Sex-based language matters in healthcare – webinar

Sex-based language matters in healthcare

On Thursday 30th November 2023, our director of advocacy, Helen Joyce, talked to Karleen Gribble, an academic at Western Sydney University, and Elaine Miller, aka @GussieGrips, a physiotherapist and comedian, about the harmful trend to erase sex-based language when talking about women in health and social care, and in associated public messaging and research.

Watch the recording

About the speakers

Helen Joyce

Helen Joyce is a journalist and author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, an Amazon top ten bestseller, and Times of London and Spectator book of the year. She was a staff journalist at The Economist between 2005 and 2022, holding several senior positions, including International editor, Finance editor and Britain editor. She is director of advocacy for Sex Matters. Her newsletter can be found at

Elaine Miller

Elaine Miller is the woman who made the word “merkin” famous again. Known on Twitter as @GussieGrips – tagline “Come for the fanny, stay for the feminism” – she combined her professional knowledge as a pelvic physiotherapist with her love of stand-up comedy to write a show that tells women about the science of continence and the wonders of the pelvic floor. Gusset Grippers had sell-out runs and five-star reviews at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe and then won awards in Australia too – and she wrote an academic paper about the results. Her message of #LaughDontLeak has reached more than 590 million people, which is one of the reasons she was awarded a Fellowship by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. 

Karleen Gribble is an adjunct associate professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Sydney University. Her interests include infant and young child feeding in emergencies, child rights, caregiver-child and child-caregiver attachment, and the treatment of infants within the child-protection and criminal-justice systems. She is a passionate advocate for the recognition of the importance of mothers to their infants, particularly in situations of adversity. Concerned about the way advocacy for maternal infant proximity during the COVID-19 pandemic was hampered by desexed language, she convened a group of international experts on maternal and child health to write a paper addressing the importance of sexed language in maternity.  

Further reading

The groundbreaking paper Karleen co-authored with other academics on the importance of sex-based language for effective care of women and infants during pregnancy, childbirth and lactation: ‘Effective Communication About Pregnancy, Birth, Lactation, Breastfeeding and Newborn Care: The Importance of Sexed Language‘.

A full list of Karleen’s academic publications.

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