For the first time in decades, SEPTA TransPasses and TrailPasses will lack a controversial element: those "M" and "F" stickers identifying the gender of the person who bought them.
Much attention has been given to the transit agency's fare increase that begins July 1 — which includes the first increase to the system's base fare (from $2 to $2.25) in 12 years.
But along with the across the board hike, SEPTA is also consolidating Regional Rail zones and eliminating those gender-identifying stickers in the agency's most recent preparation for its massive New Payment Technology overhaul. A SEPTA spokeswoman said Thursday that any weekly or monthly passes currently being sold no longer have the stickers.
"As part of the effort to simplify fares and introduce an 'open' fare payment and collection system under the New Payment Technology (NPT) program, extra-fare zone charges will be eliminated on dozens of transit routes, and there will be some consolidation of zones on Regional Rail," SEPTA said in a statement released Thursday. "In addition, gender stickers will be eliminated on all passes for transit and Regional Rail."
That last part may seem like a small tidbit in the grand scheme of an incredibly expensive, multi-year fare technology improvement that is touted to eventually include a "contactless" payment method.
But the elimination of those little, yellow stickers was a hard-fought battle for a local group called Philly Rage, a group that formed in 2009 and has the slogan: "Keep Transit Officials Out of Your Pants."
The group objected to the gender stickers disenfranchised some people in the LGBT community.
"One of the first people to take a public stand on the issue was Charlene Arcila, a local trans woman and community advocate. In 2007, after trying to board a bus and being told she couldn't use the transpass she had purchased because of her gender, Charlene worked with Equality Advocates to file a formal complaint with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations," RAGE says on its website of the beginning of the three-year campaign.
By early 2012, SEPTA decided to eliminate the stickers.
The stickers began as a policy in the 1980s to stop couples from sharing their passes, SEPTA officials have said.
"We thank SEPTA for doing the right thing," RAGE co-founder Max Ray said in April last year. "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."