Transgender solution to the Boeing 737 MAX problem

How to handle the public relations challenge of operating a new two-pilot two-jet-engine airliner with a safety record far worse than that of a 50-year-old single-pilot piston-engine plane such as the Cessna 402 (when used in airline service)? United Airlines seems to have found a way. From a friend on Facebook:

I ❤️ #United #LGBTQ #nonbinary

(Over a link to “United Becomes First U.S. Airline To Offer Nonbinary Gender Booking Options”)

What did the database programmers at United accomplish?

The U.S. airline will offer multiple gender options for customers booking flights, including M (male), F (female), U (undisclosed) and X (unspecified). United added that the title “Mx.” also will be available for travellers to select.

The gender option chosen by the passenger must correspond “with what is indicated on their passports or identification” in order to satisfy the Transportation Security Administration, United said. Anyone regardless of identification can choose the title “Mx.”

For whom can this work as a practical option, then?

More and more states have added gender options on identification. Oregon, California, Arkansas and Washington state currently offer a third gender option on birth certificates, while Washington, D.C., offers a third gender option on driver’s licenses. Most recently, the New York City Council announced it will offer “X” as a gender category for people who don’t identify as female or male.

What about for international travel? The U.S. Department of State offers a helpful page for those transitioning from one officially recognized “sex” to another. On the other hand, it seems that male/female are the only options. From “Victory! State Department Cannot Rely on its Binary-Only Gender Policy to Deny Passport to Nonbinary Intersex Citizen”:

The State Department denied Dana’s passport application because Dana could not accurately choose either male or female on the passport application form, and the form does not provide any other gender marker designation.

This is the second time Zzyym has won against the U.S. State Department for denying them a passport. In November, 2016, the same district court found the State Department had violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act and ordered the department to reconsider its binary-only gender policy.

The State Department doubled-down on its discriminatory male-or-female-only policy to deny Zzyym a passport, leading to today’s ruling.

So the nonbinary traveler making a domestic connection before an international flight would need a reservation with two genders: X for the domestic leg to correspond to the driver’s license and M or F for the international leg to correspond to the passport.

Backing up a bit… if the airline’s record must correspond to the gender stated on the passenger’s ID, did United have any choice but to task its database programmers with this project? Wouldn’t every airline have to invest in updating its systems to the modern world of gender-on-a-spectrum if the governments issuing IDs are changing their policies? So the PR folks at United are possibly even more brilliant for getting positive press for an expensive IT project that they were forced into doing.


16 thoughts on “Transgender solution to the Boeing 737 MAX problem

  1. I predict that within 10 years this is going to be the law of the land, everywhere. It’s going to be huge. Every system in this country that references gender will have to be changed, at all levels of the private and public sector. Census forms, drivers licenses, hunting licenses, tax forms, surveys, job applications, medical records, billing and purchase forms, websites, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

    ALL the systems are going to have to change, or it will be discriminatory on its face. There are going to be a huge collection of opportunistic lawsuits, also. Some small town didn’t throw out all of its old census forms, mailed them out and then subjected 10 of its residents to the trauma of receiving a binary-gendered form? That’s going to be grounds for a lawsuit. We’re going to spend a tremendous amount of money changing all the systems and reprinting all the forms, not to mention textbooks and course materials, and every form instructional materials that are used.

  2. And yes, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are eventually going to disappear or change their names. It may not happen as a result of legislative fiat or through a lawsuit but the external pressure to do it will be enormous and there aren’t any organizations in this country that want the trouble. Certainly public schools will stop allowing Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to conduct any kind of business at all on their grounds. There are going to be tremendous fights over the language used in the bylaws and governing documents of private and public organizations. I expect very serious and expensive lawsuits to be filed, targeted to selectively destroy organizations on a nationwide scale. I was actually talking about this today with a friend who is setting up a Boy Scout event locally. I said to him: “How much longer do you think the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will be allowed to even mention their name at a public school in Massachusetts?

