Social media users are claiming there’s a widespread push for health care professionals to replace reproductive anatomy terminology with gender-neutral language. But this misconstrues what industry guidance says about treating transgender and nonbinary patients.
A July 9 Instagram reel showed a headline that read, “Health professionals are now being urged to call vaginals ‘bonus holes’ to avoid offending trans or nonbinary patients.”
Multiple social media posts have shared this headline or a similar claim. These posts were flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
The headline is from a July 8 Daily Mail article that references an LGBTQ+ glossary on the UK-based charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s website. The glossary, which was made in partnership with the UK-based LGBT Foundation, advises health care professionals on language to use when supporting trans men and nonbinary people.
The first entry in the glossary, which is organized alphabetically, is the term “bonus hole,” which is described as “an alternative word for the vagina.”
The glossary does not say health professionals should use this term instead of vagina, nor is this term a recent addition to the glossary, as the Daily Mail and social media posts suggest.
Rather, the glossary encourages health professionals to use terminology that patients are comfortable with. The entry for this term says, “It is important to check which words someone would prefer to use.” Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s website says the glossary was last updated September 2020.
A spokesperson for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust told PinkNews that the glossary includes terms health care professionals may hear some patients use, but it is not promoting the use of these phrases with all patients.
“Women are our main audience at Jo’s, however some trans men and/or nonbinary people have cervixes and to reduce as many cervical cancers as possible it is important that we also provide information for this group and the health professionals who support them,” the spokesperson said.
This is in line with health care industry guidance on how to treat LGBTQ+ patients. The World Professional Association for Transgender Health recommends in its latest Standards of Care guidelines, published September 2022, that health care professionals discuss with transgender and gender diverse people what language or terminology they prefer.
PolitiFact found no mention of the “bonus hole” terminology in guidance from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists or the National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center.
We think the claim that health care professionals are being “urgent to call vaginal ‘bonus holes'” False.