“We are being stripped of our rights over our bodies, our lives and even of our name!” Midler wrote in a Twitter message addressed to “women of the world.”
The actress and singer Bette Midler on Monday said women are being “erased” from society as LGBTQ+ activists highlight the need for gender-inclusive language abortion discussions.
In a message posted to Twitter addressing “women of the world,” Midler, 76, wrote that cisgender women are being “stripped of our rights over our bodies, our lives and even our name!”
“They don’t call us ‘women’ anymore; they call us ‘birthing people’ or ‘menstruators’, and even ‘people with vaginas’! Don’t let them erase you! Every human on earth owes you!,” Midler wrote.
In June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which had established the constitutional right to an abortion. Midler was among many celebrities to criticize the court’s ruling.
Backlash to the actress’ comments, which are typically critical of conservative viewpoints and lawmakers, was swift, with transgender and LGBTQ+ advocates calling for Midler to recognize that women are not the only people who may become pregnant.
“No one is trying to erase women with inclusive language about people who need abortion care,” the author Roxane Gay tweeted in response. “No one is calling you anything but what you prefer. You should extend that courtesy in return.”
“Don’t fall for the anti-trans panic fake nonsense,” Panti Bliss-Cabrera, an Irish drag queen and LGBTQ+ rights activist, tweeted at Midler. “No one is erasing women. In a few small healthcare cases where appropriate they are using trans inclusive language. That’s all.”
Nicole Maines, who in 2018 became the first person to portray a transgender superhero on television, said inclusive language is crucial to ensuring transgender people are able to access the medical care they require.
“That language is reflective of the reality that simply not just cisgender women menstruate or have need of reproductive healthcare,” she tweeted in response to Midler’s comments. “It takes away nothing from anyone to update and use accurate terminology as our understanding evolves.”
Maines, who is transgender, in 2014 successfully sued her school district after she was barred from using the girls’ restroom. The case, which was taken to the Maine Supreme Court, gave transgender people in the state the right to use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.
Some compared Midler’s remarks to those made by the author J.K. Rowling, whose views on transgender issues and identities have been accused of being transphobic. In 2020, Rowling mocked the headline of a news article about “people who menstruate.”
“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” Rowling wrote on Twitter at the time. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”