    And the YMCA and YWCA are going to face similar pressures and problems. I think they’re going to drop the “MCA” and “WCA” completely. It will just be “the Y”. And for the most part it already is. Their branding is already going in that direction and has for many years now. They had their last complete rebranding done in the 2000s and if you look at their logos, you immediately notice that the “YMCA” acronym was reduced to a tiny, vestigial scribble at the base of the “Y”. Soon the MC and the WC are going to vanish, and they’re not going to call it the “YA.”

  3. I identify my gender as “passenger who is always given free upgrades to 1st class”. Why won’t United Airlines accommodate me too?!

  4. One final, dismal thought: Every quarter we receive a printed copy of a relatively elite (although not Ivy League) University’s magazine at our home. Inside, there are a small bunch of advertisers offering various products and services (real estate, tourism, private schools and banking and investment services seem to dominate). One of the private school ads this month shows two boys and two girls walking down a sidewalk on a beautiful campus; I estimate the kids to be around 12 years old. The boys are wearing slacks and the girls are wearing skirts, and one of the boys has brown skin. Everybody’s smiling and laughing.

    I saw that ad. and thought: “I wonder if they realize that’s all going away?” I’ll bet that by 2030 (maybe sooner!) this particular University will have an alumni revolution (grassroots, of course – as all elite university revolutions are these days) that forces their magazine to reject the ad. and others like it because it perpetuates traumatic, structural cis-gender stereotypes that must not be allowed in the alumni magazine. In fact, I’m surprised it already hasn’t been banned, I was shocked to see it.

  5. How would it work while entering countries that require and are going to require the foreseeable future only 2 genders in visa applications, which are many and some of them are quite rich?

  6. There is a very simple solution to avoid all that madness: just don’t ask for the gender. Why does it matter whether you’re male, female or whatever? Why do you need Mr/Mrs/Mrx (and how do you pronounce Mrx?).
    It’s not needed to identify a person. Name and birthdate should be sufficient, or alternatively a passport number.

    • That is indeed a very simple solution but the State Department was not about to remove the gender identification requirement from its passports. Instead it was absolutely go to court so that there would be a District Court judgment ordering them to expand their gender options. Simply eliminating the question would be totally counterproductive to the goal. Lambda Legal Defense brought this second case against the State Department representing Zzyym for the very important reason that the State Department would LOSE. Think about it for a little while.

    • Another simple solution is to drop the shackles of the US citizenship!
      For those who dont’t want to be a citizen of The Fascist USA(TM), no pressure: if you are a registered Democrat, we will gladly exchange you for a hundred hungry Venezuelans who would’t think of that either.

  7. (The author of the above Facebook post is a cisgender woman [removed by Philip]

    What is “the issue” here. Is this woman responsible for everything that happens in her town?

    Also, I think that your premise is incorrect. Is there any evidence that the airline is suffering any PR problems due to operating that model of 737?

    • You turned out to be prescient, Vince! Someone in our suburb actually read the original post and, since they already hate me due to my suggestion that they spend $110 million on improved academics rather than a new building (see ), I have removed the personal description.

      The focus should really be on the PR genius of United.

    • Unrelated but SAT scores in MA elite public school districts are low! SAT scores are higher in my local blue color and diverse exurb/rural school district. What gives? Genetic theory of intelligence has been finally proved wrong by constructing opposite example? Or educated parents send their children to public schools? Or opioid epidemics? They same my state suffers from it as well. In my area people never heard about private school tutoring.

  8. Can I identify as a female for the duration of the punitive molestation following an opt-out of being irradiated by the TSA?

  9. James Shupe used to be Jamie Schupe. He was the plaintiff in Oregon whose 2016 case set the legal precedent that a non-binary third gender must be legally recognized.

    He has recently come to denounce the foolishness of the transgender movement. He says it preys on children and the mentally ill and is evil. He now identifies as a man and is thankful he never fully mutilated himself.

    The pendulum swings one way, and right after it reaches its apogee in one direction, it swings the other way.

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