Healthline.com, an online provider of basic health information, has elected to sideline science in favor of feelings by announcing that the terms “vagina” and “penis” are not inclusive enough to the trans community. In order to make sure that everyone in the LGBTQIA cannon feels included — a seemingly unachievable goal with each new letter added to the acronym — Healthline released a statement describing some new trans-friendly terms that have been added to the LGBTQIA safe sex guide.
They feel that many transgender males (born female and identify as male) prefer to call their vaginas “front holes” or “inside genitals” whereas transgender women (born male and identify as female) may prefer to use the terms “girl dick” or “strapless” when referencing their penises.
In a particularly poignant quote, Healthline made it very clear that they are not interested in basic biological facts when it comes to sex education, “Many individuals don’t see body parts as having a gender — people have a gender. And as a result, the notion that a penis is exclusively a male body part and a vulva is exclusively a female body part is inaccurate.”
In fact, scientifically, the terms “male” and “female” exclusively refer to the reproductive parts that are attached to a person’s physical body, and do not describe the personality or physical characteristics of a person outside of that very specific area. If a person feels that they are the opposite gender than one represented by their genitals, that doesn’t mean their genitals cease to be biologically relevant. Quite simply: A vulva is female and a penis is male. It’s the same in every mammal.
It is unfortunate that trans people feel triggered and offended by words like “vagina” and “penis,” but that doesn’t make those terms any less of a part of their human biological structure. This devaluing of scientific language in the name of inclusivity deeply endangers a right understanding of our own bodies.
After some heavy initial criticism of their language inventions, Healthline released a statement reaffirming that they will still be using the words “vagina” and “penis” in their literature in addition to their new “inclusive” terms.
The etymology of “vagina” and “penis” are actually not even based in gender. The term “vagina” is actually rooted in the Latin term for “sheath” or “scabbard,” and “penis” comes from the Latin word for “tail.” When educating on the function of natural bodies, especially in the context of teaching safe sex, the weakening of clinical terms totally misses the point and devalues complete education — endangering the people who will not receive the correct information as a result.
Medically speaking, the vagina is the canal between the hymen and the cervix, not just the vulva. However a person self-identifies in terms of gender, if they are born with a vagina or a penis, there are many very important aspects of that anatomy that need proper knowledge and attention. Whether female or male, the human reproductive system does not exist to hurt anyone’s feelings, and it needs proper medical care, maintenance, and understanding. Whether natural or surgically manufactured, simplifying a person’s anatomy down to a “front hole” in the name of sensitivity denies that person the proper understanding and respect of their own body.
“Vagina” and “penis” are not badges of gender identity, they are terms that refer to vital elements of an extremely complex human reproductive system that must be properly understood — particularly if a person is considering radical, life-altering body modifications.
The claim that medical terminology used by the entire population is not inclusive to everyone is an attack on integral, common language. An attack on words is an attack on freedom of expression. By selecting words previously not associated with slander and ridicule and assigning malice to them, our common language becomes toxic. Trans people are not protected by using different terminology to refer to their body parts, they are further discriminated against.
A person uninitiated into the specific collection of acceptable words and terminology should not be condemned as a bigot by simple and innocent use of language. A word cannot be inherently evil, though people can make them evil by using them as slurs and symbols of oppression. Certainly many words today are associated with deep hatred and evil — but innocent, clinical terminology should absolutely not be diminished in the name of misguided political correctness.