Campus Reform | Columbia U medical school: Refer to women as 'people with uteruses'

Columbia U medical school: Refer to women as 'people with uteruses'

Columbia University released the 2017 guidelines to achieve 'an anti-bias and inclusive curriculum.'

A university webpage also claims that 'race is a social construct' and that 'racism, rather than race, is a risk factor.'

The medical school at Columbia University released guidelines to promote “an anti-bias and inclusive curriculum” in which it encourages people to refer to women as “people with uteruses,” when referring to the “presence of a uterus rather than the person’s expressed gender identity.”

The Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons stated that “inclusion” is an important value for the college and that the “guidelines for educators are intended to combat systemic racism and bias which decrease our ability to provide equitable medical care, and to increase inclusion within our medical school.”

According to the website, the guidelines were created by students, faculty, and administrators at the college and "adopted by the Committee on Education Policy and Curriculum in June 2017."

The guidelines include six sections that teach people how to “be mindful of language, attitudes, and behaviors,” “be inclusive in representations of “healthy/’normal,’” “be inclusive in representations of pathology,” “avoid stereotypes in representations of pathology,” “explore structural reasons for differences in health outcomes,” and “acknowledge limitations of research.”

In the first section, the guidelines encourage people to use “precise gender-related language,” specifically with referring to women as “people with uteruses,” if “the relevant point is about the presence of a uterus rather than the person’s expressed gender identity.”

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The guidelines also want to eliminate “the use of outdated and imprecise terms” such as “Caucasian” “to describe a white person.”

The guidelines also encourage people to “be inclusive in representations of "healthy/'normal.’”

“Example: A textbook may describe healthy gums as being “coral pink” in color, when in fact healthy gums of persons of color may be pigmented; similarly, most examples of couples are limited to heterosexual partners. Such a limited description of normal inadequately prepares students to work with diverse patients and risks inadvertently communicating to some students that they are not ‘normal.’”

The webpage also describes how “race is a social construct” and how “racial categories (i.e., ‘black’ or ‘white’) reflect social conventions rather than meaningful biological distinctions.”

The college claims that by looking at race as biological, one can perpetuate “the false notion that differences in health outcomes along racial lines are due to biological differences between races.”

“Race does not describe an individual’s genetic makeup,” the guidelines state. “For instance, the higher risk of death from prostate cancer among black patients compared to white patients is better explained by poorer access to high quality preventive and uro-oncologic care than by a difference in prostatic histology or pathophysiology. Racism, rather than race, is a risk factor.”

[RELATED: UPitt calls women 'birthing people' in article about 'reproductive justice']

The Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons is ranked “5th among the nation's hospitals by U.S. News and World Report” and “provides international leadership in educating physicians, physician-scientists, and research scientists.”

Campus Reform reached out to the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @opheliejacobson