Need advice from transgendered parents - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-28-2010, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't even really know where to begin here...My dh and one of our dearest friends(we'll call him Dave) have had massive falling out and I'm at a loss as to what to do.

Dave, who was born biologically female came out as transgendered male about a year ago. My dh and I have supported his decision wholeheartedly from the start. Then shortly after he came out, he discovered he was pregnant. We were surprised, but happy for him. Over the months of the pregnancy we've had lots of discussions, including whether or not Dave would breastfeed. Throughout the entire pregnancy, he was adamant that he would breastfeed, regardless of being uncomfortable with his breasts. My dh and I, being big advocates for breastfeeding where very happy to hear this.

Dave gave birth yesterday and is ecstatic to be a new daddy. When I talked to him this morning I asked how the bfing was going and he said he has decided not to breastfeed. He said he thought it would be better to have "a formula fed baby and a happy daddy than a breastfed baby and a depressed daddy." Admittedly, I was terribly disappointed, but I am supporting his decision. My dh is not. He is angry and feels that Dave is putting his comfort and desires over the health of his baby. (My dh was raised in a family of militant breastfeeders and refuses to try to understand Dave's point of view.) So now they are at odds with one another. My dh is refusing to speak to him and Dave is angry and hurt by my dh's behavior.

I don't want to see their friendship dissolve like this. They've always been close, but I really don't know what to do. Anyone have any advice on how I can help my dh understand? I really am at a loss here...


I do want to add, in my dh's defense, this is very unusual behavior for him. He has been under an extreme amount of stress lately. We've had some nasty setbacks financially and his project at work has been one massive headache after another. (We were supposed to be on vacation this week, for the first time in 3 years, but had to cancel it due to yet another issue with his job.) I'm hoping that this is just a emotional knee-jerk reaction due to all the piles of stress he's under and that after he's had some time to think about it he'll come to his senses.

Happily married to the love of my life and proud AP, cosleeping, breastfeeding, unschooling, babywearing mommy to The Great Zozilla
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Old 06-29-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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I'm sorry no one has responded to you yet, and I don't really have anything helpful to say. I can sympathize with everyone's perspective in your situation but I don't really have any answers.

Are your husband and Dave able to talk about their feelings together and try to understand each other better?

How would Dave feel about pumping? Or at least finding a way to get his baby some breastmilk when the baby is really young, like breastfeeding or pumping or finding someone willing to donate?

I hope you're able to resolve the situation, and I hope someone else is able to offer more insight or ideas.
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Old 06-29-2010, 05:51 PM
 
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It might help for you to talk to your DH and ask him to think about if his difficulty is more about the gender piece or the not-breastfeeding piece. He might find that he would have just as much trouble with, for example, another friend who just had a baby and is choosing not to try to breastfeed. At least thinking about what the problem may be will have him thinking about it.. and that may just be all he's capable of doing right now.

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Old 06-29-2010, 08:56 PM
 
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How would your DH feel about someone who couldn't breastfeed because they had to take medication to keep functioning? Because it sounds like he thinks your friend is trying to avoid discomfort, when Dave is likely trying to avoid a situation that is genuinely harmful to him.

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Old 06-29-2010, 09:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Airmide_m-I had not thought of suggesting finding someone to donate, thanks for the idea! I talked with Dave about the possibility of pumping, but he feels that he needs to reclaim his masculine physique asap. As soon as he is able he will start binding his breasts again.

Unfortunately, my dh is not ready to talk to Dave yet, but he is opening up to me about it now, which is a step forward.

Osker- Dh and I had a long discussion about the situation. It basically boils down to the breastfeeding issue. He comes from a long line of trailblazing breastfeeders. His grandmother completely ignored her pediatrician's protests that formula was best and breastfed all her children until they weaned themselves. Something that was practically unheard of in the 1950s. Then his mom, after he was born 2 1/2 months early, set a precedent in the neonatal ward by insisting that my dh be fed only breastmilk and went out and bought a mini refrigerator to keep it in at the hospital (because they had no way of keeping it cold.)

That's pretty much where he's coming from. He strongly believes, that barring medical necessity, an infant should be exclusively breastfed. He simply cannot understand why someone who has the capability to bf would deny their child its benefits.

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Old 06-29-2010, 10:57 PM
 
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In terms of donations--perhaps Dave could contact a La Leche League? Or find a local Attachment Parenting group? I know the group I'm on has tons of women with extra expressed milk in their freezer that they might be willing to share some of. A milk bank might be too expensive, given his single daddy status.

Good luck to all of you.
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Old 06-29-2010, 11:36 PM
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I am not a transgendered parent, so take my thoughts FWIW.

Don't judge the new daddy for not breastfeeding. I don't mean that your post is judgmental or that is your intent - I do sense your good intent.

Just support him. I understand how vital breast milk is to babies. But his reality is very different from you, or your DH's. I kind of can't imagine how tramatic it would be to give birth, let alone breastfeed, as a man, and then have other's expectations thrown into the mix.

This is really quite personal. It's hard when you're out or transgendered, and you're being "different" WRT to very personal, sexual issues is out there for all to see.

Try to understand what that must feel like for him. I dig the suggestion of donor milk.

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Old 06-30-2010, 12:08 AM
 
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I would say that formula is a medical necessity for the family, though. It isn't about Dave deciding he doesn't "want" to breastfeed. it is about Dave needing to return to his proper gender to prevent major mental health issues. If a mother with significant mental health issues needed a medication that was contraindicated for breastfeeding, it would be a similar situation.

Your husband can't judge the medical necessity of this situation...
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Old 06-30-2010, 12:17 AM
 
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OP, you need to gently encourage your DH to pull his head out of his ass. It doesn't matter one tiny iota why Dave does or does not want to breastfeed. This year has probably been extremely emotionally trying for him as it is being faced with living with extreme proof of his gender dysphoria.

If he cares that much, I would invite him to lactate for the baby. Otherwise, he needs to be a supportive friend or mhob.
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Old 06-30-2010, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post
I would say that formula is a medical necessity for the family, though. It isn't about Dave deciding he doesn't "want" to breastfeed. it is about Dave needing to return to his proper gender to prevent major mental health issues.
I agree. Mental health and medical health are not separate, but two sides of the same coin. Or more accurately they are intertwined in a symbiotic relationship, one depending on the other.

Dave is not breastfeeding because he doesn't want to, he really does and is disappointed that he can't. But he NEEDS to return his life back to normal. He spent the last 9 months living as a man, but with a body that is the epitome of womanhood. The thought of continuing on like that depresses him severely. And that is neither healthy for the father or the child.

Happily married to the love of my life and proud AP, cosleeping, breastfeeding, unschooling, babywearing mommy to The Great Zozilla
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Old 06-30-2010, 02:55 PM
 
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we may all agree that bfing is the best thing for babies but the bottom line is that it isn't our decision to make for dave. he has made a different choice and other people need to respect that regardless of their opinions on the matter. it is nobody's place to impose our values on other people no matter how 'right' we think we are.

especially in the glbt community, it is important that we let other people live their lives as they see fit because way too many people have told us we are not doing it 'right' according to their values.

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Old 06-30-2010, 04:10 PM
 
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I hesitate to write, I'm not trans. But I did have a MTF trans friend so I know firsthand how much of a struggle it is for many (most, I'd say) of us to really get away from the idea that our friends are "really" female (or male, in my friend's case). I knew my friend from when she was a male, and honestly I had no idea that she felt female until she came out as a female. (As it happens, she is attracted to women, so at the time we all just considered her one of the straight-but-not-narrow folks - like me).

Old pronouns die hard. And even if you always knew your friend as male from the beginning (which you and your DH didn’t), just KNOWING that he is trans can make it hard for many of us folks raised in a binary world, to stop thinking "well, he is REALLY a woman." Like he's just pretending. This must be the absolute core issue any trans person must go though.

Because (as I admittedly can just barely, feebly grasp) a trans person feels like their BODY is just pretending. So Dave looks down at his breasts and goes, what the hell are those? What are they doing there? Just like if your DH woke up one morning and found he grew a pair himself.

The thing I had trouble with was accepting the surgery, myself. I was fine that my MTF friend wanted to wear skirts and use gestures and mannerisms and vocal tones that looked and sounded female. She's no outrageous drag queen, she pulls it off pretty well. I was ok switching to her female name, and while it was a struggle, I managed to switch pronouns fairly consistently even in my head. I was even ok with the hormones that caused her to grow some boobs. But surgery to cut (and I switch pronouns here on purpose) his stuff off??

I honestly felt this was just unhealthy. Extreme cosmetic surgery. It's her body, she should love it and not go around cutting parts off. To be fair, I still have these feelings but I also recognize now there's more to it. I realized that the extremity of the action (the surgery) reflects how serious this is. Nobody just goes around lopping off their parts for fun (and, wow, especially THOSE parts, oy!). This isn't fun and games. This is not pretending.

I hope I'm making some sense. I know it’s easy to say “well he’s got breasts, he should use them.” That would be ideal from my point of view as well. But these breasts aren’t like yours or mine. I once brought up the idea of men lactating to DH when I read about it, and even though he is open-minded, his reaction was “uh, hell no.” And his reaction isn’t surprising, either. Most men would say hell no. I don’t claim to fully grasp the reasons why they feel that way, but they do. Dave might not be exactly like other men but the fact that we expected him to feel differently than other men reveals our bias (that he is “really” a woman).

I have noticed that chromosomal males spend a lot of effort “proving” to themselves and others they are men. Imagine how it would be a for a man whose maleness is actually doubted. Ask your DH how he would feel if he were expected to lactate. As a man, not imagining that he was you.

I’m totally pro-breastfeeding and I too wish that your friend Dave was able to do it. But I can see that this is a minefield. Let’s not expect more from him than we do from our woman friends who couldn’t make it work.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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Old 06-30-2010, 04:11 PM
 
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* Double post, sorry.

Homeschooling mama to 6 year old DD.

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Old 06-30-2010, 08:49 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhiandmoi View Post
OP, you need to gently encourage your DH to pull his head out of his ass. It doesn't matter one tiny iota why Dave does or does not want to breastfeed. This year has probably been extremely emotionally trying for him as it is being faced with living with extreme proof of his gender dysphoria.

If he cares that much, I would invite him to lactate for the baby. Otherwise, he needs to be a supportive friend or mhob.
My thoughts exactly.

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