What’s This About?

This is about how Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) sells weekly and monthly transit passes. You walk up to the ticket window, drop your pants, wait for the salesperson to figure out what’s between your legs, and accept the pass emblazoned with the “Male” or “Female” sticker they assign you. Then, every time you ride the bus, train, subway, or trolley, you have to drop trou again and wait for the driver to match your pass to your genitalia.

Well, ok, so they don’t actually require the nudity part. Which is where things get complicated… Every person buying a weekly or monthly transit pass has to ask for either a “Male” or “Female” pass, and every time they ride, they have to show the pass and have their gender verified by a SEPTA employee. And because SEPTA employees don’t check between your legs (and because what’s between your legs and your gender can be a lot more complicated than that pink/blue game we play with newborn babies), SEPTA doesn’t always get its guessing game right. Then, you might have to pay an extra fare, have your pass confiscated (no refunds!), and/or be subject to harassment by SEPTA employees and riders.

This is about:

  • everyone’s right to ride public transportation, without being interrogated about their gender.
  • how if you paid for an expensive monthly or weekly transit pass, it shouldn’t be taken away from you because someone doesn’t think you look like a man or a woman.
  • everyone who’s ever been embarrassed to go to the ticket window and announce, “I need a monthly female pass, please.”
  • the woman who was sold a pass with a “M” sticker on it because she had short hair. She didn’t know the “M” meant “male”… until the next day, when a SEPTA employee tried to confiscate her pass (with no refund) because she was committing fraud.
  • the woman using a pass with an “F” whom a transit officer mistook for a man, who then physically harassed her and destroyed her $83 pass. The passenger never got a refund.
  • the transgender woman who was denied the right to use her pass marked with an “F” because the driver realized she was transgender and didn’t think she counted as female.
  • the woman who used a pass with an “F”, was questioned loudly by a transit worker about whether it was really her pass, and found herself surrounded by hostile riders who pushed her and called her names when she got off the train.

This is about a campaign to demand South Eastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) immediately discontinue the use of gender-marking stickers on their monthly and weekly transit passes. For all of the reasons above, and because transit authorities have no business checking what’s in our pants!