Portland Cuts Controversial Terms ‘Women’ and ‘Citizen’

The city of Portland issued guidance to its employees not to use several words it considered controversial, such as “woman” and “Caucasian.” The effort comes as the Oregon city struggles with ongoing crime and homelessness issues.

Portland’s Office of Equity and Human Rights recommended an Inclusive Writing Guide for use by employees. The style guide recommended that city employees change their wording to be more “culturally conscious.” 

This included avoiding common terms in exchange for using new terms. The city recommended not to use terms such as “women’s health rights,” instead replacing them with “reproductive rights.” 

The new terms ask employees to replace terms such as breastfeeding with “chest feeding.”

Furthermore, Portland recommended changing the term “pregnant women” to “pregnant people.” The style guide offered the preference for those who become pregnant “but do not identify as women.”

The effort recommended replacing the use of terms such as “he” and “she” with “they” and “them.” Furthermore, the guide recommended the capitalization of the term “Black as an adjective in a racial, ethnic or cultural sense” but not to capitalize the term ‘White.’ 

The justification was not to “capitalize when referring to one’s race.” 

The city’s recommended guide called “whiteness” a “social construct that serves to reinforce power structures” and recommended not using the term “Caucasian.”

Other terms recommended against use included “manhole” and “citizen.” The latter was considered “not inclusive.”

The Oregon city has seen a significant loss of population following a marked increase in crime. Portland has seen a sharp increase in shootings, which tripled between 2019 and 2022. 

Furthermore, the city faced a similar near-tripling of homicides, from 36 in 2019 to 101 in 2022. The 2022 figures represented the highest number of homicides in the city’s history.

The city enacted a ban on daytime camping in the city this month in an effort to reduce homelessness in the city.

Camping is now banned between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and in city parks or near schools. Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) said that the city would be “focused on education and outreach” regarding the new changes.