“Birthing people” or “mothers”? An online debate was sparked by Missouri Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush over Mother’s Day weekend after she used the term "birthing people'' in a speech in Congress, and Twitter lit up with controversy.
Some people have advocated for the term birthing people or birthing parents because they see it as inclusive of trans men (females who transition to male) and non-binary people, who may still have a womb and give birth. In this view, men can give birth, and the term “birthing people” is inclusive and compassionate toward transgender and nonbinary people.
Others, however, say that the term "birthing parents" is actually non-inclusive because it erases biological women. They argue only women can give birth, because they define women as those who have female reproductive parts. In this view, the term “birthing parents” represents an erasure of biological reality, and is therefore exclusive of biological females and insulting to mothers.
Here’s a sample of how the conversation unfolded across Twitter:
Birthing People? I’m empathetic to your painful & unfairly traumatic experience @CoriBush but why are you smearing bio-women to virtue signal to trans women? Why can’t we rise together? Your language is creepy. You are gaslighting. What you are doing is dangerous. #DemCult https://t.co/htTMTJQwZO— Rose McGowan (@rosemcgowan) May 6, 2021
“Birthing people” is an inclusive term that includes non-binary folks like me, intersex people and trans MEN. Not surprised but disappointed in Rose. https://t.co/g1mMXpkv2w— Daylina Miller (they/them) (@DaylinaMiller) May 7, 2021
Transgender men have become pregnant and given birth. Human beings with 46XY karyotype, what we consider to be genetically male, have become pregnant and given birth. The term “birthing people” is not only inclusive but also scientific. Sex and gender exist on a bimodal spectrum.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) May 6, 2021
You're trying to confuse people. Please read my essay below. https://t.co/iZSBesACWy— Colin Wright (@SwipeWright) May 6, 2021
When we talk about birthing people, we're being inclusive. It's that simple.— NARAL (@NARAL) May 6, 2021
We use gender neutral language when talking about pregnancy, because it's not just cis-gender women that can get pregnant and give birth. Reproductive freedom is for *every* body. https://t.co/9E9qKRMJTu
Leftists cancel "mothers" and say "birthing people" instead—because presumably "mother" could make some trans person, somehow, feel left out.— PragerU (@prageru) May 6, 2021
The rest of us make note of it.
The left then accuses us all of being "triggered by a word."
This is what's called projection, folks.
The debate over “birthing parents” versus “mothers” is rooted in what has become a hugely polarizing issue — whether gender is a social construct/spectrum, or whether it is largely determined by biology.
People often think and feel differently about the very same words and phrases. The AllSides Red Blue Dictionary includes hundreds of such terms, so that you can better understand the other side. Our Red Blue Dictionary entry on the term “transgender” can be a guide to understanding this hotly debated issue.
Julie Mastrine is the Director of Marketing at AllSides. She has a Lean Right bias.
This piece was reviewed by Joseph Ratliff, Daily News Specialist (Lean Left), and Rick Wytmar, Content and Research Assistant (Lean Left).