Transpass protest: Gender's a sticky issue
"What's in your pants? SEPTA wants to know." This sign - complete with a drawing of a pair of undies - was just one slogan at the 15th Street SEPTA station yesterday as a transgender-rights group protested SEPTA's refusal to remove gender stickers from its TransPasses.
"What's in your pants? SEPTA wants to know."
This sign - complete with a drawing of a pair of undies - was just one slogan at the 15th Street SEPTA station yesterday as a transgender-rights group protested SEPTA's refusal to remove gender stickers from its TransPasses.
Riders Against Gender Exclusion or RAGE, which staged the protest of about 40 people, also organized a mini-drag show, spoken poetry and speeches during rush hour in the crowded station.
SEPTA has used stickers labeled M for male and F for female since TransPasses were first issued in the early 1980s, according to SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams. The stickers are meant to prevent multiple people from using the same pass.
But RAGE says the use of these stickers - the only such stickers on public transit in a major U.S. city - is unfair when a person's gender doesn't match what it's generally perceived to be, said RAGE member Max Ray. And when a driver calls someone out about their gender sticker, they "do it in a public way that then gets everyone else on the bus looking at you," Ray said. That can incite violence from other riders, he added.
In October, the transit agency said a planned fare system will not contain any form of gender identification.
According to Williams, the new system will likely have a set amount of money on each card like New York City MetroCards, rather than an unlimited-ride pass like SEPTA's TransPasses.
But due to funding issues, it's unclear when SEPTA will begin implementation of a new system, she added. In the meantime, SEPTA has no plans to remove the stickers from the current passes.
RAGE members also objected to what Ray called SEPTA's "empty promises" to set up a separate, rider-friendly complaint system for transgender passengers.
Williams said that the transit agency did assign a government-affairs coordinator to the issue but that the coordinator has not received any complaints. She said that SEPTA customer service has received three overall complaints on the issue since October.
RAGE launched its own complaint hotline yesterday, 267-21- SEPTA. Ray said the group would pass on any complaints it gets to SEPTA.