CNN tweeted out a news article about the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) 2020 guidelines for cervical cancer screening. CNN’s article starts out, “Individuals with a cervix are now recommended to start cervical cancers screening at 25 and continue through age 65,” with HPV screening recommended every five years.”
A few years ago, CNN had an advertising campaign explaining to viewers that “this is an apple” – not a banana. The ad was roundly mocked at the time. A couple of parodies pointed out, using CNN’s capitulation to transgender ideology, that the news outlet didn’t know the difference between men and women.
To paraphrase J.K. Rowling on the topic: “‘Individuals with a cervix.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
CNN was using the same language as the ACS article announcing the guidelines, titled “Cervical cancer screening for individuals at average risk.” The article appeared in the ACS journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Except when referencing actual research on women, the ACS was careful to use “individuals” throughout the guidelines, instead of “women.” The cancer-screening guidelines also mention “transgender men who retain their cervix.” The ACS news story about the new recommendations used the phrase “people with a cervix,” never referring to women.
Thousands of Twitter followers were quick to jump on the tweet, as Twitter followers are wont to do, with a number of comments pointing out that the appropriate term for “individuals with a cervix” was “women.”
Transgender-identified activists and their allies defended CNN, explaining that the language was not “erasing women,” but was inclusive to transgender, non-binary and intersex people, as well as women.
Of course, this is not the first time that news outlets and medical groups have twisted language in an Orwellian fashion to placate transgender-identified activists and their allies. Rowling’s tweet, paraphrased above, was mocking the use of the phrase “people who menstruate” in an opinion piece in Devex, a media platform for the global development community.
Other examples abound. The American Society of Addiction Medicine refers to “pregnant people” in guidelines for “Treating Pregnant People with Addiction During the COVID Crisis.” Again, the guidelines occasionally slip and use the words “mother” or “women” when pointing to actual science research which recognizes the two sexes. But they tried to be gender neutral, so I guess that counts.
Earlier in July 2020, the U.K. charity, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, weighed in on a Twitter hashtag, #OnlyFemalesGetCervicalCancer. The group tweeted, “We’re aware a hashtag is trending that raises the issue of gender identity and cervical health. At Jo’s we want to ensure everyone with a cervix has access to the information and support they need to attend #CervicalScreening, regardless of their gender identity.”
PinkNews, an LGBT online news outlet in the U.K., wrote about the tweet, “UK’s biggest cervical cancer charity shuts down disgustingly transphobic lie that ‘only females get cervical cancer.’” So “everyone with a cervix” should be screened, and it’s a lie to insist only biological females get cervical cancer.
Jo’s Trust does have references to women – in older posts. And the organization does acknowledge the biological reality that the “cervix is inside the body as a part of the female reproductive system.” But more recent posts avoid the word “women” in favor of “people.” And the charity is careful to explain, “You should be invited for cervical screening if you have a cervix. Women are usually born with a cervix. Trans men, non-binary and intersex people may also have one.”
There are plenty more examples of the erasure of women – to accommodate transgender ideology and to not offend transgender activists. In November of 2019, Lynsey McCarthy-Calvert was hounded out of the charity Doula U.K. for insisting that only women give birth. In October of that year, Proctor and Gamble removed the female symbol from Always, its brand of sanitary pads. In August 2019, The Washington Post featured a story, “A mother, but not a woman.” And news outlets, for years now, have written about “pregnant men” and “chestfeeding dads.”
Thankfully, some men and women are pushing back against businesses, charities, medical groups (who really should know better) and news outlets that use language to erase or denigrate being female. McCarthy-Culvert posted this on Facebook, “I am not a ‘cervix owner’ I am not a ‘menstruator’ I am not a ‘feeling’. I am not defined by wearing a dress and lipstick. I am a woman: an adult human female.”
Rowling, defending the reality of being a woman, put it this way, “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”
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