London – Words such as "manhole", "brother" and "ombudsman" are to be banned from official use in a city that has decided to embrace a gender neutral makeover.
Employees of the city council in Berkeley, California, will have to watch their language, with personal pronouns changing from "he" or "she" to "they" and "them".
Among scores of other changes pregnant women will be called "pregnant employees", a brother a "sibling’ and an heir a "beneficiary".
The overhaul comes after the city, 12 miles from San Francisco, decided such terms were no longer appropriate and that the municipal code should be "degenderised". The change is both necessary and timely, the council declared.
However, residents of Berkeley – although it is one of the most liberal cities in the US – have heavily criticised the decision on social media. Berkleyside, a local news website was also deluged with comments criticising the council for ‘empty gestures’ and trying to divert attention from "real issues" such as crumbling infrastructure.
City council documents outlining the changes said: "In recent years, broadening societal awareness of transgender and gender nonconforming identities has brought to light the importance of non-binary gender inclusivity."
Council member Rigel Robinson, a key backer of the shake-up, said: "Gender-neutral language creates a lot of room to acknowledge that it’s not just men running the country."
At 23, Mr Robinson is the youngest council member in the city’s history. He is also a graduate of the city’s prestigious Berkeley University.
"Awareness and issues of gender identity are often particularly visible on college campuses, but it’s important that it doesn’t stay there," he said.
The state of California and the tech industries based there are have long been at the forefront of LGBTQ rights in the US.