Despite the switch to ‘inclusive’ definitions, there is not a single record of a patient using them
A third of England’s state-run maternity hospitals have adopted terms such as ‘birthing people’ or ‘pregnant people’, in addition to or in place of ‘mother’ or ‘pregnant woman’, according to the Daily Mail. Such de-gendered language is promoted by powerful and influential LGBTQ organizations.
The British newspaper submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the 124 NHS hospitals in England with maternity units, and found that 42 of them have adopted this language. Only 29 still exclusively use the words ‘women’ or ‘mother’ to talk about pregnancy, while 15 are considering giving their literature a woke makeover.
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals told the Mail that they combine gendered and woke terms in the phrase “women and birthing people,” in a bid to “be as inclusive and representative as possible.” However, they could not say whether a single one of their patients has ever identified as anything except a woman.
Liverpool Women’s Hospital told a similar story, saying that while it has transitioned to using the “more fully inclusive language of pregnant people,” it has never recorded a single transgender patient using its maternity services.
Other hospitals are avoiding the word ‘woman’ in creative ways, with Southampton hospitals speaking of pregnancy in the second person – using terms like ‘you’ and ‘your pregnancy’ to avoid ‘woman’ or ‘women’.
The NHS’ official guidelines are unclear. While the health service’s website uses female terms in most of its maternity literature, individual hospitals have issued complex rules on when and where to avoid them. The NHS has also published information describing breastfeeding as ‘chestfeeding’, and removed the word ‘women’ from its online advice on menopause and ovarian and cervical cancers.
As of earlier this year, NHS hospitals were asking male patients if they were pregnant before certain procedures, as policy dictated that this question be asked to all patients, “regardless of how you may identify your gender.”
The scrubbing of gendered language has been fiercely opposed by some feminists, who argue that transgender-inclusive language erodes what it means to be female. However, it is supported by some of the UK’s most influential LGBTQ organizations. Stonewall, which ranks Britain’s workplaces by their LGBTQ-friendliness, advises employers to use gender-neutral language, and specifically urges healthcare providers to offer female-only procedures to men.
Mermaids, an organization focused on transgender youth, has lobbied the British government to add gender-neutral language to a bill on maternity allowance for ‘mothers or expectant mothers’.
The use of these terms, used throughout the entirety of recorded history to describe people who can give birth, constitute “a deliberate exclusion of trans men and non-binary people who may get pregnant,” the organization said.
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