The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced it will be updating guidance to say that “sex is not limited to male or female”.
The Gender Mainstreaming manual, first published in 2011, is used by medics worldwide for advice and planning purposes.
WHO claims the guidance is being revised in light of “new scientific evidence and conceptual progress on gender, health and development”.
Gender identity ‘spectrum’
The new version will go “beyond binary approaches to gender and health to recognize gender and sexual diversity, or the concepts that gender identity exists on a continuum and that sex is not limited to male or female”.
Professor Jenny Gamble of Coventry University called the change a “dismissal of basic biology” which is a “key determinant of health and illness”.
The midwifery expert said: “Not being clear about basic biology opens the door to a range of problems, including very poor health communication but also distorted data.”
‘Postmodern and unscientific’
Another expert in the field, Dr Karleen Gribble, said “there is no new scientific evidence suggesting there are more than two sexes”.
Gribble, from Western Sydney University, said: “The idea that there are more than two sexes, is a postmodern, unscientific understanding that should not be supported by the WHO”.
The UK donated about £114 million to the WHO in 2020-2021, making it the organisation’s top voluntary funding contributor for that year.
The revision is currently being rolled out for final feedback from relevant stakeholders.