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Government maternity bill uses 'person' and not 'woman'

Now it’s ‘pregnant people’! Government’s new maternity bill for ministers uses ‘person’ and not ‘woman’ to refer to expectant mothers after Brighton hospital tells midwives to say ‘chestfeeding’

  • Suella Braverman is expecting her second child at the beginning of next month
  • She is the inspiration behind the Ministerial and Other Maternity Allowances Bill 
  • Drafts of the bill are referring to ‘pregnant people’ rather than mothers or women

A row has erupted in Westminster today over a special maternity bill referring to ‘pregnant people’ rather than women. 

The Ministerial and other Maternity Allowances Bill is being rushed through to allow the Government’s top legal officer to take maternity leave rather than quit her post.

Attorney General Suella Braverman is expecting a baby within weeks – but under current rules she would have to resign in order to get paid time off work after the birth.

But Ministers are at loggerheads after it emerged drafts refer to ‘the pregnant person’.

This comes after a hospital told staff to use terms like ‘birthing parents’ and ‘human milk’ rather than just referring to ‘mothers’ and ‘breast milk’ so transgender people are not offended. 

Suella Braverman, 40, who is expecting her second child at the beginning of next month, is the inspiration behind the Ministerial and Other Maternity Allowances Bill, which seeks to update the treatment of pregnant Cabinet ministers

Ministers are at loggerheads after it emerged drafts refer to ‘the pregnant person’

The Bill has been drafted and will be fast-tracked through the Commons to give the Attorney General six months’ leave on full pay under the new title ‘Minister on Leave’.

The law will also benefit future Cabinet ministers as well as senior Opposition politicians, and the bill is set to be debated by MPs tomorrow. 

But backbenchers and MPs are understood to be unhappy with the current wording and want it amended. 

The bill states: ‘A person designated as a Minister on Leave under this section is to be paid an allowance in accordance with section 2.

‘The person is pregnant and it is no more than 12 weeks before the expected week of childbirth. 

‘The person has given birth to a child within the previous four weeks.’ 

A government source told BBC Newsnight Political Editor Nicholas Watt: ‘We will have to amend this. I don’t see how we can get it through with the current wording.’

The Bill has been drafted and will be fast-tracked through the Commons to give the Attorney General six months’ leave on full pay under the new title ‘Minister on Leave’

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust unveiled a blizzard of ‘gender inclusive’ phrases in a drive to stamp out ‘mainstream transphobia’

Notes published by the Cabinet Office state: ‘The Bill seeks to provide the ability for ministers and certain Opposition office holders to take paid maternity leave.

Later this month Mrs Braverman, 40, is due to become the most senior minister to give birth while in government. She had her first baby as a backbench MP.

Until now, only junior ministers have been able to take maternity leave and have another member of government take over their role, as sports minister Tracey Crouch did in 2015. There is no mechanism for top rank ministers to do so.

The Cabinet Office notes to the Bill admit: ‘The result is that a minister in such a role who wished to take extended maternity leave would need to resign.’ 

Since members of the Government are appointed by the Prime Minister, they lack the same legal rights as most employees.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said: ‘It is quite unbelievable that women Cabinet ministers have faced resignation or demotion when choosing to have children.’

Hospital tells doctors, nurses and midwives to say ‘birthing parents’ and ‘human milk’ instead of ‘mothers’ and ‘breastmilk’ because they risk offending transgender people 

By Jack Elsom and Rosie Taylor for MailOnline

A hospital has told staff to use terms like ‘birthing parents’ and ‘human milk’ rather than just referring to ‘mothers’ and ‘breast milk’ so transgender people are not offended.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust unveiled a blizzard of ‘gender inclusive’ phrases in a drive to stamp out ‘mainstream transphobia’.  

The Trust is the first in the country to formally implement such a radical overhaul for its maternity services department – which will now be known as ‘perinatal services’.

Other changes include replacing the use of the word ‘woman’ with the phrase ‘woman or person’, and the term ‘father’ with ‘parent’, ‘co-parent’ or ‘second biological parent’, depending on the circumstances.

Scroll down to see all the new words 

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust unveiled a blizzard of ‘gender inclusive’ phrases in a drive to stamp out ‘mainstream transphobia’

The new terms will be used for documents, protocols and Trust-wide communication.

They will also be used when discussing pregnancy, birth and parenting at a population level – such as at a meeting.

The Trust stressed that when interacting with a patient in a one-on-one scenario, midwives should continue referring to their gender. 

