Writing Tips: Neutral and Inclusive Language

Neutral language is language that is free from bias towards a particular sex or gender and goes hand-in-hand with inclusive language. When producing documents intended for patients, it is important that your patients feel seen. Neutralizing the language used in your writing lets your patients know that you are not making assumptions about them as individuals.

If you are not used to the terminology used in the 2-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (2SLGBTQ+) community, you should familiarize yourself with the correct words and terms before setting out to write patient materials. The following resources can help you:

Neutralizing Clinical Language

In the clinical setting, it is easy to forget that there are words, terms, and phrases used that encourage the idea of both heteronormativity and cisnormativity. Consequently, patients may not see themselves reflected in the materials they are reading. The table below shows some examples of clinical language that can sometimes be insensitive and alternatives that can be used to be more inclusive.

Pregnant womenPregnant people
BreastfeedingChestfeeding, pec-feeding, nursing
Gynecological examPelvic exam
Birth controlSafe sex practices

Here are some resources that can help you get started with neutral and inclusive language in a clinical setting:


“Using someone’s correct personal pronouns is a way to respect them and create an inclusive environment, just as using a person’s name can be a way to respect them.”

What and Why. MyPronouns.org Resources on Personal Pronouns.

More Resources

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