United Airlines;
- UPS (Freight).
Despite not being a member of Airlines for America, Delta Airlines is also set to add non-binary genders.
The new standard for recognising non-binary passengers in aviation will go live on June 1st, however, it is up to the individual airlines to roll changes out.
United Airlines tweeted that they will be rolling out the changes over the coming weeks:
In the coming weeks, customers will be able to select the gender with which they most closely identify during the booking process. https://t.co/NSoaZS6krb
— United Airlines (@united) February 15, 2019
Simple Flying spoke to a representative of Southwest Airlines, who told us: “Since Southwest Airlines’ inception, we have always put People first and lived by the Golden Rule by maintaining mutual respect for our fellow Southwest Airlines Employees, our Customers, and the diverse communities we serve. Please know that while we don’t have a timeframe to share, Southwest is currently investigating solutions and the technical requirements needed to provide our Customers non-binary gender marker options during the booking process.”
It is unclear when other operators will roll out the changes.