CDC accused of ignoring science with ‘chestfeeding’ advice for transgender parents

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s reputation for impartial, science-based health advice took another hit with the release of tips on how male-to-female transgender parents can “chestfeed” their babies.

The CDC’s website page on breast surgery includes the question: “Can transgender parents who have had breast surgery breastfeed or chestfeed their infants?” The center’s answer? “Yes.”

“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 said. “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.”

Transgender parents seeking to breastfeed may need help with “Maximizing milk production,” “Supplementing with donor human milk or formula,” and “Medication to induce lactation or avoiding medications that inhibit lactation,” according to the CDC.

Critics on the right accused the center of seeking to appease the transgender lobby by promoting medically inaccurate information, arguing that biological males cannot nurse babies no matter how they identify.

“Biden’s #CDC now issuing guidance on how ‘men’ can ‘chestfeed,’” tweeted Texas state Rep. Brian Harrison. “The only ‘science’ they’re following is political science.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said, “President Biden’s policies risk the lives of children to advance the fantasies of confused adults.”

“How far will the Biden administration’s agenda go? If a president had proposed this just a decade ago, it would have prompted the use of Article 25,” said Mr. Perkins, referring to the U.S. Constitution’s procedures for replacing a president due to death, resignation or incapacitation.

The CDC linked to a 2020 Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine protocol that said there are “many anecdotal reports and one case report of a trans woman … successfully inducing lactation,” linking to a 2018 case report by two pro-transgender researchers.
The “Transgender Health” report found that a 30-year-old transgender woman on a regimen of domperidone, estradiol, progesterone and breast pumping was able to “achieve sufficient breast milk volume to be the sole source of nourishment for her child for six weeks.”

The report’s findings have been challenged by critics arguing that whatever “nipple discharge” was produced wasn’t nutritious breast milk. In addition, the Food and Drug Administration warned nursing mothers against using domperidone to induce milk production in 2004.

The guidance came with the CDC already under attack for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including working with teachers unions on its 2021 school reopening policy; flip-flopping on masking; and initially overstating vaccine efficacy.

“No greater definition of woke than the CDC telling men how to chestfeed kids,” tweeted Oklahoma state Superintendent Ryan Walters. “They’ve got a great track record of ‘science’ based medical recommendations.”

The pushback over the CDC’s guidance comes amid an uproar over a photo posted July 2 by British transgender woman Mika Minio-Paluello, a policy officer for the Trades Union Congress, “breastfeeding” a baby and tweeting that “trans women can breastfeed, and I did breastfeed my child.”

“In the end, I only breastfed my child for a few weeks,” she tweeted. “I then had to stop because I had a cancer relapse and didn’t want to poison my child.”

Critics followed up by posting photos pulled from Instagram that show a masked person identified as Ms. Minio-Paluello demonstrating how to use “nipple clamps” bought at a sex store, spurring accusations that “chestfeeding” is part of a sexual fetish.

“How can any sane human being see this man posing with this child, obviously sucking on his nipple, now seeing what he engages in privately, and not see this baby as an erotic prop for this man with a sick fetish?” asked NCAA All-American swimmer Riley Gaines in a July 4 post. “It is sexual abuse of a child, bottom line.”

On its Health Equity Considerations page, the CDC states that “Transgender and nonbinary-gendered individuals may give birth and breastfeed or feed at the chest (chestfeed).”

“An individual does not need to have given birth to breastfeed or chestfeed,” the CDC states.

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