England’s National Health Service has asked its doctors to stop referring to pregnant patients as ‘expectant mothers,’ out of respect to the transgender community. The Daily Mail called this an, “Astonishing warning,” which was issued to the British Medical Association’s 160,000 members. The message simply asked that doctors start to refer to individuals carrying a child as ‘pregnant people,’ instead of using gender-specific words like mother.
The change comes weeks after a Briton who is a pregnant trans male postponed gender reassignment surgery to have a child. Hayden Cross is legally male in England, and has had hormone treatment. His story has definitely played a role in the UK's new consideration of pregnancy langauge in the medical field.
Also On Z Living: 7 Of The All-Time Best Tips For Parenting Newborns
So, This Is Good, Right?
England’s NHS announced its change in a 14-page booklet entitled A Guide To Effective Communication: Inclusive Language In The Workplace. It says, “A large majority of people that have been pregnant or have given birth identify as women. However, there are some intersex men and trans men who may get pregnant.”
While this seems like a progressive step for the British medical community, this piece by the Daily Mail exposes tons of trepidation amongst Britons. One graphic is entitled, “Bizarre ban by British Medical Association.” It also quotes activist Laura Perrins saying, “As every doctor knows, only females can have children. To say otherwise is offensive and dangerous. This will offend women up and down the country, and is an example of the majority of women being insulted for a tiny minority of people.”
Also On Z Living: Why Katherine Heigl Gets “Freaked Out” About Postpartum Life
The Pros Of Change
Woah, Perrins! That argument completely overlooks meaningful cases like Cross's. It’s also difficult to tell what is so offensive about the alteration of a medical term. Doctors and health practitioners tend to work for all people, and this move to acknowledge those pregnant people who may not identify with the term “mother” shows that.
There’s nothing in the book saying that a woman who gives birth to a child can no longer be considered a mother. It simply presents a broader terminology, so that doctors can communicate with a broader community. The term ‘pregnant people’ is an expansion of the concept of being a parent, not a reduction.
This change acknowledges that there are more types of parents than two. Giving all individuals an outlet to interact with doctors and medical professionals in a safe, respectful place is an exciting step towards a non-binary culture, that offers its best resources to all, without holding any stake in their gender identity.
Happy and excited new parents, like the ones interacting with this medical community, are the focus of our show Birth Days. In this Z Living favorite, we chronicle the non-stop adventures of parents and newborns during their first six weeks together.