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Women and Mothers Aren’t ‘Chestfeeders’

(Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

Midwives working for Britain’s National Health Service at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals in England are now to follow a “gender-inclusive language policy,” meaning that:

  • The maternity departments are now to be known as “perinatal services.”
  • The word “mother” is to be replaced with the phrase “mother or birthing parent.”
  • “Breastfeeding” is to be known as “chestfeeding” (a made-up word).
  • “Breastmilk” should be called “human milk” or “breast/chest milk” or “milk from the feeding mother or parent.”
  • The word “woman” should be replaced with the phrase “woman or person.”
  • Fathers should be referred to as the “parent,” “co-parent,” or “second biological parent.”

Note that less than 1 percent of adults in England identify as transgender, whereas 50 percent of the population is female. Yet to justify its policy, the Sussex maternity department explained that “we want everybody who uses our services to see themselves reflected in the language that we use. This means not only pregnant women, but also pregnant trans, non-binary and agender people. Our chosen approach to inclusive language is additive rather than neutral.”

Trans-skeptical feminists have long complained that this Orwellian word abuse amounts to the “erasure of women.” They are right to object to such policies on the grounds that they undermine the very existence of women as a distinct class with specific characteristics and needs. Yet, at the same time, and despite what transgender activists insist — language does not actually have the power to change reality.

Words merely reflect or distort facts. A woman is still a woman if you call her something else, be it a “non-binary person” or a “trans man.” And a mother is still a mother if you call her a “chestfeeder” or a “birthing parent.” The real danger, as Orwell put it, is that “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” So, though Newspeak cannot change reality, it can — through human beliefs and behaviors — influence it.

The hijacking of language is the same sinister strategy on which every totalitarian ideology is reliant. Nonsense terms such as “misgendering,” “cis-privilege,” “cisgender,” “dead naming,” etc., have only been around for ten years or so, and only in the mainstream for much less time, and yet have already been used with staggering effectiveness to confuse, intimidate, and deter people (including conservatives) from using biologically precise terminology in contexts where doing so matters greatly (e.g. in court or Congress).

It is of course shameful that deceitful language should be deployed by the political class, or so unthinkingly by those who know better. But it is beyond disturbing that it should make its way into publicly funded medicine.

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