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Dear La Leche League,As the world's most important breastfeeding support organization, it is vital that you include all kinds of breastfeeding families. Regardless of any other issues, LLL should support breastfeeding relationships. I was very disappointed to hear that a transgender dad in Canada was told not to apply for leadership because of his gender identity.To note that LLL is open to helping anyone who wants to breastfeed is excellent, but not enough. LGBTQ individuals, which includes those who are transgender, should be able to participate in the organization at any level, so long as they meet appropriate requirements. Many families today do not fit the traditional model of one mother and one father, yet this does not prevent them from "mothering" and breastfeeding their babies and children in the most nurturing of ways. What all La Leche League leaders should have in common is their experience of parenting through breastfeeding.I applaud La Leche League for committing itself to revisiting its policies regarding transgender leader applicants. I urge you to find a way to interpret LLL philosophy broadly and to include qualified leader applicants regardless of their gender identity. This would bring your organization in line with progressive human rights codes. It would send a wonderful message to the LGBTQ community as well as other minorities and all kinds of parents that they are not only welcome but truly included – and that LLL is simply about babies getting the milk and breastfeeding relationships they deserve.Thank you for supporting an inclusive vision of breastfeeding families.
You can also call LLLI at 1-800-525-3243 or mail La Leche League International, 957 N. Plum Grove Road, Schaumburg, IL 60173 USA. Their Executive Director, Barbara Emanuel may be reached at ed(at)llli.org. Please feel free to send a copy via email to me at milkjunkies(at)ymail.com.
Meanwhile, Breastfeeding USA clarified that it is explicitly inclusive of transgender breastfeeding counselors. Breastfeeding USA wrote in a post in our Facebook group, Birthing and Breastfeeding Transmen and Allies:
"Each application for Breastfeeding USA Counselor is reviewed by a team, and the applicant's qualifications are evaluated on a case by case basis within our centralized education system. Without explicit knowledge of one's personal experiences, or expressed permission from that individual, we cannot comment further about someone's eligibility.
"We know that Trevor is Canadian, and at this time Breastfeeding USA is not prepared to accredit individuals outside the confines and laws of the US, US territories and commonwealths, or US military installations. We are not an international organization.
"Breastfeeding USA is committed to the mission: to provide evidence-based breastfeeding information and support, and to promote breastfeeding as the biological and cultural norm. As a membership organization, the voting members can and do influence policies. Breastfeeding USA remains open to being an evolving, inclusive, diverse and modern organization. Breastfeeding USA would consider a trans parent's application without prejudice."
It is awesome to see these organizations working to ensure that their policies are welcoming toward queer families. If La Leche League does decide to accept transgender leaders, this will send a wonderful message not only to the LGBTQ community but to other minorities and all kinds of parents that they are valued equally in their breastfeeding journeys – that it's about babies getting the milk and breastfeeding relationships they deserve.