The standing pregnant train passenger poses a dilemma for politeness: Do you offer up your seat so she can sit down, or mind your own business in case she isn't pregnant and would be mortified that you assumed she was?
Photo by Nicolas Michaud.
In New York City, the MTA is now offering "Baby on Board" buttons that you can wear if you're pregnant and want others to know you'd appreciate a chance to get off your feet. There is also a neutral "Please offer me a seat" button for folks who are elderly, disabled or otherwise have a hard time standing on public transit and would like to be able to sit down. Americans can request a button here. No doctor's note needed: This is on the honour system.
Some people are calling for a similar system to be implemented in Australia. So my question is: Would you wear one? If people notice and offer you a seat, great. But strangers already treat women's pregnant bodies as public property sometimes, and I wonder if a "baby on board" button would lead to more unwanted interactions.
And then what if somebody thinks you're faking? If you're in your first trimester and not showing yet but you're feeling super nauseous, you may well want to sit down on the train. If you're plus sized, your bump may not be obvious. Will people ignore you while you stare daggers? Will they challenge you to prove you're pregnant, like a man did in London a few years ago? Will people with invisible disabilities face similar issues with the "Please offer me a seat" button?
Seems like a minefield to me. And yet, I had a hard time standing and walking at the end of my pregnancies, and probably would have chosen to wear a button. I think. Maybe. How about you?