Women aren’t the only people who can get pregnant

gettyimages-173801873

AnthonyRosenberg/Getty

With Texas’s new abortion law still dominating the news, you don’t have to search far to read about how the new law will impact women. But pregnancy has never been an issue that solely concerns women (and not just because of the important role of male caregivers). People of all genders can get pregnant — not just women.

That’s because the truth about reproduction is a little more complicated than the “birds and the bees” lesson that many kids learn in school. Yes, you need sperm and an egg to make a baby. But there are 1.4 million transgender adults in the United States (a figure that is likely a vast underestimate), and their bodies don’t align with the assumption that men produce sperm and women produce eggs.

Many transgender men are capable of getting pregnant because they have a uterus and ovaries. And there are many people who are non-binary, genderqueer or otherwise don’t fit neatly into the categories of “man” or “woman,” who can also get pregnant. Additionally, intersex people can get pregnant if they have a uterus and ovaries.

Though it’s hard to fight the centuries-old idea that womanhood and childbirth are inextricably linked, the ability to get pregnant doesn’t automatically make someone a woman. Many of the issues that affect women can affect trans, non-binary and intersex people, too, and that includes pregnancy.

Much of the parenting world is targeted toward cis women (women who aren’t trans) — right down to popular terms such as “women’s center” and “mommy brain.” And while the majority of pregnant people are indeed cis women, the heavy focus on gender can be alienating for many people. Trans, non-binary and intersex people also have unique reproductive needs, and they routinely experience a lack of awareness or resources in healthcare settings.

That’s why it’s important to use inclusive language when talking about pregnancy, and about parenting and reproductive health in general. At CNET Parenting, we use gender-neutral terms like “parents” instead of “mothers.”  

Gendered terms like “mom” and “breastfeeding” will always have a place, too — but we shouldn’t assume that they apply to everyone. Updating your terminology is an easy switch that can go a long way toward improving outcomes for pregnant people of all genders.

Other inclusive terms to use when talking about pregnancy

Pregnant people: When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with simply using the word “people” wherever you would previously use “women.” People is about as inclusive as you can get — it includes everybody! Other options include “parent” or “patient.” 

Using the term “people” also forces you to be more specific, rather than making gendered generalizations. For example, you might say “people who can get pregnant” or “people who menstruate,” instead of just “women.” This has the bonus benefit of being more mindful of women who don’t have uteruses, don’t menstruate or can’t get pregnant for whatever reason.

Birthing parent or gestational parent: This term can replace “mother” to refer to an individual who carries and gives birth to a baby. It’s also useful for same-sex couples in which both parents are mothers, but only one physically carries the child.

Chestfeeding: Some trans and non-binary parents choose to feed their babies with their own milk. You can swap out “chest” for “breast,” and “chestfeeding” for “breastfeeding.” Refer to the milk as “chest milk” or “human milk.”

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *