Gender-neutral communication is fast becoming a part of our mainstream vernacular.
In 2019, 'they' was named Word of the Year by dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster as a nod to the rise in use of gender-neutral pronouns, while the American Dialect Society bestowed its Word of the Year honours the same year to '(my) pronouns.'
In 2020 we saw businesses around the world adopt more gender-neutrality as everything from fashion to parenting started to make the shift. And in 2021, universities and health bodies are at the forefront in creating more inclusive environments for their patients, students and customers who identify as transgender, non-binary or non-conforming.
WATCH: Elle Graham-Dixon on gendered language. Post continues after video.
In February 2021, Australian National University updated its Gender Institute Handbook to offer new words for 'mother' and 'father'.
Newscorp reports the handbook urges people wanting to refer to mums and dads to say 'gestational parent' instead of mother and 'non-birthing parent' instead of father when talking to colleagues and students.
"While many students will identify as 'mothers' or 'fathers', using these terms alone to describe parenthood excludes those who do not identify with gender-binaries," the book states.
"This non-gendered language is particularly important in clinical or abstract academic discussions of childbirth and parenthood, both to recognise the identities of students in the class, and to model inclusive behaviour for students entering clinical practice."
Also in February 2021, UK health officials have asked nurses at two hospitals to substitute the term 'breast milk' for 'chest milk' or 'human milk' in an effort to be more inclusive to trans and non-binary parents. 'Breastfeeding' will instead be referred to as 'chestfeeding'.
The gender inclusive phrases were introduced in prenatal units in Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals.
“Today we are launching the UK’s first clinical and language guidelines supporting trans and non-binary birthing people,” the hospital system tweeted. “We are proud to care for trans and non-binary people.”
Today we are launching the UK’s first clinical and language guidelines supporting trans and non-binary birthing people.— Brighton and Sussex Maternity (@BSUH_maternity) February 8, 2021
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