The Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) claims the stickers are on the passes to prevent cisgender heterosexual couples from sharing them but the unintended consequence of that policy according to a group called Riders Against Gender Exclusion (RAGE) has been that transgender and other gender variant people have been harassed by SEPTA personnel.
RAGE has been protesting the policy since 2009 and according to their Thursday press release:
Riders whose gender expression does not match the sticker on their pass – for instance, transsexual men and women who are not living in one gender full-time, and genderqueer people who do not present themselves as distinctly male or female – have been harassed by drivers, outed as transgender to other riders putting their personal safety at risk, and have even had legitimate passes confiscated.
SEPTA General Manager Joe Casey is submitting a proposal to the Board of Directors to remove the gender stickers from the monthly TransPasses starting in late 2013.
The action would also require public hearings that would take place in Spring 2013. A report from a local Philadelphia television station claimed the SEPTA decision about the problematic gender stickers wasn't driven by RAGE activism around the issue
Thanks to RAGE lobbying around the issue with supportive Philadelphia City Council members, a resolution was passed spearheaded by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown calling on SEPTA to end the gender sticker policy.
“We thank SEPTA for doing the right thing,” said Max Ray. “New fare system delays may be unavoidable, but SEPTA realized that human rights can’t wait. I’m proud of the tremendous amount of work that the transgender community has put into this project and all we’ve accomplished during this campaign.”
This is a major win for the trans community in Philadelphia who will hopefully once the stickers are eliminated be able to ride public transit in the city in peace, safety and without being disrespected once the new gender sticker free passes are implemented.