“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.

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Here’s a sample of how the conversation unfolded across Twitter:

Understanding differences in word choice can clue us in to the bias of a media outlet. For example, a recent Instagram post by PBS Newshour recently chose the term “birthing parents.”

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.

What do you think? Is birthing people a pro-trans and inclusive term, or does it unfairly erase and deny the reality of biological women and mothers? Let us know on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

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).