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Emailing a medical website re: "pregnant people"

(56 Posts)
Bezalelle Wed 14-Aug-19 08:53:30

I'm TTC at the moment, and if there's anything that brings female biology into sharp, glittering focus, it's that.

I've been reading a lot online, and came across an article on a medical website about conception and pregnancy, which referred throughout to "people" instead of women. I decided to leave a comment:

Is there any reason why the author of this article has neglected to use the crucial word "woman", instead referring to "people" or "person"? As far as I'm aware, it is only women who can ovulate and become pregnant.

A few weeks later, I had a reply from the website's editor:

The reason we use people/person is because some people who are pregnant do not identify as a woman, they may identify as being gender-fluid, non-binary, or another label entirely, therefore we deem this to be more inclusive language.

To which I reply:

*Thanks for getting back to me.

The problem with your explanation is that such terminology is not, in fact, inclusive. It negates biological reality. Only an individual of the female sex can become pregnant, no matter how they "identify".

Obfuscating language like this quite frankly makes a mockery of the medical profession. It may be seen as "woke" and politically correct, but the vast majority of women see it as offensive and unnecessary.*

To which he replies:

*Thanks for your reply, I will certainly pass on your feedback.

I really disagree that it "makes a mockery of the medical profession". Our content is geared toward humans of all walks of life, and this piece is a well-researched, well-sourced, and easily accessible read. We're writing on a forum that reaches all types of people from all walks of life, and as times change, language also evolves.

I would also dispute your claim that "the vast majority of women see it as offensive and unnecessary". While also anecdotal, our office is more than 70% female, including our Managing Editor and the Copy Edit & Production Manager who oversees our style guidelines regarding language, and not one person had any issue with this change when it was made.*

hmm My response:

*Thanks again for your reply.

I'd just like to point out that elsewhere on your site you seem to have no issue with differentiating male and female. With just a brief glance, I can see articles about men's health and women's health. I therefore wonder why it is difficult for you to write about women when discussing possibly the most female-centric condition - pregnancy.*

No reply.

It might not be ethical to reproduce his emails verbatim here, but I don't care anymore. I plan to challenge this sort of thing more and more when I see it.

ArnoldWhatshisknickers Wed 14-Aug-19 09:07:33

If I were you I'd concentrate less on the choice of language being offensive (which it is) and more on it being exclusionary.

Such postmodernist drivel may be understood by the university educated upper and middle classes but is confusing to vulnerable people.

I would suggest they need their website to use language that is inclusive of learning disabled women, women who have literacy problems, women for whom English is not their first language including refugees.

They are being exclusive and that is the point I would personally stress.

Bezalelle Wed 14-Aug-19 09:13:09

True. If matey replies I will raise that.

truthisarevolutionaryact Wed 14-Aug-19 09:38:57

Well done Bezalelle
Keep calling this out. And as you spotted - these fools never have any problem in talking about men's health issues.

NotBadConsidering Wed 14-Aug-19 09:41:18

What’s the medical website? I’ll bet a squillion pounds their section on prostate health/cancer etc doesn’t say “people with prostates”.

OhHolyJesus Wed 14-Aug-19 09:41:53

This sort of stuff really lifts me. We have to keep calling out this BS and keep pushing and pushing. Well done OP. Women will not be erased.

WhereAreWeNow Wed 14-Aug-19 09:46:36

Well done OP. This "pregnant people" stuff drives me nuts. Really important to call these people out.

whatwouldbigfatfannydo Wed 14-Aug-19 09:48:10

Yes! Thank you for this! We won't be ignored any longer angry

gamesanddaisychains Wed 14-Aug-19 09:48:35

Well done Bezalelle this kind of language is offensive and we do need to address it wherever we see it. Luckily my OH agrees, it is ridiculous.

Joisanofthedales Wed 14-Aug-19 09:51:36

flowers Brava

Sicario Wed 14-Aug-19 10:10:12

I'm just heading out of the door for a mammogram. The appointment letter says, "The mammogram is taken by female staff and only takes a few minutes".

I can't help but think about that female-identifying-male-nurse smear test story...

Bezalelle Wed 14-Aug-19 10:15:37

Thanks, comrades!

@NotBadConsidering, it's the website of Medical News Today. I was wary of naming them, but fuck it.

I've just checked them out on a website that analyses media bias, and found this:

Overall, we rate Medical News Today Pro-Science and High for factual reporting as most of their information is well sourced and based on traditional medicine. We recommend caution and further research on any articles related to alternative medicine, which is considered a pseudoscience.

And genderism isn't??

And, as a lot of PP have said, this bastion of scientific excellence has no issue making the following statements:

*The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.*

DejaVulva Wed 14-Aug-19 10:20:30

That editor said: While also anecdotal, our office is more than 70% female, including our Managing Editor and the Copy Edit & Production Manager who oversees our style guidelines regarding language, and not one person had any issue with this change when it was made.

Well, of course they wouldn't raise any objection .. they dare not for fear of any reprisal.

Dearie me, what an idiot is that man!

Imnobody4 Wed 14-Aug-19 10:25:58

When I had my mammogram invite I rang and asked if by female they meant a natal female. When the penny dropped she said yes they don't have anyone who doesn't meet that definition.
I think we have to check so they know it's an issue.
As for that 'times change' remark OP got. That was the line my MP took i.e. you're so old-fashioned.

Juells Wed 14-Aug-19 10:26:20

I would also dispute your claim that "the vast majority of women see it as offensive and unnecessary". While also anecdotal, our office is more than 70% female, including our Managing Editor and the Copy Edit & Production Manager who oversees our style guidelines regarding language, and not one person had any issue with this change when it was made.

