Gender-inclusive writing for epidemiological research on pregnancy

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Rioux, Charlie
Weedon, Scott
London-Nadeau, Kira
Paré, Ash
Juster, Robert Paul
Roos, Leslie
Freeman, Makayla
Tomfohr-Madsen, Lianne
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People who have a uterus but are not cisgender women may carry pregnancies. Unfortunately to date, academic language surrounding pregnancy remains largely (cis )woman-centric. The exclusion of gender-diverse people in the language of pregnancy research in English is pervasive. In reviewing a random sample of 500 recent articles on pregnancy or pregnant populations across health research fields, we found that only 1.2% of articles used gender-inclusive language (none of them in epidemiology), while the remaining 98.8% used (cis )woman-centric language. First and foremost, recent recommendations highlight the need to include trans, non-binary and gender-diverse people in study design. Meanwhile, there remains a lack of awareness that all research on pregnancy can contribute to inclusiveness, including in dissemination and retroactive description. We explain how the ubiquitous use of (cis )woman-centric language in pregnancy-related research contributes to (1) the erasure of gender diversity; (2) inaccurate scientific communication; and (3) negative societal impacts, such as perpetuating the use of exclusionary language by students, practitioners, clinicians, policymakers, and the media. We follow with recommendations for gender-inclusive language in every section (i.e., introductions, methods, results, discussions) of epidemiological articles on pregnant populations. The erasure of gender-diverse people in the rhetoric of research about pregnant people can be addressed immediately, including in the dissemination of results from ongoing studies that did not take gender diversity into consideration. This makes gender-inclusive language a crucial first step towards the inclusion of gender-diverse people in epidemiological research on pregnant people and other health research more globally.
obstetrics, women’s health, reproductive health, reproduction, transgender, sexual and gender minorities, gender identity, LGBT, rhetoric, writing