Starting July 1, SEPTA will eliminate all gender identification stickers for transit and regional rail services throughout the Philadelphia region. The decision came after a successful three-year grassroots campaign was waged by RAGE (Riders Against Gender Exclusion) asking SEPTA to rethink the policy – which has been in effect since the 1980s – in light of the problems transgender and gender non-conforming passengers have faced.
SEPTA reported to RAGE last year that the gender IDs would be eliminated as SEPTA implemented new fare increases, which the organization says will pay for a new fare system. In a statement, RAGE founding member Max Ray explains, “Because of our collective efforts, SEPTA has agreed to overturn this discriminatory policy. This decision by SEPTA is so important to transgender riders who daily faced discrimination and risked their own safety just to ride the bus to where they need to go.”
The fare hikes, however, will impact weekly and monthly passes, as well as cash rides. Weekly passes will be raised from $22 to $24 and monthly passes will increase from $83 to $91. SEPTA reports that there will also be ride limits on the passes: 56 and 240, respectively.
Cash fares are also on the rise – going from $2 per ride to $2.25 for buses, subways and trolleys. The fare increase will jump to $2.50 with the implementation of a new smart card system in the middle part of next year, says SEPTA. Discounted fares will still be available by token ($1.80 each) so best buy those before July 1.
While the fare hikes will undoubtedly enrage some riders, Gloria Casarez, director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, calls the end to gender IDs a “giant achievement.” She says on Facebook today, “After the city sued and SEPTA challenged, they agreed that when the new fare card was implemented the sticker would be no more.” She says the victory was hard won by those from RAGE, as well as the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations.
“We hope that this victory can be a symbol for other trans people that we don’t have to wait for other people to change systems for us,” said Nico Amador, founding member of RAGE. “We have the power to organize and create the changes ourselves.”