In 2014, La Leche League International changed its policy about the eligibility of Leader (volunteer) Applicants to be inclusive of all gender identities. As a result of the rule change, I was able to apply, and I went through La Leche League Canada’s (LLLC) thorough and fantastic training, becoming accredited as a Leader two weeks ago. I am grateful to the Leader who supported me and spent many hours answering my questions, and to the Leader at the Accreditation Department who guided me with patience and kindness and kept me on track.
LLL’s updated policy came in advance of federal legislation proposed by the Government of Canada to protect transgender Canadians from discrimination. This quote from a message sent by LLLC to its Leaders shows the confident position La Leche League has taken on this issue (reprinted here with permission):
“We recognize that any breastfeeding parent, regardless of whether they self-identify as a mother or father, should be - and is now - welcome to investigate LLL Leadership. There are other prerequisites that a potential Leader needs to satisfy, but being a woman isn't one of them.”
La Leche League is the world’s best breastfeeding peer support organization – this was the reason I wanted to become a Leader when I first asked about applying, and it is why I am so proud to join other Leaders in serving breastfeeding families. Leaders assist more than 20,000 families across Canada each year, using carefully compiled resources.
I feel I truly found my community when I found La Leche League. LLL is one place where I know I will be accepted with my breastfeeding toddler and where my nursing relationship with my child will always be valued. In fact, I believe I have felt more criticism around nursing an “older”* child in public than for nursing as a man. And that really speaks to why we still desperately need LLL, and why it was founded sixty years ago. We need to continue sharing information and resources around breastfeeding and the breastfeeding relationship with those who come in search of support in the context of a culture that continues to marginalize breastfeeding.
* “older” is in quotes, because we are talking here about anyone over the age of one. But let’s face it: two- and three-year-olds are simply not “older”!