Brighton hospital’s new ‘gender inclusive language’

Previous term: Breastfeeding

New term: Breast/chestfeeding 

Previous term: Breastmilk

New term: Human milk or breast/chestmilk or milk from the feeding mother or parent

Previous term: Her

 

New term: May need to use ‘them’ or ‘their’ when replacing ‘woman’ with ‘woman or person’ 

Previous term: Maternal

 

New term: ‘Maternal and parental’ or ‘maternal/parental’ 

Previous term: ‘Maternal’ or ‘maternity’

 

New term: ‘Maternity’ or ‘perinatal’ (this acknowledges that ‘Maternity’ sometimes refers to terminology which it is not possible for BSUH to change at present) 

 

Previous term: Maternal consent

New term: Informed consent

 

Previous term: ‘Maternal notes’ or ‘maternity notes’ 

New term: ‘Hand held notes’ or ‘Antenatal/Labour and Birth Care/Postnatal Care Record’ 

 

Previous term: ‘Mother/s’ 

New term: ‘Mother/s or birthing parent/s’ or ‘mothers and birthing parents’ 

 

Previous term: She

New term: May need to use ‘they’ when replacing ‘woman’ with ‘woman or person’

 

Previous term: ‘Woman’ 

New term ‘Woman or person’ 

A policy document released this week, said staff should not stop using the word ‘woman’ or other terms describing motherhood but they should consciously start adding in the word ‘people’ and other more inclusive language.

It said: ‘Gender identity can be a source of oppression and health inequality. We are consciously using the words ‘women’ and ‘people’ together to make it clear that we are committed to working on addressing health inequalities for all those who use our services.

‘As midwives and birth workers, we focus on improving access and health outcomes for marginalised and disadvantaged groups. 

‘Women are frequently disadvantaged in healthcare, as are trans and non-binary people. 

‘By continuing to use the term ‘woman’ we commit to working on addressing health inequalities for all who use our services.

‘We also recognise that there is currently biological essentialism and transphobia present within elements of mainstream birth narratives and discourse. 

‘We strive to protect our trans and non-binary service users and healthcare professionals from additional persecution as a consequence of terminology changes, recognising the significant impact this can have on psychological and emotional wellbeing.

‘Acknowledging the cultural context in which service development occurs is vital in making trans and non-binary lives safer.’   

The move was welcomed by inclusivity campaigners. Campaign group TransActual tweeted: ‘This is fantastic, well done. Let’s hope many more trusts follow suit. Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.’

An estimated 1 per cent of the adult population in Britain identifies as transgender or non-binary but the trans population in Brighton and Hove is thought to be larger.

Although no official figures exist on the trans community, research has shown nearly 10 per cent of the population of Brighton and Hove identify as LGBTQ+, compared to around 2.2 per cent of the general population.

The Office for National Statistics estimates that there are approximately 200,000-500,000 trans people in the UK.

However it says there is no robust or clear indication of the true number. 

Freddy McConnell, 34, was the the first British transgender man to ever carry and give birth to a child. 

He previously lost a battle to be registered as the ‘father’ on his son’s birth certificate. 

Freddy who was able to get pregnant in 2017, was legally male when he gave birth to his first child Jack in 2018. 

Having accessed a sperm donor, Freddy stopped taking testosterone to become pregnant and became the UK’s first transgender man to carry and give birth to his own baby.

When Jack was born he wanted to be registered as ‘father or parent’ but a registrar told him that the law, Children Act 1989, requires people who give birth to be registered as mothers.

An appeal to be named ‘father’ on his child’s birth certificate was rejected by Supreme Court Justices in November 2020, because it was seen as not an ‘arguable point of law’.

The journalist who had already lost two rounds of a legal battle, said being forced to be recorded as ‘mother’ breached his human right to respect for private and family life. 

Freddy (pictured) told his 7,000 followers how he had desperately tried to research worrying symptoms including blood loss

Freddy McConnell, 34, (pictured) who lives in London, took to Instagram to reveal he has suffered a miscarriage at six weeks 

In January he revealed that he had suffered a miscarriage at six weeks after having IVF to fall pregnant with his second child.

Freddy discovered that he was pregnant from an embryo transfer in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

Mr McConnell started taking testosterone aged 25 and had breast tissue removed a year later, but never had a hysterectomy to remove his uterus because he had not ruled out wanting children. 

Posting on Instagram, the father-of-one said he had begun excitedly imagining the next nine months, but he then discovered that he had suffered a loss at six weeks after having blood tests at a clinic in the New Year. 

‘Pregnancy loss is still taboo and it shouldn’t be. Trans and queer pregnancy loss is part of that, however small, however invisible, however fervently denied by a hateful few,’ he said.   

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