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.
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 detail which allows our teams to be more informed about the availability of certain medications that are an important part of many of our patient’s gender affirming treatments. We also welcome the awareness and support about menopause that your organisation provides for employers and 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 language that’s used fails to acknowledge trans men, and trans masculine and non-binary people assigned female at birth.
As the vast majority of those who live with menopause are women we certainly do not advocate that the word ‘women’ or the needs of women be dropped from British Menopause Society resources and campaigning. It’s important that those who experience menopause are able to access language that’s relevant to them, and it’s with this in mind that we suggest that the society’s language around gender might be reviewed and perhaps made to be inclusive of those who experience the symptoms of menopause, who have post-reproductive healthcare 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 different gender, or a mix of genders, or no gender at all. The relevance here is that some transgender men, transmasculine and non-binary people will have ovaries that will cease producing oestrogen and progesterone at the menopause, and may experience the symptoms associated with that.
Yet all too often trans masculine and non-binary people are excluded from healthcare discussions around menopause. We feel that if language shifted more towards the inclusivity of people of any gender, and who have an ovarian/uterine reproductive system, it would greatly help these patient groups achieve better health outcomes.
We are more than happy to discuss this further, and support you with insights from the perspective 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 in your work and then sharing this information with our service users.
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.
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.
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, or comment below.