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.