Postmen replaced under gender-neutral makeover

The Judicial College has updated its guidance for judges that ensures defendants, victims and witnesses are handled fairly, offering advice on what is considered acceptable terminology when referring to someone. Echoing the steps taken in Scotland recently the guide advises that postmen replaced under gender-neutral makeover.

Amongst the advice given to judges is to refer to postmen as postal operatives, thereby not offending anyone in court. Other similar terms that the guide suggests discarding are air hostess, businessman and chairman. Instead these should be replaced by gender neutral terms such as flight attendant when referring to what has traditionally been referred to as an Air Hostess.

The guide also advises against using language that is considered patronising, terms such as lady or girl. Similarly those with disabilities should not be referred to as a blind person or wheelchair bound.

Revision of the 566 page document had become necessary as some of the terminology recommended had been pushed by hard-line activists and was not considered the norm. Furthermore concern had been raised about the ramifications for judges where terms are hotly contested.

Gender stereotypes

The previous update was more prescriptive in terms of how people’s gender should be referred to when addressing them, however much of this language has been removed from the latest version. The reference to trans and cisgender people has been removed with the guidance suggesting that all people should be referred to the manner in which they identify and wish to be called.

In releasing the update Policy Exchange had warned that tribunals had ruled against people allowing to self-identify their sexual orientation given the guidance provided to judges. That possibility has now been removed from the latest guidance.

With words like Postmen replaced under gender-neutral makeover for judges, there will no doubt be many on both sides of the argument who disagree with the changes. However what cannot be disputed is that recognising how the person would refer to themselves, is a positive thing.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at