Optional NHS guidance for pregnant trans people is inclusive, fair and literally just common sense

Anti-trans panic has spread like wildfire across the internet after the Daily Mail dug up a year-old NHS trust policy allowing pregnant trans patients to choose how they refer to their own reproductive anatomy.

More than a year ago, in February 2021, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust released “the UK’s first clinical and language guidelines supporting trans and non-binary birthing people”.

The guidance explicitly states that the trust uses a “gender-additive approach”, meaning that staff will use “gender-neutral language alongside the language of womanhood”.

Today we are launching the UK’s first clinical and language guidelines supporting trans and non-binary birthing people.

Follow us as we post throughout the week.

Find out more on our webpage
https://t.co/EPaesy4RWN#transpregnancy #nonbinarypregnancy #genderinclusion pic.twitter.com/qgzhJ2e6On

— Brighton and Sussex Maternity (@BSUH_maternity) February 8, 2021

It even addresses the all-too-familiar “gender critical feminist” dogwhistle that women are being “erased” by the existence of trans folk.

“If we only use gender-neutral language, we risk marginalising or erasing the experience of some of the women and people who use our services,” the guidance explains.

“We understand the fear of erasure, however marginalising other groups because they are rare will not improve care for women. We believe in human rights-based care and we can add inclusive language to our current language without subtracting anyone.”

The NHS guidance provides a “My Language Preferences” insert, which allows pregnant trans and non-binary patients to list words they would like to use for parts of their own body, and notes that “some people may refer to their ‘chest’ and ‘chestfeeding‘ rather than their ‘breasts” and ‘breastfeeding’, or “may talk about their ‘front hole’ or ‘genital opening’ rather than ‘vagina’”.

Many may be thinking that the “policing of language” is exactly what so-called “gender critical feminists” claim they are fighting against. Funnily enough, it turns out that this is a one-way street, and trans people should definitely not be able to use the language they prefer to refer to their own bodies.

Although the Daily Mail noted that the use of gender-neutral language in perinatal care was optional and dependent on the individual patient, the newspaper opted for the headline: “Maternity madness! Midwives are urged to avoid using proper words for anatomy so trans patients won’t be upset.”

The usual suspects dutifully lined up to express their faux outrage, including Piers Morgan who tweeted “FFS” alongside an angry emoji.

Anti-trans Twitter users took the bait, and despaired at “how woke the world has got”, and cried that the Earth has become “a cesspit”.

Fortunately, some more rational voices chimed in.

One Twitter user wrote: “This guidance is specifically for trans patients only. I’m a trans man, and if I ever get pregnant I want to be treated with dignity. That may include asking my doctors to use different language for my anatomy for my comfort, and having an easier way to request that does no harm.”

The article makes clear that this guidance only applies for pregnant transgender and non-binary people, and gendered language will still be used for women who aren’t trans. What’s wrong with that? pic.twitter.com/zxe4akRikK

— Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar) April 18, 2022

Journalist Ash Sarkar pointed out to Morgan: “The article makes clear that this guidance only applies for pregnant transgender and non-binary people, and gendered language will still be used for women who aren’t trans. What’s wrong with that?”

Morgan did not respond.

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