SNP report says ‘it’s not just women’ who get menopause symptoms

Humza Yousaf looks at the camera
Humza Yousaf, who leads the Scottish Government as First Minister - Ken Jack/Getty

SNP ministers have been accused of “engaging with fantasy” after issuing guidance to Scotland’s NHS that states “it’s not just women” who experience menopause symptoms.

The interim national menopause and menstrual health policy was sent to all of the country’s health boards by the Scottish Government.

Although it said most people affected by the policy would be women, it warned boards that “transgender, non-binary and intersex employees may also experience menopause and menstrual health-related symptoms”.

The document also defined a period as “part of the menstrual cycle when women, girls, and people who menstruate bleed from their vagina.”

A similar claim has previously been mocked by JK Rowling, who wrote a social media post in 2020 stating: “People who menstruate. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

The guidance emerged after Humza Yousaf stated last week that transgender women would be protected by his planned legislation outlawing misogyny.

JK Rowling poses on the Bafta red carpet in 2017, wearing a plum-coloured dress
JK Rowling previously mocked the use of the phrase 'people who menstruate' - John Phillips/Getty

Susan Smith, director for feminist group For Women Scotland, told the Scottish Mail on Sunday: “Once again, the truth is being twisted and contorted and the Scottish Government is trying to impose an anti-science ideology on the NHS.

“Clinicians must surely be aware that menopause is uniquely an experience belonging to the female sex. It is insulting and demeaning to women to pretend otherwise.”

She added: “This infantilisation of the workforce is troubling for those who expect a grown-up service which engages with reality, not fantasy.”

The policy told boards: “Effective management of colleagues with menopausal and menstrual health symptoms can help to improve team morale, retain valuable skills and talent, address inequalities and reduce sickness absence.”

‘Women will find this insulting’

However, it then went on to say that not only women were affected.

Tess White, Scottish Tory deputy health spokeswoman, said: “The menopause has a huge impact on many women’s lives, and they will find it insulting that their experiences are being diminished.

“The SNP government and NHS bosses should do the right thing and withdraw it.”

A Scottish government spokesman said: “The interim national menopause and menstrual health policy for NHS Scotland aims to support employees with their experience of menstrual health and menopause in the workplace.”

He then repeated the claim that “transgender, non-binary and intersex employees may also experience menopause and menstrual health-related symptoms”.

Meanwhile, Scottish prison bosses faced criticism after erasing references to “birth mothers” from a maternity document for staff.

The Scottish Prison Service’s (SPS) updated Maternity and Paternity Policy removed almost all gendered terms from the document including “mother”.

‘The parent who gave birth’

The policy instead called mothers the “birth parent”, describing them as “the parent who gave birth to the baby”, in what critics slammed as further bowing to trans ideology.

One of the few references to survive was made in a section on surrogacy where the policy stated “the surrogate birth parent who gave birth to the baby is considered the legal ‘mother’ in the UK”.

An SPS equality impact assessment of the new maternity policy said: “The language used in this reviewed policy is consistent with SPS policy language and is designed to be gender neutral and non-discriminatory throughout.

“Removing the reference to ‘birth mother’ and replacing it with ‘birth parent’ [serves] to acknowledge employees who may be transitioning to another gender, or do not attribute themselves to either gender.”

Fiona McAnena, director of campaigns at the human rights charity Sex Matters, said: “This is yet another assault on the rights of women by the Scottish Prison Service, which seems intent on erasing the status of women from all areas of policy and practice.”

An SPS spokesman said the policy had been developed “in partnership with our trade union partners and has undergone an equality and human rights impact assessment.”