Expectant mothers. It’s a common, harmless-sounding phrase, but it’s becoming the centre of a worldwide controversy.
The British Medical Association has put out a leaflet for staff, warning them against using phrases that could cause offence. “Expectant mothers” is on the list.
“A large majority of people that have been pregnant or have given birth identify as women,” the leaflet reads. “We can include intersex men and transmen who may get pregnant by saying ‘pregnant people’ instead of ‘expectant mothers’.”
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The leaflet also advises that staff shouldn’t use the term “Christian name”, as not everyone is Christian, and they should avoid terms such “mankind” and “manpower”, because they’re masculine nouns. Instead of “biologically male or female”, they should say “assigned male or female”, and instead of “the elderly”, it should be “older people”.
People have attacked the policy on social media.
#ExpectantMother Women are the reason you exist. They aren't pregnant people. THEY ARE EXPECTANT MOTHERS," tweeted Coffee4dessert.
An online survey done by Metro found that more than 90 per cent of people thought doctors should continue using the phrase "expectant mothers".
So is this all just "political correctness gone mad"? Well, no.
Sally Goldner, executive director of Transgender Victoria, believes inclusive language does matter, "unequivocally". She says people should always be asked how they want to be referred to.
"If it's just writing up a document, 'expectant person' or 'person carrying' is reasonable," she adds.
"We're not just two lots of 3.7 billion people , we are 7.4 billion people, and we can't just throw some people under the bus. If we really respect people, rather than being nasty towards people, then we have to consider everyone."
Goldner has heard the "politically correct" accusation plenty of times.
"People say 'politically correct', and you say, 'Can you define "politically correct"?' and they just go, 'Uh, er, um.' It's become a nothing term, or an emotive nothing term, to be even more precise, and I just think it has to be called out for what it is."
She explains that if people feel like they're not getting inclusive service somewhere, they won't go back. They'll also find it harder to go to any services, which can have a serious impact.
"Their general health can decline because they just think, 'Oh God, am I going to have to be an unpaid educator again?'"
On the other hand, if people do feel like they're getting inclusive service, they feel safer and more encouraged.
"Turn it around, and it could be life-changing, or even life-saving, for some people."