A statement on inclusivity from the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has provoked outrage from some midwives on social media for using the term 'sex assigned at birth'
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Midwives have today denounced claims they ‘assign’ the sex of children at birth in the latest row on woke language in the NHS. 

The wording came from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in an ‘inclusivity’ statement.

Their document said: ‘We recognise maternity and gynaecological services will be accessed by women, gender diverse individuals and people whose gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth.’

But some midwives hit back at the colleges, arguing that they merely ‘observe’ the reality of a baby’s sex at birth — as opposed to deciding it themselves.

Jo Gould, a midwife in Sussex, said she was ‘ashamed’ of her representative body and that the statement was ‘nonsense’ and ‘offensive’.

‘When the RCM start using the language of gender ideology and not biological fact, how can the public have faith in you?,’ she said. 

‘It is offensive to your members, who do not “assign sex at birth”. 

‘I am a member and I am ashamed to be represented by the RCM when I read this absolute nonsense.’

A statement on inclusivity from the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has provoked outrage from some midwives on social media for using the term 'sex assigned at birth'

A statement on inclusivity from the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has provoked outrage from some midwives on social media for using the term ‘sex assigned at birth’

One midwife, Jo Gould from Sussex, said saying midwives 'assigned' the sex of babies at birth was 'offensive' to the profession

One midwife, Jo Gould from Sussex, said saying midwives ‘assigned’ the sex of babies at birth was ‘offensive’ to the profession 

Another midwife, Kate Yardley from Devon, said while she believed everyone accessing maternity services should be treated with dignity and respect the college's statement was 'disappointing'

Another midwife, Kate Yardley from Devon, said while she believed everyone accessing maternity services should be treated with dignity and respect the college’s statement was ‘disappointing’

Parents can learn the sex of their baby during the 20-week pregnancy scan, which is used to check the foetus's development (stock image)

Parents can learn the sex of their baby during the 20-week pregnancy scan, which is used to check the foetus’s development (stock image)

Sajid Javid promises to ‘REVERSE’ gender-neutral language from NHS advice after MailOnline revelations 

Sajid Javid has promised to reverse gender-neutral language in NHS advice after MailOnline revealed the term ‘women’ was being quietly erased by health chiefs.

Yesterday, this website exposed how ‘women’ and ‘woman’ had been scrubbed from online guidance about the menopause, which is unique to biological females.

MailOnline revealed last month that advice for womb cancer had been de-gendered, and terms like breastfeeding were being pulled from guidance for new mothers.

In a tweet last night referencing MailOnline’s menopause story, Mr Javid said ‘language matters’.

The Health Secretary added: ‘I have made clear that the word “woman” should not be removed from key women’s health pages. 

‘I have been assured that the changes highlighted below, as well as others, are being reversed.’

Health chiefs told MailOnline the decision to remove women from online guidance was to be ‘inclusive’, and had not been a mistake.

Experts have warned de-gendering medical advice could be dangerous for women by over-complicating vital health messaging.

Other experienced midwives also criticised the idea that they ‘assign’ a baby’s sex.

Lucy, who claims to be an ex-midwife in Scotland, said mothers and children would be put at risk by prioritising gender ‘ideology’ over biology.   

‘In all my 40 years as a midwife I never assigned a baby’s sex at birth,’ she said.

‘Placing ideology over biological fact will put woman and babies at risk.’

Another registered midwife, Kate Yardley from Devon, said that anyone accessing maternity services needed to be treated with dignity and respect.

But she added: ‘I am very disappointed to see both royal colleges stating that sex is “assigned” at birth when as health professionals, we know that sex is observed and recorded at birth.’

Another Twitter user who claimed to be a midwife of 23 years said: ‘I can assure you, I have never assigned a sex at birth, it is observed and immutable.’

Best-selling author and avowed feminist Milli Hill simply said: ‘Sex is not “assigned at birth”.’

The RCM is a union and professional organisation for midwives, with membership fees running up to £272.77 a year. 

‘Sex assigned at birth’ is a term used by the trans community and people with gender dysphoria to reference how they were labelled as being either a boy or a girl at birth.

This ‘assigned sex’ is often held in contrast to how a trans person or individual with gender dysphoria identifies later in life.

Parents can learn the sex of their baby during the 20-week pregnancy scan, which is used to check the foetus’s development.

However, the NHS adds this is not always 100 per cent accurate as it can sometimes be difficult to determine a baby’s sex if they are in a ‘awkward’ position. 

Some hospitals also have a policy of not telling parents the baby’s sex at this scan.

The RCM/RCOG statement also says they will ‘aim’ to not erase women from their communications.

