British hospitals have implemented a shift to gender-neutral language, including swapping “breastfeeding” for “chestfeeding” and “breastmilk” for “humanmilk.”
“Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust is the first in the country to formally implement a gender-inclusive language policy for its maternity services department, which will now be known as “perinatal services,” The Times notes.
Other changes include replacing woman” with “woman or person” and “father” with “parent”, “co-parent” or “second biological parent.”
A recently released policy document outlines the rationale behind the change:
“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 marginalised 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.”
“We also recognise that there is currently biological essentialism and transphobia present within elements of mainstream birth narratives and discourse. We strive to protect our trans and non-binary service users and healthcare professionals from additional persecution as a consequence of terminology changes, recognising the significant impact this can have on psychological and emotional wellbeing. Acknowledging the cultural context in which service development occurs is vital in making trans and non-binary lives safer,” the policy adds.