By Donald DeMarco
Donald DeMarco is a professor emeritus of Saint Jerome’s University and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He is a regular columnist for the Saint Austin Review and the author, most recently, of Reflections on the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Search for Understanding.
The Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (U.K.) have issued a new set of guidelines that introduces an assortment of “trans-friendly” terms. The concern is to avoid offending people who have been transgendered by insisting that there is such a thing as distinct sexes. The guidelines instruct doctors, nurses, and midwives to use gender-neutral terms. Thus, “chestfeeding” should replace “breastfeeding” so that nursing a baby is not necessarily associated with a particular sex. Breast milk gives way to “chest milk” or “human milk.” The person engaged in giving “chest milk” should be known as a “birthing parent,” rather than as a mother. Pregnant women should be referred to as “pregnant persons” and the father as the “second biological parent.”
As everyone who has the slightest knowledge of human anatomy knows, breast milk does not come directly from the chest. But in what is now called the “Post-Truth Era,” truth must take a back seat to gender ideology. Both men and women have chests. In this sense, they are both equal. To make the breastfeeding mother distinctive could be offensive to transgendered people who do not want to be excluded. Nonetheless, despite the commitment to be inclusive, reality indicates that the man is excluded from breastfeeding while the mother’s act of breastfeeding is denied. This should be offensive to mothers who are nursing their babies.
Rodney Dangerfield, whose character never got any respect, traced this disrespect to the fact that he was breastfed by his father. What was once understood clearly as a joke is now regarded as a welcomed example of inclusivity. What is comedy’s loss is gender neutrality’s gain.
Meanwhile, the Australia National University’s Gender Institute Handbook suggests that “gestational parent” is preferable to “mother,” while “non-birthing parent” should replace “father.” How far this trend will go is difficult to say. Perhaps Mother’s Day will give way to Gestational Parent’s Day. In that case, a child might be able to purchase a mug dedicated to “The World’s Best Gestater.” Appropriate mugs could be designed for “The World’s Best Second Biological Parent.” The terms “Mom” and “Dad” would be expunged from the vernacular. Children would attend sensitivity training classes.
No doubt there will be people who would like to see Holy Scripture changed to accommodate the transgendered brigade. Genesis would state that God created “people” who could get together in different ways. Male, female, husband, wife, and marriage would be deleted. The Nursing Madonna would be known as the “Chestfeeding Person.” St. Paul would address his readers with the salutation, “Dear Siblings.” There would be no marriage at Cana, just a gathering of people for no particular reason.
Traditionally, reality came first and words were intended to mirror reality. Anatomists would recognize the nursing function of the mammary glands and refer to it as “breastfeeding.” In the brave new world, an arbitrary ideology comes first, which does not reflect reality, and words are used to mirror that ideology. This, of course, is a formula for chaos, since not everyone will begin with the same ideology. Reality would no longer be a common denominator. Nonetheless, “Big Brother” will be watching.
In the world of gender neutrality, there is no way to specify one’s niece, nephew, aunt, or uncle. If one refers to “my secondary biological parent’s sibling’s child,” the identity of niece or nephew remains obscure. Similarly, is my “primary birthing parent’s sibling” my aunt or my uncle? And is her “sibling” her brother or her sister?
The vocabulary of politically correct terms, such as “trans-friendliness,” “gender neutrality,” “diversity,” “inclusivity,” and “equality,” fail to place dialogue at the starting point. To speak of breastfeeding as chest feeding is to move a significant step away from reality. The science of anatomy would need to be made less clear. A process of education in reverse gear would ensue. Would a return to reality be possible? The ideology comes at a high price.
Religion commands us that we not offend God. If we carry out that mandate, we have no need to worry about offending anyone, since all human beings are children of God. Christ commands us to love our neighbor. This is a positive command and a good starting point. Not offending anyone is a negative mandate which neglects the positive mandate that should precede it. Even if we could avoid offending anyone, we might still be in the dark about what we should do. We need to act, and not offending is not an act. A life that avoids offending people but never cares about them is sterile and empty. One cannot cultivate flowers by plucking out weeds.
Holy Scripture makes no concessions to political correctness. It puts first things first. It honors the primacy of God, truth, and love. In yielding to political correctness, we avoid what comes first and are lost without a compass. Scripture is our compass because it invariably points us in the right direction.