Gender-neutral language in state laws

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Mon Feb 4 22:25:08 UTC 2013

According to the Seattle Times (, Washington is the third state to do a complete overhaul of its laws to effectuate gender neutrality.

Among the interesting changes (see also

"his" -> "his or her" (perhaps this sequence was selected to match "he or she")
fisherman -> fisher
freshman -> first-year student
(railway) fireman -> fire tender
longshoreman -> longshore worker
man's cause -> person's cause
man's past -> humankind's past
ombudsman -> ombuds (despite it being a borrowing, "-man" appears to mean "man" in Swedish ( and has the appearance of gender bias in English)
penmanship -> handwriting
sportsmanship -> sporting/hunting behavior

Excluded from change for concerns about confusion:

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA
The American Dialect Society -

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