I suspect that this is true, and rapidly becoming reality for most women. A friend, who was GC, recently had a conversation with a (female) teenager who said that her peers wouldn't be the least bit phased by sharing toilets with TW, and that older women were just afraid of change. confused

My friend was very impressed by the 'afraid of change' argument. I tried to point out that young girls have no idea about how vulnerable their sex makes them as they get older, have children etc., but as she doesn't have children it didn't have much effect on her.

ArnoldWhatshisknickers Wed 14-Aug-19 10:30:34

Times may change but human beings still can't change sex and vulnerable people still need plain English in order to access services.

Only the most pampered and privileged in society can't see this.

AleFailTrail Wed 14-Aug-19 10:32:51

So they’re only aiming it as people who identify as human? That’s racist/speciesist. What if I feel like identifying as an elf, or a hobbit, or a fairy or something. Then am I excluded??

(Sarcasm obviously, but I have used that one before IRL to debate with a self ID fan.)

Juells Wed 14-Aug-19 10:35:11

Only the most pampered and privileged in society can't see this.

That's it, exactly! It's like there's an expectation that everyone is smart, middle class, well educated, able to talk up for themselves.

Bezalelle Wed 14-Aug-19 10:35:48

vulnerable people still need plain English in order to access services.

I really wish I'd made this point in my emails, looking back. I'll add it to my arsenal for future correspondence of this nature.

ArnoldWhatshisknickers Wed 14-Aug-19 10:39:00

The 'young people accept it' argument is risible anyway. We know young girls are avoiding using toilets at school because mixed sex toilets have been introduced.

We know young women in the US are taking schools and sports authorities to court over allowing XY trans people into their spaces and competitions.

It just isn't true that young people are all happily dancing the trans privilege activist tune. In fact in real life all the young people I know think it's a steaming pile of shite, but then I live in a resolutely unwoke (formerly known as working class) area.

ArnoldWhatshisknickers Wed 14-Aug-19 10:45:03


I have a particular bee in my bonnet about the impact on the most vulnerable because I work with an entire cross section of the public day in day out.

I am horrified at the thought of an elderly woman with dementia finding herself in a hospital bed next to a male who identifies as a woman.

Or the impact on a young woman with Down's Syndrome of my acquaintance whose great pleasure in life is being able to travel two bus stops to my facility on her own if her parents can't trust there won't be any men in the toilets.

Trans privilege activists never stop to think about actual vulnerable people. I doubt they know they even exist.

Needmoresleep Wed 14-Aug-19 11:00:01

Brilliant. Well done OP.

I think young women are much more aware of personal safety than we were, and they are right to be.

DD tells me that she drowns her drink in one rather than risk it being spiked. (Drink spiking is a BIG issue.) She also has strong antennae for "creeps" essentially males bodied people who don't understand women's boundaries. So Jimmy Savile or Jessica Yaniv would set her creep alerts off. But so might some more attention seeking transwomen. She does her best to avoid people who she feels are not safe and certainly would not enter a changing room or toilet if they were there. And some of that will be to with passing.

So like sport it is not to do with trans per se, but whether someone feels their personal safety is compromised.

Interestingly she has described two boys at her University who fit the 'creep' definition. Ine is not popular, full stop, and other boys will step in to protect girls. The second is very popular, just doesn't understand boundaries. By and large girls get it (he has overstepped the mark more than once) but the boys dont.

Bezalelle Wed 14-Aug-19 11:37:16

Arnold, thinking about the impact on your acquaintance with Down Syndrome actually makes me want to cry.

We must continue to fight this at every turn.

Updog Wed 14-Aug-19 13:22:40

I don’t understand how this is a safety issue. What does it have to do with having drinks spiked? Or with Jimmy Saville?

There seems to be a consensus that trans women pose some sort of threat to other women? Do trans women (or other people who identify as women yet do not fit your idea of what a woman should be) have a tendency to assault or rape other women? Where are you getting this information? Is a woman more likely to get assaulted by a trans woman than by a man?

And I don’t understand the argument re vulnerable people. Do you seriously think that a clinic with a sign outside welcoming “pregnant people” rather than “pregnant women“ is actually excluding anyone? Whom among us doesn’t identify as a “person”?

This is literal transphobia, reminiscent of mid-20th century attitudes to homosexuality, where gay men and women were considered to have a “mental disorder” and were treated as such. Except now it is trans people being labelled as “dangerous” people who we must “fight at every turn” (you can’t be serious???).

And the “I don't have a problem with trans people per se...” argument doesn’t wash. If you have a problem with their integration into society, their use of basic medical facilities, their use of the fucking toilet, then you have a problem with them, don’t you?

ArnoldWhatshisknickers Wed 14-Aug-19 13:34:04

XY trans people commit crimes at the same rate as other men, violent crimes at the same rate as other men, sexual crimes at the same rate as other men.

They are not women. They pose exactly the same risk to women as other XY people.

Vulnerable women do not, and never will, recognise the difference between XY trans people and men because there isn't one. They will not understand why, when they have always been told by carers to tell someone if a man is in their toilets or changing rooms that simple rule no longer applies. Their carers will simply end up removing their little bit of independence from them.

And language matters to vulnerable people because it isn't about 'identifying as a person'. It is about directing women to information pertinent to women. Women don't always know they have cervixes, or uteruses, or that their period is 'menstruating' because some women struggle with basic literacy. Some women do not speak English as a first language. Some women have learning disabilities that render them very vulnerable. Those women still need woman specific healthcare. They need the word woman so they know what applies to them.

You don't have to give a shit about vulnerable people if you don't wish to, it's a free country, but you don't get to pretend not giving a shit makes you a better person than those of us who do.

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