UK lobbies for trans rights in UN treaty but allows term ‘pregnant women’

The UK government says it has lobbied for the rights of transgender people to be protected in a UN treaty but that it has not objected to use of the term “pregnant women”, as suggested in previous reports.

There have been calls by campaigners, backed by the British Medical Association, for the expression “pregnant people” to replace “pregnant women” so that it does not exclude trans or intersex men.

Over the weekend, it was reported that the Foreign Office had written to the UN urging it to make the change to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that the death penalty “shall not be carried out on pregnant women”.

But a Foreign Office spokeswoman said it had not asked for the contentious words women or woman be expunged.

“The UK does not object to the use of the term ‘pregnant woman’,” she said. “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.” 

The proposed replacement of the term “pregnant women” has met with some resistance, including from some feminists, who believe it undermines their sex. Writing for the New Statesman, Victoria Smith said gender neutrality “shifts the focus away from gender as a means by which female bodies are controlled and problematises bodies themselves”.

The Foreign Office intervention comes as figures published on Monday show that the number of children who want to change their gender continues to rise. Read more via the Guardian