Green: On the one hand, you can think about terms like pregnant people as being more inclusive: They provide legal cover to the broadest universe of people who might experience pregnancy, and they also invite us to reimagine who might have this kind of experience.
But aspects of these terms are also exclusionary. Talking about “birthing people” means you are not talking about “women giving birth” or “birth moms.” That’s an affirmative identity that people really care about.
Do you agree with that at all—that gender-neutral language around pregnancy may be exclusionary in some way?
Melling: Not if we’re doing it right. You can talk about birthing as an experience that is common to so many women, as well as an experience for transgender men and nonbinary people. You can have more expansive language. This is how people sometimes talk about BIPOC: That’s a broad category, but then you can be more specific about how certain restrictions affect Indigenous people or Black people. You can put emphasis in different places while still recognizing broader harm. You just have to be more intentional. You have to do more work.
One analogy that I think might help is breast cancer. I don’t even remember when I first heard about men who get breast cancer. I will admit: I hadn’t thought about it. The man who has breast cancer has his own fear of the diagnosis. Then he’s going to struggle going into a whole host of places that are gendered. We addressed a gap in care to try and encourage women to come forward and have a community. But we also need to make space so that men with breast cancer can be recognized both by the medical profession and by the rest of us.