"Pregnant People" v. "Pregnant Women"?

Continuing the discussion from Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) Thread - 2021 Breaking News:

My bold.

Turns out This Is a Thing.

Upper East Side of New York City. Its name, the Alexandra Cohen Hospital for Women and Newborns, might strike most people as innocuous or straightforward. But to some people, the suggestion that a hospital where babies are born is for women is offensive, because transgender and nonbinary people who do not identify as women can also get pregnant and deliver babies.

Only niche groups tend to care about how Americans discuss gender and pregnancy—including whether it’s better to use the term pregnant people instead of pregnant women . But those groups care a lot.

The Atlantic allows 4 free articles per month to non-subscribers.

Is all gender-specific language now on the way out? Will we say “people’s testicles” because transgender individuals can have physical alterations to their anatomy?

Bad writing.

We all know only women (females) with a functioning uterus can get pregnant.

AFAICT, either usage is defensible: “pregnant women” because the massively overwhelming majority of people who get pregnant are cisgender women, and “pregnant people” because a very small minority of people who get pregnant are transgender men.

I don’t see why not. I don’t think it’s really problematic to say “men’s testicles”, even though not all men have testicles and not all people who have testicles are men. Because the association of men with having testicles is quite well known.

But nor do I see any problem at all with referring to “people’s testicles”, if we are trying to be specific about referencing the testicles of all those and only those people who have testicles.

(This is provoking flashbacks to the tumultuous J.K. Rowling thread sparked by said author’s silly online harrumphing about a newspaper article referring to “people who menstruate” instead of “women” when discussing the challenges of menstrual hygiene in the COVID-lockdown setting. Uh, if you’re talking specifically about the physical effects of having menstrual discharge and the people who experience them, including menstruating transgender men who may be trying to keep their menstruation secret because they’re not out as transgender, then it really makes total sense to speak of “people who menstruate” in that context.)

I see they have emojis for pregnant men and pregnant people:

Sigh…society goes yet once more, into a 100-page debate about whether a spade should be called a spade.

Not all people identify as men or women, as well. Some people who get pregnant are not comfortable with being called women, and also are not transgender men. Pregnant person/people covers everyone.

Yeah, the phrase “pregnant people” is technically more factually accurate than “pregnant women”. Both because

  • some people who get pregnant identify as transgender men (or nonbinary or genderqueer, good point eschrodinger), and because
  • many pregnant people are female children, i.e., girls rather than adult women.

So I don’t really get why so many people get so upset about use of the factually accurate descriptor “pregnant people”. They’re all people, and they’re all pregnant, so why not just call a spade a spade and say that they’re pregnant people?

To me, these are the salient points:


Is the fact that a small minority “care a lot” reason enough to significantly alter the way we talk about unchangeable biological realities?

“People” is imprecise. It can mean men or women or children or transgender…basically any human being at all.

Changing the language for millions or even billions for some extreme edge cases really does not make much sense.

As I understand it, you comment is considered sexist and stuff. You see, you are saying transwomen are not really women. This came to my attention when J K Rowling took exception (much as you did) to the construction “people who menstruate.”

She pointed out that only women menstruate and was vilified for it. Such is the world we live in.

As long as we’re discussing factually accurate usage here, there’s another problematic aspect of your sentence besides the “only women (females)” part. Namely, the implication that only premenopausal fertile cisgender women can be said to have “a functioning uterus”.

A uterus is still functioning anatomically in many ways even if the body it’s in is no longer reproductively fertile, or was never reproductively fertile.

Similarly, would you say, for example, that a post-vasectomy cisgender man doesn’t have “functioning testicles”? They may no longer be reproductively functioning, but it would seem a bit dismissive to imply that they’re not functioning at all.

Nothing I said was wrong.

Nothing at all.

That a uterus does not function to have babies 100% through a woman’s life changes nothing.

If a human is pregnant then, by definition, that human has a functioning uterus. And the ONLY humans that can do that are females.

That female can call herself male all she wants. Doesn’t change the reality.

And then there’s the inclusive usage where someone says ‘We’re pregnant,’ meaning both presumed parents of the child, even though only one of them is actually hosting the fetus.

Sure, and “pregnant people” means the subset of all those people, including men and women and children and transgender, who happen to be pregnant.

In other words, it’s a phrase that means exactly what it says. I still don’t see why some people are so bothered by it.

What’s “changing the language”? “Pregnant people” is a perfectly cromulent phrase in the English language, and one that all English speakers can understand immediately in its literal sense.

Note that, as I said previously, I’m not advocating that nobody should be allowed to use other phrases such as “pregnant women”, or “pregnant women and girls”. I don’t have any problem with the use of such phrases.

But I have a real problem with the notion that the use of other, more factually precise phrases such as “pregnant people” is somehow wrong or bad.

That’s what I thought the OP was getting at when I first responded (more was added to the OP after I responded and it was too late for me to edit my post).

Well, for your definition of what it means for a uterus to “function”, I guess.

I repeat: Would you say that a cisgender man who’s had a vasectomy does not have “functioning testicles”?

Honestly, I would not even notice “pregnant people” vs. “pregnant women”.

It only becomes an issue because some people, for some reason, want to make it an issue.

The problem comes if the grammar police try to enforce one or the other.

Neither do I, generally, unless somebody such as the OP brings it up as being A Thing.


How does a person carry a pregnancy if they do not have a functioning uterus?

It is definitional. It cannot be any other way until we get sci-fi exo-wombs.