A HOSPITAL has become the first in the country to adopt gender-neutral language in its maternity department.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has launched new guidelines to support transgender and non-binary people who are having children.

Midwives should use inclusive and gender-neutral terms such as "pregnant women and people" rather than "pregnant women", while terms such as "mother" or "mum" should not be default terms for trans and non-binary parents, according to the trust's policy.

Some individuals may prefer the use of "front hole" or "genital opening" rather than vagina, the policy adds

Staff should also be aware some individuals may prefer terms such as "chest-feeding" rather than "breastfeeding", and terms such as "parent", "co-parent" or "second biological parent" may be preferable to "father" depending on circumstances.

The policy states: "Maternity services have typically been designed as a cisgender (cis) women-only service, which may not serve the needs of trans and non-binary individuals.

"When providing perinatal care to trans or non-binary people, the trust and its employees should treat service-users according to their self-identified gender, not the sex they were assigned at birth.

"The ability to use appropriate language is an important skill professionals should develop, particularly in perinatal care settings where feminine pronouns and descriptors are the norm."

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The changes will apply to communication across the trust, including documents, signs, posters and resources, including its website and patient information leaflets.

The trust said it has introduced the policy to tackle health inequality and improve access for marginalised groups.

It states: "Women are frequently disadvantaged in healthcare, as are trans and non-binary people.

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"By continuing to use the term 'woman' we commit to working on addressing health inequalities for all who use our services.

"We also recognise there is currently biological essentialism and transphobia present within elements of mainstream birth narratives and discourse.

"We strive to protect our trans and non-binary service users and healthcare professionals from additional persecution as a consequence of terminology changes, recognising the significant impact this can have on psychological and emotional wellbeing.

"Acknowledging the cultural context in which service development occurs is vital in making trans and non-binary lives safer."

The move has been praised by LGBT campaign groups, including TransActual, who tweeted: "This is fantastic, well done.

"Let’s hope many more trusts follow suit. Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect."