"It is easier to build a strong child than to repair a broken man." - Frederick Douglass

Trump Administration Quashes CDC Terminology


Imagine the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention being told to change their terminology merely to appease GOP science naysayers. The Trump administration did just that when they submitted a list banned words to CDC policy analysts.

Interestingly, these terms aline with the political rhetoric President Donald Trump uses on a daily basis, especially on his Twitter feed. Technically, the disallowed words are not to be used in official documents. Many questions arise about the reasoning behind the new policy.

The CDC supposed to eliminate the following language:

  1. Diversity
  2. Entitlement
  3. Evidence-based
  4. Fetus
  5. Science-based
  6. Transgender
  7. Vulnerable

Trump’s administration suggested alternative language. Instead of using science-based they want this: “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”

The question many are asking is who represents the community or their standards? No one seems to have the answer. Besides, how does the alternative language differ from using science-based? In the former, the budget writers must use 13 words versus the latter, which is only two hyphenated words. Furthermore, the shorter term is easier to understand and, indeed, direct and to the point.

One of the CDC analysts was flabbergasted and reported the reaction of those present as “incredulous,” according to The Washington Post. Stunned, they asked, “Are you serious? Are you kidding?”

Naturally, the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) stated that the quashing of the terminology is an overreaction. Matt Lloyd, an HHS spokesperson, told CNN that using the term banned words is a misrepresentation of the agency’s budgeting process.

He assures that the Health Department: “will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans.”

Backlash Against the Quashing of CDC Terms

Nonetheless, eliminating three entire populations from the CDC’s language is counterproductive and causes consternation for all concerned. The vulnerable, fetuses, and transgenders have unique medical needs. The CDC addresses these through research, developing educational programs, and implementing regulations to serve the above-mentioned groups.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, released a statement condemning the exclusion of transgender folks. She complained that pretending and insisting this population is non-existent will cause harm, especially in the realm of medical research and subsequent treatment.

Moreover, Keisling issued a dire warning about the Trump administration being full of “science deniers,” who, she says, will end up killing Americans with their ignorance. She said they have no business being involved in public health.

Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, voiced similar concerns. She defined the executive order as perilous and irresponsible. Of the concerns she expressed, three stood out significantly.

First, if unable to research, use scientific-evidence, and teach about the prevention of infectious diseases like Ebola, the death rates will increase. Second, when discussing the effects of the Zika virus, or improving the health of women and their fetuses without using the word fetus would be near impossible and wholly ineffective. Third, “you cannot erase health inequities faced by people of color simply by forbidding the use of the words ‘vulnerable’ or ‘diversity.'”

Bruce Y. Lee, a contributing writer at Forbes, points out that using the word fetus is easier to use than “unborn or unhatched vertebrate especially after attaining the basic structural plan of its kind.” That eliminating the term vulnerable “won’t make 28.2 million Americans under the age of 65 who are uninsured or the over 46 million who live in poverty go away.” Additionally, for the terms transgender and entitlement, one must go to the thesaurus.

He further explains that entitlement has other uses. Then directs this query to the Trump administration: “What sense of entitlement gives one the right to override science and reality?”

CDC’s Function and How It Fits into the U.S. Health and Human Services

Founded 71 years ago, on July 1, 1946, by Dr. Joseph Mountin, the agency is a multifunctioning entity whose budget relies on the U.S. government. Its function is “maintaining developing and applying disease prevention and control, environmental health, and health promotion and health education activities designed to improve the health of the people of the United States,” according to their website.

The CDC is part of the healthcare system under the HHS. Other offices agencies are: the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry; the Food and Drug Administration; Health Resources and Services Administration; the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Indian Health Service; National Institutes of Health; Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health; Office of the Secretary; Program Support Center; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

EPA Was the First Agency to Remove Science-Denying Terminology

This move appears to be in line with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) removal of the term climate control from their website and news releases. Most Republicans believe that the climate concerns stem from liberal or Democrat hysteria.

It appears as though the CDC is merely the newest organization overtaken by science-denying and haters of anything non-GOP. Americans might consider raising their collective voices against the elimination of scientifically sound and well documented environmental and health concerns.

By Cathy Milne


CDC: About CDC 24-7; CDC Organization
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Services; America’s Health Responders
CNN: Word ban at CDC includes ‘vulnerable,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender’
Forbes: Here Are 7 Words That The Trump Administration Is Reportedly Banning At CDC
USA Today: ‘Transgender,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘science-based’ reportedly on CDC list of banned words
The Washington Post: CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity

Image Courtesy of Brett Weinstein’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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