One of the hardships social justice warriors face is the need to balance the competing sensitivities of each special interest group they claim to represent, many of which have more splinter factions than a Monty Python movie.
As such you have to feel for the New Statesman’s Glosswitch, who weighed into a pregnancy debate this week to preserve the victimhood of women while including non-women – a bid made difficult by the apparent adoption of the phrase “pregnant people”.
The backstory to this appears to be a dispute between two midwifery groups. Back in 2014 the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) changed its official language, replacing “women” and “mothers” with “pregnant people” and “birthing individuals”.
That’s a fair bit of violence to the English language, but given the medical trade often speaks unintelligibly it could well have been dismissed as an amusing curiosity. That was until Woman-Centered Midwifery (WCM) wrote an open letter in August of this year to protest the change.
The gist of WCM’s argument is that whilst a trans person might describe themselves as a man, their ability to give birth is indisputably female:
“We know as midwives that biological sex occurs at the level of our DNA and the gametes we produce, and is immutable. By embracing the idea that any human other than those in a class called women carry offspring to term, give birth to them and nurse them, we are prioritizing gender identity over biological reality.”
The reason this distinction matters (apparently) is because the ability to give birth is somehow central to women’s struggle against the patriarchy:
“The root of female oppression is derived from biology. Patriarchal systems arise out of male attempts to control female sexuality and reproduction. Female liberation from patriarchal oppression, including brutal and demeaning birth practices, cannot be achieved if we are forbidden from mentioning female biology.”
Unsurprisingly this letter went down lick a sack of shit with Trevor MacDonald, a transgender parent who has already given birth twice. In a Huffington Post blog MacDonald outlined his misgivings about the letter, claiming that “the open letter says that trans guys who give birth are not men; they are women because of their biology.” He went on:
“The above statement is highly offensive to trans individuals because it denies our gender. Also, it implies that the care provider decides the identity of the client, rather than listening to the client and forming a respectful relationship. It places a burden of conformity on all people who give birth.”
The response from feminists in that blog’s comment section quickly went nuclear. Jonah Mix weighed in on the side of WCM:
“If you are giving birth, you’re female. Jesus Christ, people. This is the most basic biology possible. You don’t birth a child with your ‘identity’. You birth a child with your body – and the trans movement is demolishing the ability of women to speak about the unique and meaningful nature of those bodies.”
Chante Shirelle Holsey was also rather appalled at being lumped in with the Neanderthal men:
“Wow, as a female born female I have a shared biological, physiological, physical, chemical, hormonal, chromosomal, reproductive reality with female born women who have survived girlhood. I do not enjoy being clumped in with males, often still possessing penises who have not shared on my biological reality. The erasure of the female born woman is what you are doing when you fail to acknowledge that only female born women travail in childbirth.”
And into this Glosswitch, who you might remember from the start of this post, attempted to argue that while including trans people in the pregnancy debate is important, it is important that gendered language is maintained so that feminists can continue to complain that opponents of abortion are trying to oppress women.
The fact most debate over abortion in Britain these days concerns viability and where “life” begins appears to have been lost on Witchy. But watching the, er, “intersectional community” engage in fratricide (Surely sorocide? – Ed) is certainly entertaining.
Bonus stupidity: Wendy Lev somehow pulls out a “misogynistic/transphobic” combo in the comments of MacDonald’s piece:
“It is not transphobic to know only females can get pregnant and give birth. Transmen are bio female. I do not deny their gender identity. Many themselves acknowledge they are bio female and always will be. It is in fact misogynistic to say it’s transphobic that females can give birth.”
Image Credit – Pregnancy, December 2013 by Tips Times