NHS doctors have been issued guidelines surrounding gender neutral terms that advises them to avoid calling pregnant patients “expectant mothers”.
The guidelines, which were issued to 156,000 members of the British Medical Association, seems a straight forward way to avoid causing offence and to “celebrate diversity”.
The advice came in a leaflet called A Guide to Effective Communication: Inclusive Language in the Workplace.
The introduction to the document states: “This guide promotes good practice through the use of language that shows respect for and sensitivity towards everyone. The choice of appropriate words makes an important contribution towards the celebration of diversity.
“As well as avoiding offence, it is about treating each other with dignity and as equal members of an integrated community.”
On pregnancy and maternity, it says: “Gender inequality is reflected in traditional ideas about the roles of women and men. Though they have shifted over time, the assumptions and stereotypes that underpin those ideas are often deeply-rooted.”
It adds: “A large majority of people that have been pregnant or have given birth identify as women. We can include intersex men and transmen who may get pregnant by saying ‘pregnant people’ instead of ‘expectant mothers’.”
Despite being a simple regulation to adhere too, the Daily Mail have taken a fierce stance against it calling the policy an “astonishing warning” and a “contentious call”.
The paper gave a platform for anti-feminist Conservative MP Philip Davies to call the policy “completely ridiculous”. He said that “if you can’t call a pregnant woman an expectant mother, then what is the world coming to?”
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‘Women’s campaigner’ Laura Perrins called the advice “anti-science, anti-women and anti-mother”.
“As every doctor knows only females can have children. To say otherwise is offensive and dangerous,” Perrins added. “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.”
Heather Ashton, of the transgender support group TG Pals, said: “We know that biological females are the pregnant ones but trans people are parents too, and this is massive step forward to prevent discrimination against them.
“The fact that the terminology is changing can only be a positive thing for everyone who wants to be a parent and has the right to be a parent,” Ashton added.
A BMA spokesman said: “This is a guide for BMA staff and representatives aimed at promoting an inclusive workplace at the BMA. It is not workplace guidance for doctors which is clear from the fact it does not refer to patients.”
The guidance was issued after the Department of Health confirmed that people should be situated on wards that correspond with their gender identity.
“Trans people should be accommodated according to their presentation: the way they dress, and the name and pronouns they currently use. This may not always accord with the physical sex appearance of the chest or genitalia,” the guidance said.
Senior executive Dr Anthea Mowat writes on the BMA website: “I would encourage you all to read and share this guide, and think about how you can apply it in your day-to-day work.
“This is a time where we need to come together to support and protect our colleagues and our patients.”