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Medical journal editor apologizes for cover labeling women as 'bodies with vaginas' 

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Unsplash/Becca Tapert

The lead editor of the British medical journal The Lancet has issued an apology following outrage over a recent journal cover that labeled women "bodies with vaginas."

For its Sept. 25 edition, the weekly peer-reviewed journal featured a quote on the front cover from a perspective piece that said, "the anatomy and physiology of bodies with vaginas have been neglected."

The cover quote garnered outrage from many who, among other objections, viewed the choice of words as erasing women and bowing to transgender ideology.

Richard Horton, editor-in-chief at The Lancet, issued a formal apology, saying that "we have conveyed the impression that we have dehumanised and marginalised women."

"I apologise to our readers who were offended by the cover quote and the use of those same words in the review," stated Horton.

"At the same time, I want to emphasise that transgender health is an important dimension of modern health care, but one that remains neglected."

Horton went on to explain that the review quoted on the cover "is a compelling call to empower women, together with non-binary, trans, and intersex people who have experienced menstruation, and to address the myths and taboos that surround menstruation."

"The review calls for greater efforts to overcome the lack of knowledge and stigma too often associated with menstruation," he continued.

"These are serious issues that demand serious actions. We encourage people to read the full review and support a growing movement against menstrual shame and period poverty."

Critics of The Lancet's cover quote included retired psychiatrist David Curtis, who took to Twitter to denounce the "bodies with vaginas" quote in a series of posts.

"It's really difficult to imagine why any medical researcher would want to submit their paper to a Lancet journal when they are happy to refer to women on their front cover with language which would be considered inappropriate even in a red light district," tweeted Curtis.

Claire Heuchan, a black feminist writer, also took to social media to criticize The Lancet cover quote, labeling it sexist and hypocritical. She contends that The Lancet has not referred to "bodies with penises."

"This framing makes it sound like a coincidence that 'bodies with vaginas' have been neglected by medicine, as if it were not the product of a discrimination and oppression specific to the female sex," tweeted Heuchan. "Medical misogyny is exists - and refusing to acknowledge women perpetuates it."

"Why is it that [The Lancet] acknowledge the specifics of male biology, and do so without dehumanising men as 'bodies with prostates', when they're out here talking about 'bodies with vaginas'? Why are men treated with dignity while 'women' is made unsayable? This is female erasure."

In the United States, Harvard Medical School received pushback after it called women "birthing people" when promoting a panel discussion about "Maternal Justice" to be more inclusive nonbinary or trans-identified individuals. 

In June, the Biden administration was criticized for "bias-free language" policies that eliminate the use of gendered terms like "mother" and singular pronouns like "he" or "her." Critics pointed out that the administration's 2022 budget proposal erases the word "mother" and replaces it with the term "birthing people."

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