Today in Transphobia

[Trigger warning for transphobia and enforcement of a gender binary]

In case you weren't aware, riding the bus in Philadelphia is a lot like ordering a Happy Meal- you need to tell someone if it's for a boy or a girl. SEPTA, the regional transit authority, sells monthly passes. There are two extremely odd things about this:

1) They really are monthly passes. I guess an organization that runs a bazillion buses would find it too difficult to let people buy a 30 day pass that starts on whatever freakin' day they'd like.

2) Each pass comes in two flavors: male and female. It's sort of like how drivers' licenses and passports generally include gender markers, except in the case of SEPTA passes, there's no photo.

I'm pretty sure I can figure out the rationale for the monthly passes. SEPTA is lazy, and/or needs the money. Fair enough. (Government, amirite?)

As for sticking the gender on the pass, it's a theft prevention thing, on the grounds that men borrow or steal things exclusively from women, women exclusively from men, and that these are the only two possibilities. Interesting theory, that.

When I was in Helsinki, my transit pass had my picture on it. It seemed like a good way of demonstrating that it was mine, on those rare occasions when the women in the blue jumpsuits checked up on me. In Minneapolis and New York, a pass is a pass. If you want to go through the inconvenience of sharing your pass with someone, knock yourself out. Besides, the transit authorities in those places just don't have the money to pay employees to perform a gender test on every single passenger. Evidentially, SEPTA does.

Because SEPTA is sensitive to the needs of the community is purports to serve, it's working on a way to not put the gender stickers on the passes. Late last month, they announced that this would take around three more years-- technology, you see. But what's another three years of [TW] discrimination among friends?

You can sign the petition against SEPTA's discriminatory passes here*.

* "Gay Rights Petition"? Fail.

[Via @MaraKeisling and @change]

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