New York wants taxi drivers to be aware of pronouns, how to use them

The New York City agency that regulates taxi drivers and for-hire vehicles on Wednesday sent out a guide on pronouns and how to use them, in an effort to help drivers be aware of the diverse passengers they may pick up on a daily basis.

“Inclusive Language Tips” went out to more than 100,000 licensed drivers over email. It encouraged drivers to introduce their pronouns, noted the use of someone’s “preferred pronoun” and told drivers to be aware that using “it” or “he-she” are offensive to the LGBTQ community.

The commission regularly sends out tips and guides to its drivers, according to Allan Fromberg, NYC’s Taxi and Limousine Commission spokesperson. In recent weeks, the commission has also sent out tips on service animals and wheelchairs accessibility, Fromberg said.

“The ‘Inclusive Language Tips’ email was not announcing a new policy or a rule — it was just a few informal, helpful tips about communicating with passengers,” Fromberg told CNN. “Just information to share — nothing deeper than that. I can’t imagine a message of respect would be a bad thing.”

Using the pronouns that a person goes by is a way of respecting that person’s gender identity — or a person’s emotional and psychological sense of their own gender, said Shige Sakurai, the founder of International Pronouns Day and the associate director of the LGBT Equity Center at the University of Maryland, College Park.

“If someone tells you that they go by the pronouns ‘they/them,’ for example, and you continue to refer to them using ‘he/him/his’ pronouns, it can imply that you believe that transgender, non-binary or intersex people are unimportant, or shouldn’t exist,” Sakurai told CNN in October.

Wednesday’s email came from the commission’s Office of Inclusion, which was created in 2018 as part of a new city effort to confront service refusals by taxi and for-hire vehicles.

The office is working to implement anti-discrimination training for drivers and is encouraging passengers to file complaints with the commission when denied service. The office is also tasked with prosecuting service refusal complaints provided by the public.

CNN’s Harmeet Kaur contributed to this story.