Chestmilk vs breastmilk: Hospitals change language policy to accommodate transgender patients

Chestmilk vs breastmilk: Hospitals change language policy to accommodate transgender patients

England has become one of the first countries to encourage health workers to accommodate trans and non-binary people who are giving birth by changing their language policy to using gender-neutral language.

I am human - transgender
I am human/ iStock

Maternity services at the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust in England have been told to be mindful of using terms such as ‘breastfeeding’ and ‘breastmilk’ when working with transgender patients, states The Sidney Morning Herald. This is part of a new trans-friendly policy at a National Health Service trust. 

According to the publication, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust is the first in the country to formally implement a gender-inclusive language policy for its maternity services department, known as perinatal services.

READ: Meet the first transgender character on 'The Bold and the Beautiful'

"BSUH always aims to meet the needs of our local populations and provide the best possible, individually tailored care for every person. By adding to the language we use we will support more inclusive care and ensure that people who identify in a different way feel the service includes and represents them," reads a statement on the hospital's website

“Adding to the language we use is something people who use our services have been asking for, for some time. Our aim will always be to treat everyone who uses our services as an individual, providing care that is personal to them, that meets their needs and uses language they are comfortable with,” said BSUH Chief Nurse, Carolyn Morrice.

Some of the new terms that staff has been told to adopt to include:

- Birthing parents, or maternal and parental parents.
- Breast/chestfeeding.
- Human/breast/chest milk or milk from the feeding mother or parent. 
- Woman/person. 
- Father/parent/co-parent/second biological parent. 

South Africa is also working on changing its policies to include children that are born intersex. 

The Department of Home Affairs published a draft Official Identity Management Policy (OIMP) on 31 December 2020 that seeks to include a third gender in order to cater to children who are born intersex.  For more on the story, read: Government proposes to amend laws to include third gender on birth certificates.

Image courtesy of iStock/ @gustavofrazao

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