No entity urged health professionals globally to abandoned the word "vagina" for "bonus hole." Rather, one cervical cancer charity in the United Kingdom published a document for medical staff leading cervical screenings with trans men or non-binary patients in which the terms "bonus hole" and "front hole" were listed as alternatives to the word "vagina." The document appeared to serve as an educational resource, not a policy mandate.
On July 8, 2023, The Daily Mail asserted in a headline that "health professionals" were being "urged" by an unidentified entity "to call vaginas 'bonus holes' to avoid offending trans or non-binary patients."
The claim was a misleading regurgitation of a controversy created a few weeks earlier, when conservative outlets like The Blaze reported on the contents of a 2020 document produced by one cervical cancer charity in the U.K. — Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. Both that original reporting, as well as the later article by The Daily Mail, referenced a factual document but mischaracterized its intent. The Blaze wrote:
A British cancer fund is recommending that the word "vagina" not be used, but instead the term "bonus hole," so as to not offend transgender people.
Indeed, a document on Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust's website, filed under resources for professionals who are performing "cervical screening for trans men and/or non-binary people," labeled "Glossary," included two alternatives for the word "vagina":
Bonus hole — An alternative word for the vagina. It is important to check which words someone would prefer to use. [...]
Front hole — An alternative word for the vagina. It is important to check which words someone would prefer to use.
That a single charity's glossary for medical professionals doing cervical screenings, specifically, could be interpreted as a recommendation for all health professionals to change their methods, writ large, was a suspect proposition to begin with. It was even more suspect when one examined the nature of the document from which the rumor originated. It appeared to serve as an educational resource, not a policy mandate or proposal, and unpacked several issues for trans men or non-binary people when it comes to accessing routine cervical screenings.
Nobody was recommending, as The Blaze claimed, that the word vagina not be used in all medical settings. Instead, the charity — in concert with a large LGBTQ+ rights group in England — listed the terms "bonus hole" and "front hole" as wording suggestions for medical staff should they feel that would be appropriate. The document did not recommend, or "urge," providers to use the words in all appointments, with all patients.
Anyone with a cervix between ages 25 and 64 is eligible for cervical screening, which includes many trans men and/or non-binary people. [...]
There is sometimes an assumption that trans men and/or non-binary people have had gender confirmation surgery. This surgery alters someone's physical appearance or sex characteristics to match their gender identity. It often involves removing the cervix, which would mean they are not eligible for cervical screening. However, many trans men and/or non-binary people are not able or choose not to have surgery.
In response to the controversy, a spokesperson told the Daily Mail that their material was "not promoting the use of these phrases with all women":
'We are aware that some of our online information is currently attracting significant attention. The information being shared is from a webpage written for health professionals to support trans men and / or non-binary patients with a cervix to attend cervical screening.
'The page includes a glossary of terms they may hear from their patients and was developed with expert organisations who work with the LGBT community.
'The page is not promoting the use of these phrases with all women, it is a list of phrases that nurses may hear some patients prefer.
'Our mission at Jo's is to prevent as many cervical cancers as possible, and a big part of that is increasing uptake of cervical screening.
'Women are our main audience at Jo's, however some trans men and / or non-binary people have cervixes and to reduce as many cervical cancers as possible it is important that we also provide information for this group and the health professionals who support them.'
Because no entity urged health professionals globally to abandoned the word "vagina" for "bonus hole," and this claim was a misleading interpretation of a single document by one charity in the U.K. intended to make cervical screenings more accessible to trans men and non-binary patients, specifically, we rated this claim False.