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British Doctors Advised Not to Say ‘Expectant Mothers’ but ‘Pregnant People’

BMA has guidelines for right words for doctors to use…


The British Medical Association (BMA) has published a booklet for its 160,000 members entitled, “A guide to effective communication: inclusive language in the workplace”.

The booklet is intended as a guide on what are right and wrong words for BMA staff and representatives to use when addressing certain people, places and conditions.

It has gotten a good deal of publicity, controversy and ridicule in the British (and some American) media because of a recommendation which advises British doctors not to say ‘expectant mothers’ since it might offend transgender people, but to say “pregnant people” instead.

“A large majority of people that have been pregnant or have given birth identify as women. We can include intersex men and transmen who may get pregnant by saying ‘pregnant people’ instead of ‘expectant mothers’”, the BMA booklet says.


The booklet also advises on other words to use and not use:

‘Biologically male’ and ‘biologically female’ should be replaced with ‘assigned male at birth’ or ‘assigned female at birth,’ the booklet advises.

Doctors are also advised to consider not using a person’s last name or ‘surname’ since it is often the name handed to a person from their father, pointing out that the etymology of ‘surname’ “may originate from sire-name, the name derived from one’s father”.

Using a person’s first name may be more ‘gender neutral’, but the booklet advises doctors not to refer to the person’s first name as their ‘Christian name’ since that might offend Jewish or Muslim persons.


To avoid words or phrases that contain the word ‘man’, like the ‘the man in the street’, ‘manning the phones’, ‘taxman’, ‘layman’s terms’, ‘chairman’ and ‘policeman’ and ‘boy,’ as in ‘as every schoolboy knows’.

Instead of man or mankind, man-hours or manpower, doctors are advised to use humanity, humans, human beings, people, or society, work hours or staff time, staff, workforce, personnel, or workers.

Instead of using Mr. or Ms., doctors might like to consider adopting the gender-neutral title, ‘Mx’.

Instead of husband, wife or spouse, or girlfriend or boyfriend, use “partner or accompanying person (so as to not discriminate between married, unmarried or same sex partners)”

Instead of “family planning clinic” use “sexual health clinic” or “sexual health and wellbeing clinic.”


Doctors are also advised not to use ‘black’ in a negative way, eg ‘black sheep’, or ‘black mark’.

To read the BMA booklet:






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