Midwives ordered to replace words 'mother,' 'breastfeeding' with 'trans-friendly' terms

Policy advises replacing 'father' with 'second biological parent'

A woman passes an NHS sign at The Royal London Hospital in London, Britain May 13, 2017.
A woman passes an NHS sign at The Royal London Hospital in London, Britain May 13, 2017. | REUTERS/Neil Hall

Transgender language is being instituted at two U.K. hospitals in the NHS healthcare system that now require midwives to cease using the words "breastfeeding," “breastmilk” and "father," and change how they refer to mothers all under the banner of inclusion.  

The word "mother" is being replaced with the term "mother or birthing parent."

As part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust's inclusive language policy to be more "trans-friendly," midwives are being told they must stop using gendered terms that denote the sex of the body and instead used "gender-inclusive" language, according to the UK Times.

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Henceforth, under the new policy, the "maternity services department" will be known as "perinatal services." Instead of using the word "breastmilk," the phrases "human milk," "breast/chestmilk" or "milk from the feeding mother or parent."

Additional adjustments in the hospital language policy include using “woman or person” in place of "woman." Depending on the circumstances, the word "father" is to be replaced with “parent,” “co-parent” or “second biological parent," The Telegraph reports. 

The document further instructs staff that they are not to cease using the word woman entirely but to use the word "people" more often.

The document released this week states: "Gender identity can be a source of oppression and health inequality. We are consciously using the words ‘women’ and ‘people’ together to make it clear that we are committed to working on addressing health inequalities for all those who use our services.

“As midwives and birth workers, we focus on improving access and health outcomes for marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Women are frequently disadvantaged in healthcare, as are trans and non-binary people … By continuing to use the term ‘woman’ we commit to working on addressing health inequalities for all who use our services."

In a statement released on Twitter Monday, the Sussex maternity department said: “We want everybody who uses our services to see themselves reflected in the language that we use. This means not only pregnant women, but also pregnant trans, non-binary and agender people. Our chosen approach to inclusive language is additive rather than neutral.”

According to The Telegraph, "Brighton and Hove NHS Trust has long championed itself as a 'leader for LGBT inclusion' after receiving a number of accolades from the controversial charity Stonewall."

The phenomenon of this kind of language has been appearing in elite environments in recent months. 

In a social media post promoting a panel discussion in December 2020, Harvard Medical School referred to women as “birthing people” to include individuals who identify as nonbinary or transgender. 

Harvard Medical School’s Postgraduate and Continuing Education tweet proclaimed that “Globally, ethnic minority pregnant and birthing people suffer worse outcomes and experiences during and after pregnancy and childbirth” as it promoted a panel about “Maternal Justice."

The tweet drew ire from many Twitter users who complained that it was misogynistic and dehumanizing.  

National Review writer Madeleine Kearns noted that some feminists have long regarded this kind of language as Orwellian, noting that it ultimately yields the "erasure" of women.

"Words merely reflect or distort facts. A woman is still a woman if you call her something else, be it a 'non-binary person' or a 'trans man.' And a mother is still a mother if you call her a 'chestfeeder' or a 'birthing parent,'" she wrote.

"The hijacking of language is the same sinister strategy on which every totalitarian ideology is reliant. Nonsense terms such as 'misgendering,' 'cis-privilege,' 'cisgender,' 'dead naming,' etc., have only been around for ten years or so, and only in the mainstream for much less time, and yet have already been used with staggering effectiveness to confuse, intimidate, and deter people (including conservatives) from using biologically precise terminology in contexts where doing so matters greatly (e.g. in court or Congress).

"It is of course shameful that deceitful language should be deployed by the political class, or so unthinkingly by those who know better. But it is beyond disturbing that it should make its way into publicly funded medicine," Kearns concluded.

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