‘Birthing Person’: Midwife Students Taught How to Deliver Babies Through ‘Male Genitalia’

Close-up of a pregnant woman's belly in the hospital bed with catheter in hand
Getty Images/Stock

A British university has reportedly instructed students studying to become midwives on how to deliver babies from “birthing persons” with a penis.

A “skills workbook” produced by Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland has drawn criticism after it was revealed that it had initially instructed midwifery students on how to assist biological males in giving birth.

The teaching resource, which were obtained from students by the feminist website Reduxx, stated: “It is important to note that while most times the birthing person will have female genitalia, you may be caring for a pregnant or birthing person who is transitioning from male to female and may still have external male genitalia.”

The manual went on to instruct the midwifery students that they should be familiar with how to use catheters for “both female and male anatomy”. It added that because, they claimed, both men and women can give birth, it would be referring to those in labour as a “birthing person”.

The website noted that while the university later amended the instructions to “female to male” transgender patients instead of “male to female”, all the references to how to handle the penis and other parts of the male anatomy such as the prostate gland remained in the text.

It also inserted a section explaining that female to male transgender patients may have to give birth through an artificially constructed “penis”.

The guide was criticised by Elaine Miller of the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy, who noted that the instructions were biologically incoherent and warned of the potential negative side effects for transgender people attempting to give birth.

“It is not possible for a male person to get pregnant,” Miller said. “A [female] with a gender difference can become pregnant but will not have male genitalia.”

“Most [females] who use testosterone, at the doses used for ‘transition,’ will develop vaginal atrophy. The fragile tissue of an atrophied vagina may be unable to stretch to accommodate a baby’s head,” Miller added, noting that biological female transgender people may rip, suffering “new types of birth injury”.

Emeritus Professor in Obstetrics and Women’s Health at King’s College London, Dr Susan Bewley also took aim at the instructions, noting that many women who undergo transition surgery also undergo an hysterectomy and therefore physically can not give birth.

“These materials are the opposite of the high-quality training that patients need from midwives and doctors. The project may have arisen from compassion and enthusiasm, but it is worrying that the writers don’t seem to know, care about, or check facts.”

Meanwhile, midwives across the country have been told by a government-sponsored report from the LGBT Foundation that they should refrain from using gendered language, including phrases such as “breastfeeding” and “vaginal birth” to make transgender people feel more comfortable, LBC reported.

The report suggested using more inclusive phrases such as “chestfeeding” and “frontal or lower birth”.

“Traditional terminology may induce dysphoria or discomfort for trans and non-binary parents,” the Conservative government sponsored report stated.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.