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Breastfeeding charity attacked for supporting trans and non-binary parents who just want to feed their children

Emma Powys Maurice November 30, 2020
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close up image of a baby feeding

Stock photo of a young baby. (Envato)

A breastfeeding charity that offered support to trans and non-binary people was met with a bitter backlash on the UK parenting forum Mumsnet.

In coordination with Transgender Awareness Week the British branch of La Leche League (LLLGB) announced its support for “everyone who wants to breastfeed or chestfeed”, a term used to avoid triggering dysphoria in trans men who are nursing a child.

The charity released an article detailing its inclusive guidance regarding transgender and non-binary parents, including resources for those who wish to induce or suppress lactation, as well as methods to supplement milk supply.

“We are aware that transgender and non-binary individuals use a variety of different terms to describe their anatomy and the acts of feeding and nurturing their babies,” the article concluded, explaining the ‘chestfeeding’ terminology.

“Elsewhere on the site we use ‘breastfeeding’, ‘breastmilk’ and ‘mother’: they reflect the founding and unchanged mission of LLLI to provide mother-to-mother support for breastfeeding.

“They also reflect the stated identity and valued role of the majority of people whom we support and provide information to – those who identify as breastfeeding mothers. Whatever language you use we hope that much of the information we share is still helpful and relevant.”

This important distinction was lost on one former La Leche League leader, who shared with Mumsnet the lengthy complaint she addressed to the charity.

“I was a La Leche League leader for many years and am very upset to see how the organisation has lost its focus on the mother and baby,” she wrote.

“LLLGB should not be promoting the idea that males can induce lactation to feed a baby… I would hope you have also considered the fetishisation of breastfeeding which does not only apply to men watching women, males lactating is also a paraphilia.”

Mumsnet users baffled by inclusive chest feeding policy.

The complaint quickly fired up the parenting forum, whose users are unfortunately infamous for providing outraged responses to trans inclusion.

“I’m sorry but the word disgusting comes to mind. The idea of promoting babies drinking a hormone and chemical infused breast milk makes me feel sick,” said one user.

“This is utter s**t. There’s nothing sacred!” replied another. Their sentiment was echoed by others in multiple threads, where many focused on the term “chestfeeding”, seemingly under the misapprehension that it was replacing breastfeeding.

Helen Lloyd, chairman of La Leche League GB, told the Daily Mail that the inclusive policy was nothing new and had actually been in place since 2017.

Asked whether the charity would welcome a trans woman to a breast feeding group, she said it would be up to the discretion of local leaders, but indicated they would not be turned away.

“We would not be in a position to challenge somebody’s gender presentation. If someone is feeding a baby at their chest we would not say get out,” she said.

“We are absolutely proud to be inclusive and to be making our reach as wide as possible. I can see it’s unsettling for people who grew up thinking very clearly [that] it’s mothers who breastfeed and believing there is a very clear divide behind sex and gender.

“The world is moving on and we are trying to keep up to date and ensure that there is nobody who needs us and doesn’t get the support.”

Related topics: breastfeeding, Mumsnet, Parenting, pregnancy

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