The constitutional right to abortion, guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, is under attack in our country. Texas recently enacted the most extreme anti-abortion law in the United States—banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they’re pregnant. It provides no exceptions for cases of rape or incest and emboldens private “pro-life” citizens to become vigilantes of a sort in the name of “protecting” the unborn. Texas isn’t alone. Right here in greater Cincinnati, Lebanon instituted its own unconstitutional ban of abortions.
Naturally, I am seeing a lot of messages that look something like this: Women deserve the right to choose; this is a women’s rights issue; a woman has the right to control her own body; etc. I agree, but abortion isn’t just a women’s issue. Trans men and nonbinary people can get pregnant; therefore, they also deserve the right to choose.
Given how it has enthralled our nation, we need to talk about how to discuss the topic in the most inclusive manner possible. We can start by using gender-neutral terms surrounding abortion. Instead of saying “women,” say “people.” It seems small, but it makes a world of difference for those who have been left out of the abortion rights conversation for so long.
You won’t find me quoting right-wing Fox News host Tucker Carlson often, but during his Sept. 2 broadcast, he called out White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for her non-inclusive language about abortion rights, however disingenuous it was.
“It’s a woman’s right, it’s a woman’s body, and it’s her choice,” said Psaki of the Texas abortion ban during a White House press briefing.
“She should know that men get pregnant now,” Carlson responded later during his show. “The science people tell us that every day.”
Now, Carlson is off about many things. Men have been able to get pregnant before “now.” He was also not raising this issue to defend trans men. In fact, he was belittling them, as well as Psaki. Yet, he is correct, and we should discuss Psaki’s non-inclusionary language, especially because of the prominent role she plays in our country. I don’t think Psaki meant any harm with her comment—we all grew up, and are still living, in a cis-normative society. However, it is our job to educate people like Psaki, so we can grow together.
The problem is that many trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERF) actively push against the inclusion of trans and nonbinary people in our discussion of abortion rights. In fact, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was recently attacked by TERFs for her use of the term “menstruating person.”
“Not just women!” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, responding to a Daily Mail headline that wrongfully stated, “AOC calls women ‘menstruating people’ while explaining the female body.” She continued: “Trans men & non-binary people can also menstruate. Some women also *don’t* menstruate for many reasons, including surviving cancer that required a hysterectomy.”
She is 100% correct. She didn’t call women “menstruating people” because women aren’t the only people who menstruate. Not only is it not inclusive, but it is also flat out inaccurate to suggest that only women menstruate and get pregnant.
So, the next time you hear someone say, “women deserve the right to choose,” respond, “Yeah! And so do trans men and non-binary people!”