The UK government says the term “pregnant woman” should not be used in a UN treaty because it “excludes” transgender people.
Feminists reacted with outrage to what they said was the latest example of “making women unmentionable” in the name of transgender equality.
The statement comes in Britain’s official submission on proposed amendments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the UK has been a signatory since 1976. The UN treaty says a “pregnant woman” must be protected, including not being subject to the death penalty.
Yet in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office submission, Britain opposes the term “pregnant woman” because it may “exclude transgender people who have given birth”. The suggested term is “pregnant people”.
Only two known UK cases exist of transgender pregnancy, where children are born to trans men who have had a sex change but retained a functioning womb and ovaries.
Sarah Ditum, a prominent feminist writer, said: “This isn’t inclusion. This is making women unmentionable. Having a female body and knowing what that means for reproduction doesn’t make you ‘exclusionary’. Forcing us to decorously scrub out any reference to our sex on pain of being called bigots is an insult.”
The move comes two weeks after The Sunday Times revealed that Britain’s Office for National Statistics has suggested making the sex question in the next census voluntary because it “discriminates” against trans people. The proposal triggered protests, with academics saying that it would be impossible to plan services for women. The feminist Germaine Greer said it denied women’s “right to exist”.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office statement, revealed today, follows UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement last week that the government is to press ahead with a consultation on changes to the Gender Recognition Act, allowing people to “self-certify” their gender.
Critics have warned biological men will get the legal right to access women’s hospital wards, prisons, lavatories, changing rooms and competitive sports simply by declaring they are female.
The UN covenant is part of the International Bill of Human Rights. It undergoes periodic revision, with the latest UK submission part of the revising process.
The FCO said: “We requested that the UN human rights committee made it clear that the same right (to life for pregnant women) extends to pregnant transgender people.”
The Sunday Times