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Inclusive language in healthcare: A letter to the British Menopause Society

November 20th 2021

Medical, Advocacy, Transgender, Health

The British Menopause Society (BMS) plays an important national role in educating healthcare professionals regards the menopause.

When reviewing their publicly available content we noted that the language used in BMS training materials and guidance entirely ignores the experience and needs of trans men, trans masculine and non-birary people assigned female at birth.
This lack of inclusivity risks whole groups of people being excluded from important quality of life healthcare, which can result in negative and life-threatening outcomes such as those we have already seen with cervical screening.

We wrote to the BMS highlighting our thoughts on how to ensure the language they use is more inclusive of trans and gender diverse people.

The BMS response was to refer us to their ‘Gender Language Policy’, a policy that effectively states those who are not women yet experience menopause will be referred to as “women” in their publications, literature, and other printed and digital materials.

 

The British Menopause Society (BMS) recognises that patients have diverse gender identities. In our publications, literature, and other printed and digital materials, the BMS uses the word “woman” (and the pronouns “she” and “her”) to describe patients or individuals whose sex assigned at birth was female, whether they identify as female, male, or non-binary

BMS Gender Language Policy

 

As an organisation GenderGP advocates on behalf of our patients and clients on important matters that directly and indirectly affect them, as such we will continue to engage, along with other organisations lobbying for change, with the BMS on this issue.

We will continue to update our audiences as and when we’re aware of any developments.

 

Sent via email: 3rd November, 2021

Dear Sara Morger and Haitham Hamoda

I am writing to you on behalf of GenderGP, further to the latest British Menopause Society update regarding the availability of HRT medications and the launch of your new‘Menopause in the Workplace’ portal.

As an organisation supporting the trans community, we very much welcome a level of detailwhich allows our teams to be more informed about the availability of certain medications thatare an important part of many of our patient’s gender affirming treatments. We also welcomethe awareness and support about menopause that your organisation provides for employersand employees alike through the ‘Menopause in the Workplace’ portal.When reviewing the ‘British Menopause Society’s Vision for Menopause Care in The UK’,and the new ‘Menopause in the Workplace’ section, we did however note that the languagethat’s used fails to acknowledge trans men, and trans masculine and non-binary peopleassigned female at birth.

As the vast majority of those who live with menopause are women we certainly do notadvocate that the word ‘women’ or the needs of women be dropped from British MenopauseSociety resources and campaigning. It’s important that those who experience menopauseare able to access language that’s relevant to them, and it’s with this in mind that we suggestthat the society’s language around gender might be reviewed and perhaps made to beinclusive of those who experience the symptoms of menopause, who have post-reproductivehealthcare needs, yet who know themselves not to be women.

As such we would like to highlight the benefit of using inclusive language when organisations work to improve medical care in specific areas of healthcare. Using wording that specifically includes trans people within conversations about health indicates that their health and wellbeing outcomes are as equally important as any other section of society.

Despite being assigned one gender at birth, transgender individuals identify as a differentgender, or a mix of genders, or no gender at all. The relevance here is that sometransgender men, transmasculine and non-binary people will have ovaries that will ceaseproducing oestrogen and progesterone at the menopause, and may experience thesymptoms associated with that.

Yet all too often trans masculine and non-binary people are excluded from healthcarediscussions around menopause. We feel that if language shifted more towards theinclusivity of people of any gender, and who have an ovarian/uterine reproductive system, itwould greatly help these patient groups achieve better health outcomes.

We are more than happy to discuss this further, and support you with insights from theperspective of language use or indeed the first-hand experience of our service users.We look forward to receiving an update on any plans to include this patient population inyour work and then sharing this information with our service users.

Warm regards

Adi Daly-Gourdialsing (she/her/hers) – Current Affairs and Engagement Lead –GenderGP

 

If you are affected by anything in this update and would like to contribute to the discussion, you can contact us via our help centre.

 

Contact GenderGP

 

If you are affected by the issues discussed in this update and would like to talk to someone you can do so by speaking to one of our wellbeing team.

 

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You can learn more about the menopause and perimenopause on our website, or ask a member of our team. If you have story about accessing healthcare and you want to share it, you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Author: Adi Daly-Gourdialsing (she/her/hers)

Adi is our Current Affairs and Engagement Lead, and is responsible for monitoring the landscape and ensuring GenderGP is connected to what’s going on in the community. Adi’s background is in organisational development, user services, and community building. She is particularly interested in finding solutions to the challenges faced by trans and gender diverse communities when accessing timely and supportive healthcare. Adi is a peer mentor for a London charity, is involved in grass-roots LGBTIQA+ athletics advocacy, and lobbies for the right to cleaner air for all.

Adi has climbed the same volcano multiple times but never quite been brave enough to look over into the fiery pit of lava.