How Harvard Could Have Easily Avoided the “Birthing People” Controversy

So, I took a little social media break recently and when I came back, I was swiftly reminded why. I’m not normally one to throw shade or post angry rants on my blog. I want this to be a positive place. But the nonsense that has been spewed by Harvard, their subsequent backpedal and the ridiculous arguments I’ve seen hurtling around Twitter, just cannot be ignored.

For those not caught up…

Harvard University held a panel (back in October apparently, but everyone is suddenly noticing and raging about now), in which they introduced the controversial term “birthing people.” Their view was that this term was more inclusive and less offensive to the transgender community.

But just because something comes from a prestigious university and claims to have the goal of being politically correct, doesn’t make it right. This term seems to reduce complete human beings to a single bodily function, dehumanise and devalue them. And calling me, or anyone else “transphobic” for pointing this out, is just as wrong as Harvard using this ludicrous terminology in the first place.

From there, Twitter exploded into angry rants and criticisms like, “what if you’ve… had a hysterectomy… gone through menopause… can’t have children…” essentially stating that Harvard was trying to erase the existence of women unless they were able to, or had chosen to breed. Looking at the term on its own, hell yes, that is exactly what it appears they are doing. These kinds of comments then prompted responses from others, referring to these people as transphobic and intolerant, among other horrible names and slurs. And back and forth and round and round it all went…

After dropping this bomb and receiving the obvious backlash, Harvard then stated that they chose the term because “not all who give birth are women.” What they didn’t do (and SHOULD have done), was pointed out that the panel was specifically discussing BIRTH. They were exclusively applying the term to describe “people who had given or were going to give BIRTH.” At no point did Harvard say, “birthing people is the only acceptable term, don’t say women anymore.”

So, how could the geniuses at Harvard have avoided this disaster? Even leaving aside for the moment what I’ve just said above about how they could have swiftly gotten themselves out of the mess purely by stating the glaringly obvious…

Simple. Instead of saying “birthing people,” they should have just said “people.”

As we all should. We are all PEOPLE. Every one of us deserving of respect and kindness. Try to keep that in mind the next time you’re on social media. Just because you don’t agree with someone, doesn’t give you the right to call them names and tear them down. Words can hurt, just as they can heal. Use them wisely.

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