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Lancet top editor apologizes to readers offended by 'humans with vaginas' cover quote

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The top editor of a medical journal addressed the controversy surrounding a cover quote referring to women as "humans with vaginas."

Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of the Lancet, issued a statement on Monday that acknowledged the cover and article in the Sept. 25 weekly edition gave the impression that the journal had "dehumanised and marginalised women." He offered an apology to "readers who were offended by the cover quote and the use of those same words in the review."

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

"Trans people regularly face stigma, discrimination, exclusion, and poor health, often experiencing difficulties accessing appropriate health care," he added.

The article is a review of an exhibition titled Periods: A Brief History at the Vagina Museum in London and looks at the conversation surrounding menstruation. This includes dispelling common misconceptions throughout history and modern issues, including "period poverty" that refers to the difficulty to access pads, tampons, and other sanitary products or a clean place to handle periods.

"The exhibition review from which The Lancet cover quote was taken is a compelling call to empower women, together with non-binary, trans, and intersex people who have experienced menstruation," Horton wrote. "[Also] to address the myths and taboos that surround menstruation. The review, like the exhibition, puts these myths and taboos into historical context."


Critics of the cover sounded off on social media.

David Curtis, who identifies as a retired psychiatrist and former statistical reviewer for the Lancet, tweeted his disapproval of the language used.

"Just wrote the Lancet to tell them to take me off their list of statistical reviewers and cancel my subscription and never contact me about anything ever again," he tweeted. "Absolutely inexcusable language to refer to women and girls."

“This framing makes it sound like a coincidence that ‘bodies with vaginas’ have been neglected by medicine," feminist blogger and author Claire Heuchan wrote. "As if it were not the product of a discrimination and oppression specific to the female sex. Medical misogyny exists — and refusing to acknowledge women perpetuates it.”

British talk show host Piers Morgan also criticized the word choice, telling the publication to use "women" instead.

"‘Bodies with vaginas'????" Morgan tweeted. "What the hell are you talking about? They’re called WOMEN."


Horton encouraged everyone to read the full article to become more aware of the issues facing a large portion of the world's population.

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

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Tags: News, sexism, History, medicine, London

Original Author: Misty Severi

Original Location: Lancet top editor apologizes to readers offended by 'humans with vaginas' cover quote

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