Last week for my column at RH Reality Check* I wrote about Trevor MacDonald, a Canadian trans man and father who made headlines for being rejected as a La Leche League (LLL) leader.
In response LLL is reconsidering their policy that leaders must be breastfeeding women because Trevor, in fact, is breastfeeding his son.
I’ve talked before about how few resources exist about trans pregnancy and parenting, so the positive side of this controversy is that more people know about Trevor, his experience and the resources that exist (some he’s created) about breastfeeding for trans parents.
Trevor, despite having had top surgery, has been able to breastfeed his son using his own milk and an at-breast
milk supplementation system supplemental nursing system which is basically a thin tube that is connected to a bottle but is attached next to the nipple so that the baby can latch on to the nipple and the tube at once. This promotes the bonding that comes along with breastfeeding, but also allows the parent’s milk supply to be stimulated by the baby sucking, along with additional nutrition from the supplemented milk (Trevor has been getting this milk through donations from other breastfeeding folks).
Now I’m not a breastfeeding expert, and I can’t honestly remember much about what was covered on this subject at my doula training, but I’m surprised that this is the first I’ve heard about this. Both the fact that some people can produce breast milk post-top surgery, and that there is a way to supplement with other milk that isn’t a bottle.
I can imagine that the at-breast supplementation system might be tricky to use, and some folks would prefer the ease of the bottle. Related question: can you use the at-breast system if you are supplementing with formula?
While I’m not glad that Trevor was rejected as a LLL leader (and I hope they will come around and see that anyone who is breastfeeding should be welcome) I am glad that his story has brought attention and resources to the question of breastfeeding while trans.
I’d also love to hear from folks, doulas or otherwise, who have experience working with trans parents who chose to breastfeed. Other resources? Tips? Leave them in comments or email me (radicaldoulaATgmail) and I’ll post more later on.
Update: Trevor sent along the link to this fabulous post with tips for breastfeeding for trans folks.
*Transgender is misspelled in the title of the column, which was an error made by the Editor. I’ve contacted them to ask them to fix it, but have not heard back.