Dear Inclusive Birth Group Admin,
As a birth worker, I am growing increasingly concerned about the confusion, darkness, and hateful division that are infiltrating the birth community.
It is not inclusive to exclude women who identify as women because they may post something in your group addressing other women who identify as women by using words that describe women who identify as women (i.e. "woman" or "mother").
If I, as a woman who identifies as a woman, want to address another woman who identifies as a woman, I should be able to do so. If I have cholestasis and want to address other people who have experienced cholestasis, I should be able to do so without expecting that anyone with an opinion can chime in with no relevant knowledge or experience. Same if I’m pregnant after my due date, my baby is breech, my blood pressure is high, or any other variety of situations that can happen throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I should be able to specifically address other women who have experienced the same as myself without having to filter through the opinions of those who have not shared my experience. And I, as a woman, should be able to address women.
I believe the same for trans people. They should be able to use language specific to them and their situations so they can find support that is specific to them and, therefore, most helpful. If I see a post that begins with, “I’m a man who is pregnant,” I can keep scrolling because I can't relate and have nothing to offer the conversation. They shouldn’t have to censor their language for me, and I shouldn’t have to do it for them. In fact, you're only denying many of the people you're trying to include the opportunity to use the exclusive language they desire to use - the reason they're transitioning in the first place.
Language is inherently exclusive. It’s meant to be specific. Different words are meant to have different meanings, and we’re meant to use those words to express specifically what we mean.
That’s why people have names, titles, and categories. If I want to address my husband, I don’t have to also address my children. If I want to address my own children, I don’t have to also address everyone else’s children. If I want to tell you about a horse I saw, I don’t have to use the word “animal” to be vague and inclusive of birds. I can specify “horse.” If I want to address Vermonters, I don’t have to also address those who live in NY. If you live in NY and see a post that starts with, “Hey, Vermonters,” keep scrolling; the post is not for you.
Inclusivity is not harmless, and it’s not always loving. Children should not be included in the group of people allowed to drink alcohol. White people should not receive scholarships meant for BIPOC. An explicit heavy metal song should not be included on a classical music radio station.
Exclusivity is where we find belonging. Second-grade classrooms are for second-graders. The chess club is for people who enjoy playing chess. Veteran organizations are for veterans. These are places people can go to find others who share their interests and/or experiences, and they are EXCLUSIVE in order to best serve the people who want or need to be there.
As a former healthcare worker, there is absolutely a place for informed, compassionate, individualized care for minority groups. I’ve skipped asking F to M people if there was any chance of pregnancy, and I’ve asked M to F people to remove their bras prior to their X-ray exams. I’ve learned Spanish so I could communicate with my Spanish-only patients. I’ve taken extra caution when approaching, speaking to, and positioning patients who were at the hospital following a physical assault. These are exclusive adjustments I made, in love, for the individuals who needed them, thereby enhancing their patient care experience.
I am sensitive, loving, and kind, and I do not accept that the vast majority - women who identify as women - must give up our language or our earned titles of wife, mother, and birthing woman at our own expense.
Where is OUR language, OUR individualized care, and OUR inclusion? Where is the validation of OUR needs, OUR feelings, OUR lived experiences, and OUR mental health? Women should not be marginalized for the sake of the marginalized. And women should not be excluded in the name of inclusivity.
But, please, do exclude me. You've done us both a favor.