An organization dedicated to motherhood advocacy is under fire after their United Kingdom’s branch announced that they were becoming more “inclusive” by inviting those who did not give birth, including trans men and women, to their support groups.
La Leche League, a group founded by a collective of American moms in 1956, has broadened their group to 89 counties. Among the countries attached to the global group in the United Kingdom, which is currently receiving backlash from critics who don’t agree with the branch’s choice to extend support to the trans community.
In a statement regarding trans women and men, the group wrote that they want to be more “inclusive” and support transgender men, who identify as male and non-binary parents but were born with female anatomy.
“Trans men, trans women, and non-binary individuals may choose to breastfeed or chestfeed their babies,” the group writes. “You do not need to have given birth to breastfeed or chestfeed, as we can also see in the experiences of those nursing adopted babies.”
The term “chestfeed” was used by the group out of respect for those who have gone through the transition phase. LLLGB (La Leche League Great Britain) also educates those committed to “chestfeed” on how to use hormones to “stimulate their milk supply,” according to The New York Post.
A former leader of the motherhood advocacy group was upset with the group’s recent decision and made a note of it on Mumsnet.
“I was a La Leche League leader for many years and am very upset to see how the organization 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. There is no evidence to say this is safe, only an anecdotal example of a case where a doctor in the US enabled this to happen using off label drugs.”
Another stated: “It is really depressing that a breastfeeding charity isn’t prioritizing breastfeeding. There’s so much guilt and shame around women who have a difficult time of it, and so much policing and judgment,” she said. “It is a particular female experience and it is not up for grabs.”
Despite the latest criticism, LLLGB’s chairwoman Helen Lloyd affirms that the policy of inclusion has been intact since 2017 but “remains at the discretion of their individual group leaders.”
“Most groups run more than one type of meeting, so they can help to make sure the people who need support can get it in an environment they feel comfortable,” Lloyd said.
The US branch, like the U.K., has written a statement on their website that informs readers that the group is “is committed to diversity and inclusion” and “supports all breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and human milk feeding families, inclusive of their race, ethnicity, immigration status, national origin, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, family structure, primary language, ability, or socioeconomic status.”
“We would not be in a position to challenge somebody’s gender presentation,” Lloyd said. “If someone is feeding a baby at their chest, we would not say ‘get out.’”
Lloyd also states that she is happy to make the group’s availability as broad 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,” she said. “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.”