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Theaters Ban Phrase 'Ladies and Gentlemen' Under New 'Gender Neutral' Guidelines

Actors' union Equity bans gender-specific language that's 'offensive' to transgenders

 on 4th November 2019 @ 12.00pm
the actors  union is pushing for more  gender fluidity  in the theatre © press
The actors' union is pushing for more 'gender fluidity' in the theatre

The actors' union Equity has issued new guidelines that ban gender-specific language, such as the phrase "ladies and gentlemen," as it may be considered "offensive" to transgender and "gender-fluid" people.

Under the new "more inclusive" guidelines, performers must not receive "backhanded compliments," be described as "brave" by their colleagues, or be complimented on their "appearance or voice."

The gender-neutral policy was published last week and is aimed at people and venues working with LGBTQ performers and audiences.

Phrases such as "ladies and gentlemen" exclude people who do not "identify" as male or female, but rather as "non-binary," according to LGBTQ rights campaigners.

The actors' union hopes the new guidelines will create more "gender-fluidity" in the theater and open up more "gender-neutral" roles for performers.

In response, a spokeswoman for the British Royal Shakespeare Company said it will overhaul “all announcements, signage and the introduction of some gender-neutral facilities” and “strive to create environments which welcome and support trans people and people who identify their gender as fluid.”

tamsin greig stars as female butler malvolia in the national theatre s  gender fluid  production of twelfth night © press
Tamsin Greig stars as female butler Malvolia in the National Theatre's 'gender-fluid' production of Twelfth Night

Equity's guide advises against compliments on "appearance, clothing, voice, quality, identity or the performer being brave," the Sunday Times reports.

Following the publication of the guide, the British National Theatre pledged to phase out "ladies and gentlemen" and other "offensive" gender-specific language.

Meanwhile, Nica Burns, co-owner of Nimax Theatre, said: "Coming to the theater is a shared and communal experience in one single auditorium and we want to please our audience and give them a great evening.

"We wouldn't want anyone to feel offended or annoyed."

The guidelines follow on from a series of high-profile productions featuring gender-fluid interpretations in recent years.

the national youth theatre production of macbeth featured tutu wearing male witches © press
The National Youth Theatre production of Macbeth featured tutu-wearing male witches

In 2017, Tamsin Greig starred as butler Malvolia in the Royal National Theatre's production of Twelfth Night.

The show also featured the normally-male Feste character "transitioning" into a woman.

Last year, the National Youth Theatre production of Macbeth featured a female lead, married to a woman.

Two out of the three witches in the production were men - with one in a tutu.

Elsewhere, last month the Old Vic theater announced it had scrapped its male and female bathrooms and replaced them with "self-selection" facilities that can be used by both genders.

[RELATED] Netflix Adds Gender Fluid Character to Children's Cartoon 'She-Ra'

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