A train company apologizes to a non-binary passenger, sparking a fiery debate on Twitter. After Lawrence Coles boarded the train, the conductor welcomed passengers with, “Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.”
So Coles wrote on Twitter, “’ Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…’ so as a non-binary person, this announcement doesn’t actually apply to me, so I won’t listen.”
In response, London North Eastern Railway apologized, saying, “I’m really sorry to see this, Laurence, our Train Managers should not be using language like this, and I thank you for bringing it to my attention. Please could you let me know which service you are on, and I will ensure they remain as inclusive as we strive to be at LNER.
“We’ve been working very hard with educating our people on why gender-specific pronouns are not suitable in instances like these, and we’re sorry to see this has not been applied here. It is entirely valid for someone who does not identify with the terms used to feel excluded, and as a business, we do not accept that anyone should feel excluded.” 
Train Company Apologizes For Saying “Ladies and Gentlemen”
As expected, Twitter users had a lot to say on the matter. Some sided with Coles, but others complained that the train company didn’t have to apologize for anything.
For instance, one user wrote, “‘Language like this?’ Please have a word with yourself. You need to apologize for your apology. Your ‘Train Manager’ epitomizes friendliness, reassurance, and care for customers with their choice of words. To take offense at them says a lot about the complainant. Retract please.” 
Additionally, another tweeted, “Strikes me that the manager was trying to make people (including children) feel welcome on that train. Far nicer than an anodyne automated message.”
Conservative MP for Workington, Mark Jenkinson, tweeted, “You’d be forgiven for thinking this Train Manager had unleashed a tirade of abuse. ‘should not be using language like this.’ He’d actually said, ‘Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.’ Identify however you like, but can we stop this nonsense?”
TalkRadio host Julia Hartley-Brewer commented: “Stop pandering to this nonsense. Your announcer said nothing wrong. No one was excluded or discriminated against. Just do your job of running trains on time and leave the woke politics to someone else with nothing better to do.“
One Twitter user brought up their unpleasant experiences with the train company, which they haven’t received an apology for. “I’ve never received such a groveling apology, despite as a disabled passenger, repeatedly being treated appallingly by rail services & neither has my daughter, who as a young woman, was left stranded alone in London last year, after her last train was canceled. Why is that?” 
Defending the Apology
However Twitter user Charley joined the conversation, revealing that they and Coles work at the station. Both are non-binary, and LNER openly supported the LGBTQ+ community. According to them, the train company was right to apologize.
“I was sat with Laurence when this tweet was sent,” Charley wrote, referring to Coles’ now-viral tweet. “Both of us are non-binary, and we were both alarmed and uncomfortable by the lack of inclusion. This comes from an operator that has made a *big* push on LGBTQ+ inclusivity, including prominent Trainbow campaigns.
“Before the tweet was sent, we had a discussion about what to tweet and why – and you’ll notice stopped short of identifying the service in any obvious manner. This is not at all inappropriate. We (that is, railway staff in general) have a duty of care to all of our passengers…
“Both Laurence and I were ourselves customers of the railway – being rail staff does not absolve an operator of the duty of care or responsibility to be inclusive. Raising awareness of issues *is* educating – we shouldn’t be having these conversations behind closed doors.”
Similarly, the train company responded to the critics who thought they shouldn’t apologize, saying, “We’re not bending over backward to accommodate any one person, we’re doing our best to accommodate every person. There’s the difference.”
- “Train company apologizes to non-binary passenger for ‘welcome ladies and gentlemen’ message.” Yahoo News. Ellen Manning. May 14, 2021
- “London Railway’s Apology to Queer Passenger for Greeting ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ Starts Row on Twitter.” News 18. May 15, 2021
- “LNER under fire after apologizing for ‘good morning boys and girls’ tannoy announcement.” My London. Reemul Balla. May 13, 2021
- “LNER apologizes after staff said ‘good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.” MSN. Katie Feehan. May 13, 2021