CHICAGO (CBS) — United announced it would be the first U.S. airline offering non-binary gender options for booking flights.
Customers can choose from Mr., Ms., or Mx. when they make a reservation and in United’s MileagePlus customer profile.
The Chicago-based company said it has worked with the Human Rights Campaign and the Trevor Project for employee training initiatives, including how to instruct United employees about preferred pronouns.
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality “People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non-binary being one of the most common. None of these terms mean exactly the same thing, but all speak to an experience of gender that is not simply male or female.”
“United is excited to share with our customers, whether they identify along the binary of male or female or not, that we are taking the steps to exhibit our care for them while also providing additional employee training to make us even more welcoming for all customers and employees,” said Toby Enqvist, Chief Customer Officer for United.
LaSaia Wade is the executive director of Brave Space Alliance, a Chicago non-profit and the first trans-led and black-led LGBT center on the city’s South Side. She welcomed the company’s decision and said it’s an opportunity for a teaching moment.
“This will be a chance for people to say ‘What is that? Let me do some research on what that is,'” Wade said. “And it will bridge some gaps as well as making some spaces acceptable for people to be more comfortable. It’s fine not to have education around it, but respect people’s gender pronouns.”
Wade said her organization, along with AffinityCare and the Chicago Black Gay Men’s Caucus met with United Airlines twice last year to discuss issues related to the LGBTQ community.
“I’m excited to see United Airlines take the lead on this,” Wade said “It allows them to be more inclusive and it opens the door for more business for United, and hopefully other airlines and companies throughout the country will do the same.”
“At the Human Rights Campaign, we believe being acknowledged as the gender you identify with is part of treating everyone with dignity and respect,” said Beck Bailey, acting director of the Workplace Equality Program. “By providing non-binary gender selection for ticketing and the gender-inclusive honorific ‘Mx’ in user profiles, United Airlines is taking an important step forward for non-binary inclusion.”