FAQ

To help explain some of the back story:

1. What does "transgender" mean? Different people have different definitions for this word. I'll tell you what it means for me. I was born with female body parts but have always felt I should be male. At age 22, I began the process of transitioning from female to male in order to be more comfortable. I started taking testosterone in order to lower my voice, grow facial hair, and have a more masculine distribution of body fat. I legally changed my first name. One year later I had male chest contouring surgery to remove some of my breast tissue in order to create a male-appearing chest. I chose not to have any "bottom" surgery.

2. If you changed your gender, then how could you get pregnant? Since I didn't have any bottom surgery (hysterectomy/phalloplasty), I retained my capacity to bear children. To become pregnant, I went off the testosterone I'd been taking and waited for my cycles to return. Voila.

3. Why didn't you want "bottom" surgery? It is terribly expensive, requires a lengthy recovery, involves considerable health risks, and, finally, the outcome of phalloplasty (creating a phallus) is often dubious at best. 

4. How did you know that getting pregnant would be safe for the baby after your transition? See the post, "Hormones."

5. Did you need fertility treatments to get pregnant? Nope! Again, see the post, "Hormones."

6. How do you think of yourself in terms of sexuality? Gay, transgender, male.

7. Do you prefer the term "chestfeeding" instead of "breastfeeding"? No, the word "breastfeeding" doesn't bother me. Both men and women have breast tissue and can, unfortunately, get breast cancer. We all have nipples and breasts, to a certain extent. Furthermore, breastfeeding is not about sex - it is about feeding a baby. It doesn't make me feel feminine or female to feed Jacob. I do also use the term nursing frequently though.

8. Why have you changed the names on the blog? I have decided to be a queer and breastfeeding activist, and that is my choice. I believe it is also my responsibility as a parent, however, to protect my son's privacy. We try to live with honesty and integrity - all our friends and family know that I am transgender and that I birthed our baby - but the internet is a whole different story. I do not want my writing to follow my child around for the rest of his life. He must be allowed to make his own choices. I use the pseudonyms "Jacob" for my son and "Ian" for my partner. My real name is Trevor, but I use MacDonald as a pseudonymous last name for myself.

9. What on earth is this at-breast supplementer thing that you're always talking about? For a detailed explanation on how to make and use a supplementer, see the post "Using an at-chest supplementer." Here's a brief explanation: I make a bit of breast milk for Jacob, but due to my chest surgery, I am not able to produce all the milk he needs. This is why I use the supplementer. It consists of a bottle containing supplement (in our case, donated breast milk) and a long, very narrow tube. This tube sits in the supplement and is threaded up through the bottle nipple. When I latch Jacob on to my own nipple, I place the tube right next to my nipple so that his mouth goes around both food sources at once. This way, when he sucks he draws some supplement up the tube at the same time as getting all the food I'm capable of making.

10 comments:

  1. I want to say, this blog is amazing and fascinating. I have a trans friend (FTM like you) , but he's planning on either not having kids or having their partners (female) carry the baby and breastfeed. :)

    Keep on keepin' on!!! I'm subscribing if you don't mind because you are amazing.

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  2. As a fellow FtM... how long were you undergoing hormone therapy... I have read that after a certain amount of time your reproductive organs begin to atrophy making pregnancy impossible even with the cessation of Testosterone therapy.

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    1. I wasn't on T all that long - only two years - but I've heard of people taking it for as long as 8 years and then being able to become pregnant. I'm guessing that there is no hard and fast rule on this. If you are hoping to carry a child, I wish you the best of luck!

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  3. Fascinating! And thank you for your courage to share your ongoing story. I wish you the best!

    Can you talk about what it was like to be pregnant? How did it affect your emotions as well as identity?

    I hope you're considering the idea of collaborating with other transgender folk to create a parenting guide. What a unique trail you are blazing. Am sure others would be grateful for the wisdom you glean along the way.

    Cheers!0

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  4. I just realized you may have already written about pregnancy earlier in your blog. Will scope.

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  5. Hi there, I'm a fellow transman but way too young to really know if I want to have kids. However, I DO know that if I ever do want to birth my own kids, I want them to have breast milk, preferably my own. I'd been under the impression top surgery made that impossible until I stumbled across this blog. I'm pretty big up top so I would really love to get surgery, but not at the expense of my kids' health. Which kind of top surgery did you have that enables you to still produce milk presently?

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    1. Hi there, sorry for my slow response to your question. I'm actually working on an article on this topic right now, but I'll give you a sneak preview. I was pretty small-chested before my surgery, so I was able to go with the concentric-circle surgical technique (Dr. Bowman in Vancouver). This style involves an incision around the areola (as opposed to the double incision with nipple grafts for larger-chested guys). I produce some milk but not enough to meet my baby's nutritional needs, so I supplement him using at an-breast supplementer and donated human milk. If you have a double incision style surgery, you might still be able to breastfeed if there is enough tissue remaining for your baby to latch. Remember that there is more to breastfeeding/chestfeeding than just milk - the relationship is incredibly important and beneficial too. This is definitely something to discuss in a consult with your surgeon, although many surgeons are not knowledgable about the effects of surgery on latch and milk production so it can be tricky.

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  6. This is such a great blog! Breastfeeding is something I've thought about but assumed that it wasn't possible after chest surgery, so it's really neat to hear that it was for you. I was wondering if you are able to take testosterone while nursing or if that affects the breast milk or lactation?

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    1. Hi! So glad you like the blog. I've been told that taking testosterone while breastfeeding would cause a significant decrease in milk supply. It would interfere with the hormones that are necessary for lactation. However, it would not prevent one from using at at-chest supplementer and having a breastfeeding relationship. Hope that helps!

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