LLL rejects transgender dad's as leader

Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
LLL rejects transgender dad's as leader
11
Mon, 08-20-2012 - 4:06pm

What do you think? Should they have let him become a LLL leader?

Breastfeeding group rejects transgender dad's leadership bid

Transgender father Trevor MacDonald, who breastfeeds his son with the help of a supplemental feeding tube, is reeling after a rejection from the motherhood support group that helped him overcome his challenges.

La Leche League Canada (LLLC) told the Winnipeg man that he cannot become a group leader because he identifies as a father, quelling his ambitions to guide other transgender members and mothers who do not produce enough milk.

MacDonald, who has undergone chest reduction surgery, initially struggled to breastfeed his child. He credits the LLLC with providing him the support and resources he needed to nurse.

The stay-at-home dad has trouble lactating and supplements his own milk with donated breast milk, which is fed to his baby through a tube.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/08/20/trevor-macdonald-breastfeed.html

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Mon, 08-20-2012 - 9:31pm
I am in a very small minority of posters on this board who does not call pumping "breastfeeding". To most posters I'm sure that seems funny/odd. Similarly, from what I understand, LLLI has some funny/odd quirks of its own. While they welcome the opportunity to help anyone breastfeed, pump, use an SNS, or supplement with formula, they have some strict guidelines about qualifying to be a Leader. IME, mostly online, it seems that different areas enforce the guidelines somewhat differently. I didn't click the link and I don't know what aspect of this dad's experience triggered the rejection, it could be gender, or length of breastfeeding experience, or some other bit. It could also be something that another area would not be concerned about. Becoming accredited by LLLI is a fairly elaborate process and I would guess that the rejection was anything but simple or straight forward. La Leche League has been around long enough to weather all kinds of social change storms such as abortion and working outside the home. To me, this sounds like a complex issue.
Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Mon, 08-20-2012 - 10:26pm

LLLC responded by thanking MacDonald for his interest and unique contributions to the group, but dismissed his request.

“[T]he roles of mothers and fathers are not interchangeable,” a spokesperson for the organization replied. “Since an LLLC Leader is a mother who has breastfed a baby, a man cannot become an LLLC Leader.”

The group also suggested some women would not be comfortable working with a male leader, that the organization does not “accredit specialty Leaders” 

Avatar for pterodactyl
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-18-2003
Thu, 08-23-2012 - 3:02pm
It's not like the distinction comes up that often, but I always perceived LLL as a group for breastfeeders, rather tahn a group for mothers specifically.
Community Leader
Registered: 10-01-2010
Thu, 08-23-2012 - 6:56pm

Good to see you here! It's been a while, ahsn'tit?

Avatar for pterodactyl
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-18-2003
Thu, 08-23-2012 - 8:54pm
Thanks! Yes, it's been a while. Good to "see" you too!
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 08-25-2012 - 7:09pm

More warm welcome backs from Nisu!

Mothering through breastfeeding is the most natural and effective way of understanding and satisfying the needs of the baby.

I've quoted LLLI's first concept. I think it is carefully worded and points out that La Leche League's focus is on parenting, not just breastfeeding. I think it is the focus on a particular mothering style which makes LLL stand apart from other breastfeeding support organizaions.

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 8:46pm

The letter he received:


Firstly I want to thank you for your interest in leadership, in sharing your experience with mothers and in expanding the reach of LLL in the community. Your contribution to the Group is clearly greatly valued. Thank you also for your patience while I consulted with members of the Boards of La Leche League Canada (LLLC) and La Leche League International (LLLI).Our policies do preclude men from becoming Leaders. LLLC Policy states:

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

LLLI's policies and mission statement consistently speak of Leaders as mothers, giving mother-to-mother support.

There are also Concept Policy Statements which include the mother/baby relationship and the father's role. The Concept Policy Statement on the father's role speaks of "... understanding of the father's role, not as a mother substitute, but as a unique figure in the baby's life."

You told me that you do not identify as a mother. You are your baby's father. According to LLL philosophy the roles of mothers and fathers are not interchangeable. I think that this would make it difficult for you to represent LLL philosophy. You acknowledge that some women may not be comfortable working with a male Leader. A Leader needs to be able to help all women interested in breastfeeding. Fathers are able to help in other ways, for example an informed LLL father who is supportive of LLL philosophy might present a fathers' meeting.

I'd also like to share with you some of the wording of LLLI's policy on donated milk:

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.

This would mean that a La Leche League Leader would be able to share information about your experience with another mother, but as a Leader youwould not be free to initiate or recommend this suggestion. If you wanted to share this experience with others, another way of helping, other than LLL leadership could be a better fit for you.

 
I would also like to address your interest in leading an LGBT LLL meeting. I think that it is important for you to know that we do not accredit specialty Leaders. So for example Leaders often say that they need a working mother as a Leader for their Group because she can relate to the mothers in the population the Group serves - I would disagree - what qualifies a Leader to relate to those mothers is her experience of mothering, not her experience of separation. Similarly in this case it is the experience of mothering through breastfeeding which qualifies a Leader to help others. Any Leader can help anyone who is interested in breastfeeding. LLL has accredited a number of lesbian mothers as Leaders. They lead Groups for all mothers. 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. There is definitely a place for groups with a different focus, such as attachment parenting groups, but these are not LLL Groups. Thanks for sharing information on your Facebook group. This is the kind of thing that would definitely work better not as an LLL affiliated Group, since there are guidelines on how LLL Facebook groups can be run.

 
One thing you said which I must respond to is that "LLL now supports working mothers, women breastfeeding after reduction surgery, women who are inducing lactation, single mothers, and lesbian families". I wondered if you think that this is new - that we did not support them before. In fact we have always supported all of these mothers. We support all women interested in breastfeeding. I think there may be confusion between whom we support and who can be a Leader. You mention "LLL's conservative, Christian roots" as if LLL has moved away from its roots. In my view LLL's roots are in our philosophy which has not changed and has not needed to change in order for us to accept and help all mothers, irrespective of their background. ALthough LLL was founded by seven women who attended the same Roman Catholic group and hatched the idea that became LLLI at a church picnic, they never ascribed a religious sponsorship to LLLI, never required any religious affiliation, whether Catholic, Christian or other. The mission, the philosophy, the concepts - those are the roots of LLLI and they are what you and I value so much about LLL.

 
I would welcome your comments or any questions you might have.

 
Thank you again for your interest in LLL and in helping others. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Mon, 08-27-2012 - 8:49pm
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Tue, 08-28-2012 - 4:09pm

To that end, I think LLL and let's face it, many groups, need to expand their conception of normal in light of a changing society.

I think LLL has done a fairly good job of addressing a changing society. Maybe they do not act quickly, but they always act thoughtfully, IMVHO.

To me it is clear that this issue is now on their radar and they are listening.