Lucy, a retired midwife from Scotland, said in a career spanning 40 years she had never 'assigned' a baby their sex

Lucy, a retired midwife from Scotland, said in a career spanning 40 years she had never ‘assigned’ a baby their sex

Another midwife on Twitter, Murt Turt, also said she had never assigned a baby a sex

Another midwife on Twitter, Murt Turt, also said she had never assigned a baby a sex

‘In our language we will aim to add and not take away, taking into account the importance of preserving women-centred language as well as including language for those who do not identify as a woman,’ it says.

The RCM was forced to apologise in December after excluding the words ‘women’ and ‘mother’ in favour of ‘postnatal people’ in guidance for handling sleeping babies.

The now deleted document stated: ‘Postnatal people in hospital should have easy access to the call bell system, be shown how to use it and ensure it’s working – they should be provided with a bed-side cot for the baby to use while in hospital.’

This prompted backlash on social media, with several feminist commentators accusing the college of trying to ‘erase’ women.

There has been growing concern that the terms ‘women’ and ‘woman’ are being scrubbed from health communications.

Yesterday MailOnline revealed how the NHS had quietly erased mention of women from its online guidance about the menopause, which is unique to biological females.

This prompted Health Secretary Sajid Javid to promise last night to reverse gender-neutral language in the NHS. 

The latest maternity gender language controversy comes just two months after it was revealed that midwifery students at a Scottish university were taught biological men could get pregnant and trans men could give birth even if they have a penis.

MailOnline revealed the £9,000-a-year undergraduate course at Edinburgh Napier University included a woke module on caring for ‘birthing people’.

In a coursebook that has since been revised, trainee midwives were given detailed instructions on how to treat a male-to-female trans person during childbirth.

An RCM spokesperson told the MailOnline the term ‘sex assigned at birth’ was used correctly in the royal colleges’ joint statement.

‘The term ‘sex assigned at birth’ is the UK government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) legal terminology for the sex which is observed at birth and then recorded on the birth certificate (and then sometimes reassigned) used by the NHS and other health organisations.’ 

How NHS language is going woke 

There has been increasing concern about the rise of ‘woke’ language in the NHS, particularly in regard to women’s health issues. 

Experts have warned that de-gendering medical advice could be dangerous for women as it over-complicates vital health messaging.

Menopause

This month it was revealed the NHS’s online guidance about the menopause had the terms ‘women’ and ‘woman’ removed.

The webpage used to describe the condition as ‘when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally’.

But a new, gender-neutral description made in May, says: ‘Menopause is when your periods stop due to lower hormone levels’.

Justifying the change NHS Digital said they wanted language to be ‘inclusive and respectful’.

Trans ‘chestfeeding’

Earlier this month the NHS was criticised for failing to mention the word ‘breast’ in new advice for trans parents.

A page titled ‘chestfeeding if you’re trans or non-binary’ makes no mention of breasts and refers to breast reduction operations as ‘top surgery’.

Women’s cancers

Official NHS advice about ovarian, womb and cervix cancers quietly removed the word ‘women’ from their webpages earlier this year. 

The term was missing from the landing pages of three sections explaining cancers only found in biological women.

The changes were made late in 2021 and early 2022  but only came to light in May.

Hospitals asking men if they are pregnant 

In March it was revealed that men were being asked if they are or could be pregnant before given radiotherapy by some NHS trusts. 

Male cancer patients as well as those having X-rays and MRI scans were asked if they expecting a baby, because the word ‘female’ has been replaced by ‘individuals’ for medical procedures.

Student midwives 

In May this year it was revealed that midwifery students at Edinburgh Napier University were being taught biological men could get pregnant and trans men could give birth even if they have a penis.

In a coursebook that has since been revised, trainee midwives were given detailed instructions on how to treat a male-to-female trans person during childbirth. 

NHS told to use inclusive terms to avoid offending transgender people

Maternity services were told to use ‘inclusive’ terms like ‘chestfeeding’ so trans pregnant people aren’t offended by a Government-funded report. 

Produced by charity the LGBT Foundation other suggestions of language change was avoiding terms like ‘vaginal birth’, recommending ‘frontal’ or ‘lower birth’ instead.

The charity also says some trans and non-binary people would benefit from having a private space in hospitals to give birth, so that they are not made uncomfortable by seeing women. 

‘Human’ milk

In February last year Brighton and Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust unveiled ‘gender inclusive’ phrases it wanted its staff to use.

These included terms like ‘birthing parents’ and ‘human milk’ rather than ‘mothers’ and ‘breast milk’ to avoid offending transgender people.

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