The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) published new guidelines introducing “lactation-related language” such as “human milk feeding.”
The new guidelines were published to affirm the organization’s “commitment to gender equality and health equity,” including new terminology for “lactation-related” language. Terms for lactation include “chestfeeding” and “human milk-feeding individuals.”
“ABM recognizes that not all people who give birth and lactate identify as female and that some individuals identify as neither female nor male,” the guidelines read.
Laura Kair, the medical director of well newborn care at UC Davis Children’s Hospital said that this language is important in caring for transgender patients.
“Language has power. The language that we use should be as inclusive as possible when discussing infant feeding,” Kair said. “When working with patients it is best to ask them their affirmed terminology. When communicating medical research, language should accurately reflect the population studied so as not to mask research needs.”
Other guidelines ask doctors to use “desexed or gender-inclusive language” such as “lactating person” instead of “mother.” The word “humankind” is recommended over “mankind” as well.
Using “gender-neutral” terminology in medicine has become an increasingly more common phenomenon, particularly at esteemed medical schools. According to a report from Katie Herzog, published in Bari Weiss’s Substack publication, a University of California endocrinology professor was forced to apologize for implying that only women can give birth.
The professor used the gendered language of “pregnant women” instead of the preferred “pregnant people.”
“I don’t want you to think that I am in any way trying to imply anything, and if you can summon some generosity to forgive me, I would really appreciate it … Again, I’m very sorry for that. It was certainly not my intention to offend anyone,” the professor said. “The worst thing that I can do as a human being is be offensive … I said ‘when a woman is pregnant,’ which implies that only women can get pregnant and I most sincerely apologize to all of you.”
The idea of removing gendered language goes beyond just medical school as well. According to Campus Reform, a student at Marquette University was told that if he refused to use “gender-neutral” language he would have points deducted from his next philosophy paper.
Removing gendered language when it comes to giving birth has made its way to the top echelons of power in the United States as well. President Joe Biden’s $6 trillion budget proposal demanded $200 million for maternal health care while referring to mothers as “birthing people.” Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush (D) also referred to mothers as “birthing people” during a House of Representatives floor speech.
The National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) has been among the loudest organizations pushing for these progressive language changes. The group claims that the term “mother” was specifically gendered and that “it’s not just cis-gender women that can get pregnant and give birth.”
“When we talk about birthing people, we’re being inclusive. It’s that simple,” the pro-abortion group said. “We use gender-neutral language when talking about pregnancy because it’s not just cis-gender women that can get pregnant and give birth. Reproductive freedom is for *every* body.”