The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is being criticized for material instructing transgender and non-binary people on how to “chestfeed” their infants.
In a section titled “Health Equity” found within the CDC’s “Infant and Young Child Feeding Toolkit,” the health organization uses the term “chestfeed” when referring to transgender and non-binary people caring for infants.
“Transgender and nonbinary-gendered individuals may give birth and breastfeed or feed at the chest (chestfeed). The gender identity or expression of transgender individuals is different from their sex at birth. The gender identity of nonbinary-gendered individuals does not fit neatly into either man or woman,” it says.
“An individual does not need to have given birth to breastfeed or chestfeed,” it adds. “Some families may have other preferred terminology for how they feed their babies, such as nursing, chestfeeding, or bodyfeeding.”
In the CDC’s “Breastfeeding” section, the organization once again mentions “chestfeeding” for people who have undergone some kind of breast surgery.
The CDC also addresses the question, “Can transgender parents who have had breast surgery breastfeed or chestfeed their infants?”
“Some transgender parents who have had breast/top surgery may wish to breastfeed, or chestfeed (a term used by some transgender and non-binary parents), their infants” the website says. “Healthcare providers working with these families should be familiar with medical, emotional, and social aspects of gender transitions to provide optimal family-centered care and meet the nutritional needs of the infant.”
The section elaborated that such parents can work to maximize their milk production supplementing it with “pasteurized donor human milk or formula, medication to induce lactation or avoiding medications that inhibit lactation, suppressing lactation (for those choosing not to breastfeed or chestfeed).”
The Daily Mail quoted several experts who criticized the CDC’s instruction for men who produce their own milk through the use of hormone drugs. The FDA reportedly said that such drugs can “pass into breast milk in small amounts and can sometimes give babies an irregular heartbeat as a result.”
“The CDC has a responsibility to talk about the health risks, but they have been derelict in doing that,” said Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.
“We have no idea what the long-term effects on the child will be,” added Orient.
New York-based physician Dr. Stuart Fischer said the field of men producing breast milk is far too new.
“If it’s been tested a handful of times, how would we know the long-range effect? The short-term is one thing, but the long-term in terms of physical and mental illness,” said Fischer. “It’s an emerging field, to put it mildly.”