I’ve seen many tabloids today decrying the General Medical Council’s guidelines for practitioners regarding gender neutral pronouns being used regarding pregnant people, and I am baffled by the visceral response it has generated.
For one thing, a tabloid newspaper denouncing and contradicting the governing body for medical practitioners is worrying. Do these newspapers believe that they know how to care for patients better than the professionals who have gone through countless years of training, exams and learning to gain the qualifications to treat said patients?
I for one would like to see these journalists’ credentials before trusting their opinions.
The disregard for peoples’ choices is also frightening. Misgendering has been found to be linked to many psychological problems as well as reinforcing sexism and cisgenderism (source 1, source 2). There is no danger in referring to someone in a gender neutral way; misgendering someone is genuinely dangerous.
Not only is ignoring peoples’ chosen pronouns cruel and dangerous, it is also illegal. The Equality Act 2010 gives everybody, including transgender individuals, protection against discrimination and harassment. Intentionally and knowingly misgendering people definitely falls under this umbrella. Medical practitioners refusing to use the patient’s preferred pronouns are breaking the law.
As medical practitioners, one of the most important areas of expertise that are used is putting the patient at ease. Any medical situation, including pregnancy and birth, have the potential to be extremely stressful. If the medical professionals around you, who are supposed to be helping and supporting you, are constantly using the wrong pronouns when referring to you, this will only add to an already stressful situation. It is the practitioner’s duty to ensure the patient’s experience is as stress-free as possible. If this includes using gender-neutral pronouns, then that is what they should do.
If a patient does take exception to being referred to in a non-gender specific form, they can always ask their practitioner to use their preferred gendered pronouns, and the practitioner will comply. You can still be called “mum” or “dad” if you like!
And finally, if the “millennial” generation of “special snowflakes” is causing you this much anger and anxiety over pronouns, I put this to you: maybe you are the special snowflake if you can’t handle people you don’t know being called by their preferred pronouns.
P.S. sorry about the bad pun in the title. I couldn’t resist!