Britain lobbies for transgender rights - without dropping word "women"

LONDON, Oct 23 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Britain is seeking to extend to transgender people protection granted to women in pregnancy by a U.N. treaty but has not asked for the term “pregnant women” be dropped from the text, the government said on Monday after controversy over its wording.

Media reports that Britain’s foreign ministry was hoping to replace “pregnant woman” with “pregnant people” in the document drew criticism.

But the foreign ministry said it had not asked for this change among proposed amendments to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that it submitted earlier this month.

“The UK does not object to the use of the term ‘pregnant woman’,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

“We strongly support the right to life of pregnant women, and we have requested that the Human Rights Committee does not exclude pregnant transgender people from that right to life,” it added, referring to the body overseeing the treaty.

Medical associations and rights groups have argued in the past that the expression “pregnant people” should be used to show sensitivity towards expectant transgender and intersex men.

But feminist writer Sarah Ditum said losing the word “women” would undermine the link between pregnancy and other women’s rights issues, such as abortion and pay discrimination.

“That we could just take the whole idea of women out of the context of pregnancy is enormously insulting,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Richard Koehler of transgender rights group TGEU said it was wrong to pit the interests of women and transgender people against each other. "We are all fighting for the same," he said. (Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Ros Russell.; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit