Bette Midler Stirs Tense Debate on Social Media With Controversial Tweets

Bette Midler drew some serious backlash on Twitter for tweeting about the language used to describe women and transgender people on Monday. The 76-year-old actress has been lauded for supporting the LGBTQ+ community in the past but has also had her fair share of controversy when it comes to social media. Monday might have been the fiercest debate of all.

"WOMEN OF THE WORLD! We are being stripped of our rights over our bodies, our lives and even of our name!" Midler tweeted. "They don't call us 'women' anymore; they call us 'birthing people' or 'menstruators,' and even 'people with vaginas!' Don't let them erase you! Every human on earth owes you!"

Midler's post confused some readers, who felt like Midler might be misunderstanding the terms she was raging against. Midler has been among the many people outraged by the U.S. Supreme Court's recent reversal of its Roe v. Wade decision. However, the terms she listed in her tweet are generally used by fellow feminists and pro-choice activists, not pro-life activists.

Some commenters took an explanatory tone under Midler's tweet. They guessed by her tone and the context that she had not gotten the full story on these terms. They pointed out that a term like "birthing people" is a way to refer to cisgender women, transgender men and nonbinary people so long as they are capable of getting pregnant. At the same time, this language is more precise because it excludes menopausal people and people who have had hysterectomies.

"Don't do this, Bette. 'Birthing people' is language used to make sure we don't exclude trans comrades. It doesn't erase women at all," one user wrote. Another added: "No one is trying to erase women with inclusive language about people who need abortion care. No one is calling you anything but what you prefer. You should extend that courtesy in return," while a third wrote: "As a woman without a uterus, I support inclusive language to normalize that trans men need reproductive healthcare too, 100% It's not trans people who are taking away my right to bodily [anatomy]. We're all fighting the same fight."

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Midler has not commented any further on this controversy since Monday. She has been active on Twitter, but has posted mostly about the shooting in Highland Park since then. Commenters seem to be split on whether or not to assume that Midler had misunderstood the terms she tweeted about or not.