Transgendered breastfeeding father rejected as a lactation coach by LLL Canada.

I read Trevor’s story months ago on Facebook.  His story was causing quite a stir online.  Here is the description from his blog (http://www.milkjunkies.net/):

“A transgendered dad in a gay relationship breastfeeds his baby boy.”

He uses a SNS (supplemental nursing system) to feed his son donor breastmilk.  I don’t know what you are thinking, but I found him to be amazing, inspiring, and a great role model for others that are not in “traditional” relationships and are raising families.  I highly recommend checking out his blog!!
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Photo from http://www.thestar.com: “Trevor, a 27-year-old transgendered man, breastfeeds his 16-month-old son using a supplemental nursing system at home in Winnipeg.”

Trevor is a huge fan of the La Leche League.  They were a huge influence on his ability and drive to breastfeed his son.  He is very passionate about breastfeeding and it’s benefits.  One day, Trevor decided to write the LLLC a letter to see what it would take to become an LLL leader.  He wanted to help out other LBGTQ members who desired to breastfeed their babies.

Several weeks later, he got a response.  They rejected his request.

Read his letter to LLLC and their rejection letter here: http://www.milkjunkies.net/2012/08/my-lll-rejection-letter.html

The LLLC based their response on their policy that men cannot be leaders:

4.14 MEN AS LEADERS

Since an LLLC Leader is a mother who has breastfed a baby, a man cannot become an LLLC Leader. (March 1994) 
The wording echoes LLLI policy:

Leader Eligibiiity – (second paragraph) Since an LLL Leader is a mother who has breastfed a baby, a man cannot become an LLL Leader.

But in an interview with TheStar.com, Fiona Audy, chair of the board of directors at LLLC, insisted that this decision wasn’t based on gender.

“This has made us all stop and think,” Audy said. “This is the first time in 55 years (of LLLC history) this question has come up. La Leche League is about supporting parents who wish to breastfeed their babies . . . and we don’t want to get drawn into a discussion about gender issues, which is not our focus. This is not about gender identity or (Trevor’s) choices in his gender.”

So, what is the issue?  Is it because of their stance on using donated breastmilk:

from the rejection letter, LLLI policy: “A Leader shall never initiate the suggestion of an informal milk-donation arrangement or act as an intermediary in such a situation. If a mother wishes to discuss these options – which may include donating expressed milk, wet-nursing or cross-nursing – the Leader’s role is to provide information about the benefits and risks, as mentioned above, including the limitations of home sterilization of expressed breast milk.”

…Or maybe the issue is because he wanted to start a LGBTQ group…

“I think that the group that you envisage would work better not as an LLL Group because its scope is beyond breastfeeding and LLL is concerned specifically with breastfeeding. Other topics may come up at meetings as they relate to breastfeeding, but we do not, for example, recommend any particular method of or setting for childbirth, sleeping arrangements, diet or educational philosophy and (as noted above) we could not recommend using donated milk.”

It doesn’t matter what their reasons are…I think it’s terrible that they are refusing someone who is an excellent role model.  I think it would be in LLLI best interests to start reevaluating their current policies and see if they need to change with the times.  They have been an influential organization for 56 years, but children are no longer being raised by just mothers or mothers and fathers.  Many LGBTQ families are now raising children and they need support, too.  Everyone is told that “breast is best”, now let’s help them give their children that liquid gold!

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One Response to Transgendered breastfeeding father rejected as a lactation coach by LLL Canada.

  1. Barbara says:

    Because Trevor’s experiences lie outside LLL’s concept of a “normal” breastfeeding experience, I understand why Trevor’s application was rejected. If I understand the leadership requirements correctly, LLL would also reject applications from mothers who had exclusively pumped. Furthermore, allowing Trevor to become a Leader would contravene LLL’s rule on informal sharing of milk. That said, I do believe that Trevor’s experience and enthusiasm make Trevor an excellent role model for parents in Trevor’s position. In a society that pigeonholes people into “male” and “female,” those who identify as transgendered (or any gender identity other than male/female) face potentially overwhelming misunderstanding and discrimination in virtually every aspect of their lives – especially in creating families. I hope there is a well publicized and easily accessible support organization for LGBTQ parents through which Trevor can share Trevor’s experiences; if there isn’t, I hope Trevor will start one. Until society realizes that love, not gender or number, is what defines a family, nontraditional families will have an uphill struggle. Fiona Audy’s comment about “choices” of gender exemplifies the prejudices transgendered people face. Gender identity is not a choice: the only choice is whether to embrace one’s gender (or lack thereof) or deny one’s self. Thank you, Trevor, for showing us how even biological sex roles can be challenged and overcome.

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