The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) caused a stir in August when they released COVID-19 vaccine guidance for “pregnant and recently pregnant people” rather than for pregnant women. Phrases like “pregnant people” and “birthing individuals” have been increasingly employed by the Biden administration with Biden’s June budget proposal replacing “mothers” with “birthing people.” Phrases like these that are perceived as more acceptable to transgender groups have also gained traction in newsrooms like CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. However, many women have been vocal in response to this language, arguing that it diminishes womanhood and hurts women.
The CDC did not respond to a question from the Register about their use of the term “pregnant people” in their August guidance, but in June, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Shalanda Young defended the use of the term “birthing individual” in the budget proposal saying, “there are certain people who do not have gender identities that apply to female and male, so we think our language needs to be more inclusive on how we deal with complex issues.”
The Rise in New Terminology
Some Democrats in Congress seem increasingly opposed to the use of the word “woman” and have been employing unique new phrases related to women’s reproductive functions. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., used the phrase “birthing people” on the House floor in May. And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., referred to a “menstruating person’s body” in a CNN interview in September, defending herself on Twitter after backlash by saying “trans men and non-binary people can also menstruate” and “some women also don’t menstruate for many reasons.”
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