NORMALISING FALSEHOOD: My Brother’s Pregnancy & ‘Chestfeeding’

gender-chestfeedingFamily First Comment: Chestfeeding? Breastfeeding father? Transmaculine?
As the author of two of these articles says (not the silly TIME Magazine one of course)….
“Stay tuned, folks. The maddening spectacle is just beginning, and the silver lining is it will eventually collapse under the sizable weight of its own silliness. Let’s pray it’s soon.”
My Brother’s Pregnancy and the Making of a New American Family 1 September 2016
My brother Evan was born female. He came out as transgender 16 years ago but never stopped wanting to have a baby. This spring he gave birth to his first child…
Pregnancies like Evan’s—and the many that are likely to follow—will stretch our cultural perceptions of gender norms even further. Americans are just starting to open up to the idea that you may be born into a female body, but believe that you are really a man. But what if you are born into a female body, know you are a man and still want to participate in the traditionally exclusive rite of womanhood? What kind of man are you then?
What It’s Like to Chestfeed
The Atlantic 23 August 2016
When Trevor MacDonald started chestfeeding about five years ago, he didn’t know anyone who had attempted it, nor had any of his doctors ever encountered someone who had. In fact, he was shocked that his body could even produce milk. As a trans man—someone who was assigned female at birth but has transitioned to identifying as male—he was born with the mammary glands and milk ducts required for lactation, but he’d had his breasts removed. Once he had his baby, his care providers supported his desire to nurse, but it was up to him figure out how.
MacDonald began blogging about chestfeeding from his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and soon discovered a whole community of transmasculine people around the world in the same boat, looking for guidance. For trans men and transmasculine folks, putting a baby to their chest to suckle can lead to complicated feelings about their gender. Many lactation support services are available for “nursing mothers,” which sounds unwelcoming to men and non-binary individuals. And many trans people say doctors don’t understand their bodies or experiences.
Why Chestfeeding Will Backfire Badly
The Federalist 1 September 2016
The Atlantic recently featured the pioneering work of a woman from Winnipeg who asks that we take her as a man under the name Trevor MacDonald. She had her breasts removed under the misguided belief that “chest masculinization surgery” would make her feel like more of the man she believes herself to be.
The bearded MacDonald left her uterus intact, however, allowing her to become a mother (or “child-bearing person,” if you prefer). MacDonald tells of being unexpectedly overwhelmed by a tidal wave of desire to nurse her newborn even though she now has a man chest. She doesn’t speak of appreciating how her story illustrates that gender (I reject the gender/sex divide theory) might go deeper than one’s understanding of themselves, external body parts, or clothing choices. Sex and gender are not so easily divorced.
Earlier this summer, MacDonald proudly became a leader for the Le Leche League, an international nonprofit that supports breastfeeding. LLL changed their policy to include “men” with lactating breasts:
We recognize that any breastfeeding parent, regardless of whether they self-identify as a mother or father, should be – and is now – welcome to investigate LLL Leadership. There are other prerequisites that a potential Leader needs to satisfy, but being a woman isn’t one of them.
The possibilities are endless when you just start making stuff up. This news is super for MacDonald and her journey of self-discovery, but consider the anxious new mothers she will serve. Dealing with the rough seas of postpartum hormones and fragile body confidence issues, they must watch their instructor attach her child to her man chest as she eagerly instructs them in how to nurse.
All of her comforting “Don’t worry, ladies, I’m pretty much just like you!” assurances will do little to ease the awkwardness she’s forcing upon them. These ladies can neither complain nor demonstrate their discomfort. They certainly couldn’t roll their eyes and proclaim, “This is absurd!” Such feelings and behavior will be judged and denounced as raw bigotry and trans-hatred. These nursing mothers will have to be punished.

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