The World Health Organization (WHO) is updating its gender mainstreaming manual to include new wording that states “sex is not limited to male or female.”
The new definition and other changes expand the first edition of the manual from 2011.
The organization said in a news release that its updates focus in part on “going beyond non-binary approaches to gender and health to recognize gender and sexual diversity, or the concepts that gender identity exists on a continuum and that sex is not limited to male or female.”
The updates to the manual, in partnership with the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health, are taking place during the summer and fall of 2022. Opportunities for feedback are offered during the review period.
The new guidance also plans to include “new gender, equity and human rights frameworks” that will feature various tools to support the revised concepts.
In a frequently asked questions handout related to the update, the WHO answered that the gender mainstreaming manual is being revised “in light of the new scientific evidence and conceptual advances on gender, health and development that should inform WHO leadership.”
The update also plans “to understand how gender intersects and interacts with different determinants and factors that affect health outcomes” and address “the unequal distribution of health outcomes across population groups due to effects of gender roles, norms and relations.”
The work is led by the WHO’s Gender, Equity and Human Rights team. The significance of the updates could have a widespread impact, as its work leads the organization’s actions to “mainstream gender, equity and human rights into programmes and workplans.”
Not all experts are in agreement that the updates are based on scientific progress.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Coventry University professor Jenny Gamble referred to the updates as a “dismissal of basic biology — and mistake.”
British Parliament member Penny Mordaunt also spoke out on the issue of gender last week in a controversial Twitter post.
“I am biologically a woman. If I have a hysterectomy or mastectomy, I am still a woman. And I am legally a woman. Some people born male and who have been through the gender recognition process are also legally female. That DOES NOT mean they are biological women, like me,” she wrote.
The debate over gender issues has continued to generate controversy both in the U.K. and the U.S. In the U.K., Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling has been ostracized by many over speaking out regarding transgender issues.
Utterly shameful. Add this to the tottering pile of evidence that people in education and academia who're supposed to have a duty of care towards the young have succumbed to an outbreak of quasi-religious fanaticism. The girl's crime? Saying 'sex exists.'https://t.co/r33RlN4Xtx
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) May 17, 2022
The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh has also addressed the gender discussion with his documentary “What is a Woman?” The film looks at responses from a variety of sources across the globe to shed light on the issue.
The controversy has also become a question for the church in the U.K. A Church of England bishop raised criticism last week for saying there is “no official definition” of a woman.