Chestfeeding with PRIDE 🌈

June is here and I am excited to celebrate Pride! This month you’ll notice tons of Pride Parades and other celebrations taking place across the nation. There is a rich meaning behind the need to celebrate for a month, however, it does not mean that injustice has disappeared. The ongoing pursuit for justice and equality continues every month of the year and throughout June. I urge you to learn more about the history of Pride and the significance of it being celebrated in June. In true Maziwa Tribe fashion you’ll find resources below along with links to definitions throughout this post for further reading.

Language is very important. You’ll notice that the terms breastfeeding and chestfeeding are utilized interchangeably and often within the same sentence throughout this space. This is a very deliberate action that speaks to the value that I place upon providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive space. I look to every person to let me know what works best for them because people know themselves better than I do. I respond by respecting their response without question or judgment. I personally utilize breastfeeding when describing my journey and I have yet to be met with opposition. Why can’t the same grace be extended to those who utilize different terminology to describe what is personal to them (this is indeed a rhetorical question)? There is usually lots of dialogue surrounding how one will feed their newborn/infant regardless of the method or term used to describe it. Making a big deal about personal preferences surrounding terminology adds unnecessary stress to a critical time that can present its own set of challenges for many individuals and their families. Both words are relatively similar, however, one word is more inclusive. Let’s explore why.

Chestfeeding is a term used by many transmasculine and non-binary parents to describe how they feed and nurture their children from their bodies. Some prefer the term nursing instead, while others prefer breastfeeding… 

La Leche League Canada and USA

The term breastfeeding is not the chosen word for some because it may not align with ones identity or how they view their anatomy. Consider a transgender (definition) man who has undergone top surgery (definition) or a non-binary (definition) person. Both individuals may feel more comfortable utilizing a term that is gender neutral that aligns with their identity. Lets also consider a cisgender (definition) woman who may have endured trauma and chooses to utilize another term to describe that part of her body. For some it may be just a word; for others the terminology opens the door to a more complex dynamic. Simply put, there are a variety of reasons why one may choose to use chestfeeding to describe their experience. It is no one’s business why a person may prefer one term over another. Consider it a privilege if you do not have to consider any of the above experiences or give much thought to the term used to describe your journey. In other words, check your privilege! It is essential to recognize that people have a variety of experiences that may differ from yours. Imploring empathy allows one to shift to a space that honors and respects how others have chosen to identify themselves, their body and their experiences.

In summary, words and language have major impact on individuals and society as a whole. Both have the capacity to do a variety of things—support, uplift, demean, build, destroy and the list goes on. Supporting people and affirming who they are is the first step in creating a safe and inviting space. If you have questions about the best word to utilize… just ask the person! Oh and Happy Pride Month! 🌈

Until Next Time,

💙 Salimah

Peace, Love & Breastmilk™

Resources

Stonewall Riots: The Beginning of the LGBT Movement (dated 6/22/09)

1969: The Stonewall Uprising

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Position Statement and Guideline: Infant Feeding and Lactation Related Language and Gender

Transgender & Non-Binary Parents – La Leche League

Transgender parents and chest/breastfeeding – KellyMom

Sex and Gender Inclusiveness in Lactation Research

Providing Affirmative Care for Patients with Non-binary Gender Identities

The Importance of Inclusive Language and the LGBTQ Community – Center on Halsted

Glossary of Terms – Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

Gender Unicorn – Trans Student Educational Resources

The Maziwa Tribe blog does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Content from Maziwa Tribe’s blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this blog is intended for general consumer understanding. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please contact your family doctor or other medical professional to obtain medical advice.

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