La Leche League is an international nonprofit dedicated to supporting women who breastfeed, and recently it opened its doors to Trevor MacDonald, a Canadian transgender man who had retained his female reproductive organs and wanted to nurse his child. Despite the challenge of having little breast tissue, he successfully breastfed his son, thanks in part to the support he got from La Leche League.
However, when MacDonald said he wanted to give back and support the organization as a leader, LLL was suddenly not so welcoming, telling him that only women could hold leadership positions. But thanks to those who have advocated on MacDonald’s behalf, the organization has said it will revisit the policy:
Our organization is addressing and carefully considering a unique matter raised when a transgender individual, who has self-identified as a father, approached La Leche League Canada with a request to be considered for accreditation as a La Leche League Leader. A La Leche League Leader is a volunteer with specialized knowledge and training in providing mother-to-mother breastfeeding support.
To our knowledge, this topic has never arisen in the 56-year history of our organization. It is important that La Leche League International and its community thoughtfully consider the issues that are being raised and carefully examine its policies applicable to this matter. We are committed to considering all points of view. To that end, the La Leche League International Board of Directors will carefully review all facts and implications of this unprecedented subject. Our top priority — today and always — is to create policies and take actions that support our community of volunteers, members and supporters. We look forward to sharing the details about our review process and its outcome in due course.
The subject may be “unprecedented” — and stories like Trevor MacDonald’s may be few — but how society treats transgender parents is an important question to address. Unfortunately, the laws in many states require that people who are transgender undergo complete sexual reassignment surgery if they wish to have their gender recognized under law, for which they pay the price of fertility. Many people who are trans find the identity coherence they need without completing such surgeries, but that makes their gender no less authentic. The idea of a pregnant or breastfeeding man may still be a cultural oddity, but in many ways it represents a celebration of gender identity without the consequence of sterility. All trans people deserve the same right to raise a family, and should be supported, encouraged, and included in the role of parenting as any other parent would be.