September 26, 2022

Folx, abortion is OK but transphobic pronouns are not OK

Dispatch from the Reproductive Revolution. Quinn Jackson, MD, (they/he) is a family medicine physician in Kansas City, Missouri, and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health. Dr Jackson stands out in the reproductive health space – a trans male doctor (i.e., natal female) who works in a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.  

In an article in MedPage Today, Dr Jackson says that they/he loves the work. “I believe abortion can be a very empowering experience, and for many of my patients, the solidarity between women is a part of that. People with uteruses suffer so much violence from men.”

What troubles Dr Jackson is not the ethical issues around abortion, or even the dark clouds hovering over Roe v Wade, but pronouns. It seems that even in abortion clinics people persist in using the wrong pronouns for Dr Jackson.

There has been a concerted effort by some in the reproductive rights movement to make abortion more gender inclusive. Some clinics ask patients for their pronouns and some of those staff members will use them. Some organizations use “pregnant people” in their communications. The key phrase being “some.” Others continue to use language and imagery that excludes gender queer and trans people from abortion conversations. The most hypocritical among us will espouse inclusion publicly, but fail to show up for non-binary and trans folx in meaningful ways. It is exhausting. Yes, I see you prescribing gender affirming hormones, yet calling me “she” in every meeting we attend.

Many people work in toxic environments but it comes as a surprise that this includes abortion clinics.