Trevor MacDonald, a 31-year-old transgender man from Manitoba, Canada, gave birth to two children — and breastfed both of them.
The trans man began blogging about his experience with breastfeeding, which has allowed him to become a public advocate for trans parents across the globe.
MacDonald began transitioning in his early 20s, reports The Guardian. He changed his name and started taking testosterone, and a year later, he had chest surgery.
He and his partner then started thinking about starting a family together. But they knew that adopting a child as a gay man and transgender man may be difficult. MacDonald never had a hysterectomy, though, so the pair decided to conceive a child.
Pregnancy never felt gendered to MacDonald, though he found himself being called a “mum” and “she.” Yet, he worried that breastfeeding would feel more gendered. “I thought, am I going to be able to do that, or am I going to experience a lot of gender dysphoria?” MacDonald told The Guardian.
But he was able to breastfeed, and even enjoyed it. MacDonald started blogging about his experience with breastfeeding, and wrote a memoir called “Where’s the mother? Stories from a Transgender Dad,” and found himself receiving questions from transgender people across the world who also wanted to start a family.
MacDonald started working with a research team on a number of papers funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to draw parallels between the experiences of 22 transgender men from around the globe as they went through pregnancy, birth and infant feeding.
The research found that of the nine men in the study who had chest surgery before becoming pregnant, none of them spoke with their doctors about breastfeeding beforehand. And one actively withheld his desire to have children from his doctor.
“There is this assumption that goes along with the ‘born in the wrong body’ narrative, that if you are a trans guy you would want a hysterectomy and never use your body to carry a pregnancy,” MacDonald said.
But “a baby doesn’t know what your pronouns are,” according to MacDonald. And so, the study is also investigating the barriers transgender parents face in dealing with healthcare systems.
MacDonald told The Guardian that he hopes sharing his own experiences, and participating in the research project, will help promote discussion of these issues affecting trans families.
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