In a publicity stunt that I assumed could not go further in its transphobic and misogynistic race-to-the-bottom than it already had, Berlin’s public transport enterprise, BVG — has managed to dig itself even deeper.
For those who don’t have the context, be sure to read the original post on BVG‘s Women’s Tickets, where I go into how they have been punching down with transpobic advertising and miscommunicating the methods they use to perform ticket inspections for those tickets.
There were more ticket options?
Apparently, there were annual and monthly tickets at the same 21% discount for sale in a single vending machine at Alexanderplatz, while BVG‘s website for the Frauentickets specifically stated those were not going to be made available.
Those are savings for about 160 EUR annually and BVG deliberately tried their best to confuse and lie to their female customers.
And there was a camera to measure you up?
According to the tabloid BZ, the waiting lines took up to half an hour to clear through and once the Frauenticket is selected on the screen you’re greeted by a camera.
The purpose of that camera — as far as I can see and read — is to make sure you are of the correct binary gender phenotype to have one of those tickets, based on your external looks.
Because all women look the same?
My educated guess is that the system is probably based around an untrained person working via Amazon’s MTurk service on the other end — but please correct me if I’m wrong — and it will then reject a male-looking person and allow a female-enough-looking person to proceed.
No matter if this was done by a person or entirely using software, this is very misogynistic and irresponsible for a publicly-owned organisation.
Imagine the situation
Alexanderplatz is the hot-spot for sexual harassment in BVG‘s U-Bahn network. In no other place in the city of Berlin have I experienced as much groping, cat-calls or other forms of harassment — from both cisgender men and women.
The sort of unwanted attention that nobody seeks and BVG is complicit here.
Now imagine being a slightly masculine-looking woman — or a transgender woman — standing in line to that single ticket machine at Alexanderplatz. All eyes are on you because you stand out and the machine rejects you at the other end of the line because what is made to look like an automated system judged your gender based on your looks.
No ticket for you “mister”.
Both body dysphoria and gender dysphoria are terrible when they are prompted and nobody deserves that.
Complaints are futile
Nobody wants to get themselves into the humiliating circumstances described above and if BVG has not gotten official complaints about it, then it’s understandable — because nobody in their right mind would try to get themselves into this situation.
As for myself, after having been running on single and day-tickets for a while, I opted for a monthly ticket from Deutsche Bahn‘s mobile app last week, as the 21% discount is not worth the chance of harassment from BVG‘s infamous ticket inspectors, having fare avoidance tickets corrected — or let alone my potential reactions to a machine telling me I’m not eligible.
And I am not the only one. A recent Twitter poll — while biased and unscientific — showed that more than a third of eligible participants decided not to purchase a Frauenticket based on the fear of being misgendered.
Even if this targeted only a certain audience, it gives a hint on what the situation here is like.
Only pinkwashing and little actual action
BVG‘s plans to reduce the wage gap internally — while perhaps realistic — are puny and inadequate.
BVG, which is owned by the city and employs around 15,000 people, said it is pressing ahead with its target to increase female representation in its workforce from 20 percent to 27 percent by 2022.
This is surprisingly little progress for an employer that is desperately seeking B-licensed drivers for their buses and can’t keep the trams running.
But I guess it’s all okay as long as the marketing department can have fun and the company can send out press releases about them being woke and progressive?
I wonder if some of that marketing budget could have been diverted towards making BVG‘s stations and stops safer and more accessible. But what do I know?
BVG is still actively spreading their ignorance, misogyny and transphobia
Stand your ground or ignore others when you are confronted and you are not only complicit in hate and ignorance, but actively and willingly performing it and distributing it.
This is exactly what BVG‘s marketing wizards did when faced with comments on social media. Providing pre-written non-answers or half-answers and ignoring the rest seems to be the way to go here, as opposed to listening.
After this short and blunt response, BVG is still standing by its “fake woman” advertising and Facebook posts collecting “haha” responses.
They have not answered any questions about their methodologies or how they train their staff when it comes to the users of the Frauentickets.