Kirstie Alley calls gender-neutral language for breastfeeding 'degrading and nullifying' to women

Kirstie Alley has condemned a leading medical organization for encouraging gender-inclusive vocabulary on breastfeeding

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 22: Kirstie Alley attends the premiere of Quiver Distribution's "The Fanatic" at the Egyptian Theatre on August 22, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Kirstie Alley has criticized the use of gender-neutral language when discussing breastfeeding, in light of new medical guidelines on treating post-natal patients. 

The American actor condemned the recently updated guidelines of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM), which advise using "gender-neutral language" when it comes to nursing parents. 

In a statement released earlier this year, the international organization acknowledged "that not all people who give birth and lactate identify as female" and "that some of these individuals identify as neither female nor male" and therefore encouraged "the use of desexed or gender-inclusive language" when treating patients. As an example, it suggested healthcare workers use "lactating person" in place of "mother" and "chestfeeding" instead of "breastfeeding". 

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc

(Image credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty)

It went on to explain the differences between gender, which refers to "one’s cultural roles and includes personal and social identity" and sex, which refers to "a biological assignment of female and male."

While the document has been welcomed by the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, not everybody is on board with its recommendations. 

Kirstie Alley took to Twitter to share her thoughts on the change of language, slamming the ABM for succumbing to "insanity." Ignoring its clause about the distinction between gender and sex, the Cheers star insisted breastfeeding can only be done by women. 

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"BREAST-FEEDING IS what WOMEN do," she wrote. "Women also bottle feed. Men bottle feed too. We do not have to buckle to the insanity of the minuscule minority of lunatics who make us feel guilty for not sharing their insanity. 'Chest feeding?' 'human milk feeding?' WTF STOP IT!!!" 

Kirstie doubled down on her comments with a follow-up tweet, slamming the ABM for "degrading and nullifying" women by switching up their terminology. 

"Breastfeeding is one of our abilities," the outspoken Republican said. "It’s a beautiful and important ability. Knock off the nullifying of women fir [sic] the sake of lunatics. Equal rights does [sic] not equal insanity." 

Dr. Laura R. Kair, one of the statement's co-authors, disagrees—citing language as an important aspect of practicing medicine ethically and safely. 

"The language that we use should be as inclusive as possible when discussing infant feeding," she wrote. "When working with patients it is best to ask them their affirmed terminology. When communicating medical research, language should accurately reflect the population studied so as not to mask research needs."

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.