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Transgender Men, Non-Binary People and Chestfeeding: An Interpretive Description Qualitative Study


Researcher bios and how their research backgrounds relate to this study

Dr. Erin Ziegler (she/her) is an assistant professor with the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing. She is a primary care nurse practitioner and lead of a gender-affirming clinic. Her research focuses on access and provision of primary health care services for transgender and non-binary people.

Purpose of this research project

Transgender men and non-binary people often encounter barriers when accessing support for chestfeeding and lactation following the birth of their baby, yet human milk feeding is important for the optimal health of their infants. Barriers include access to gender-affirming services and providers, and conflicts with their gender identity (Charter et al., 2018; Hoffkling et al., 2017; MacDonald et al., 2016). Transgender men have reported being less likely to seek support for chestfeeding and lactation due to past experiences of inappropriate and stigmatizing medical care (Charter et al., 2018; MacDonald et al., 2016). Gendering the process of chestfeeding by providers leads transmasculine individuals to avoid seeking support (MacDonald et al., 2016), impacting their decision on whether or not to engage in chestfeeding (Charter et al., 2018) and creating inequities in access to healthcare services. Despite these difficulties and systemic barriers, several factors contributed towards enabling trans men to chestfeed their infant, such as their individual support system, positive engagement with providers, and desire for attachment parenting (Hoffkling et al., 2017; MacDonald et al., 2016; Wolfe-Roubatis & Spatz, 2015).

The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of transgender men and non-binary people with chestfeeding or lactating and to identify care recommendations for service providers.

How this research will help LGBT2SQ people and communities

Understanding these experiences can provide service providers with increased understanding and awareness of the needs transgender men have when chestfeeding or lactating, and improve access to support for this vulnerable population.


This study will recruit 5-8 transgender men and 10-15 service providers from Ontario
Inclusion criteria for transgender male or non-binary participants - attempted to chestfeed or lactate; delivered a baby within the last 5 years. Service providers include any professional or paraprofessional who has provided lactation support to a transgender man within the last 5 years.
Must live in Ontario and speak English


Participants will receive a e-card for $25 upon completion of the interview

Mitigation measures

prior to the interview participants will be informed of their right to refuse to answer any questions, that they may pause the interview at any time and that they can withdraw at any time. All associated risks, risk management strategies and benefits are listed on the consent form. In the event that participants are in crisis during or following their interview they can reach out to the Distress center at 416-408-4357 or text 45645 or the Gerstein Crisis center at 416-929-5000

Promoting the Study

We are promoting our study on social media, at our university, Young Parents No Fixed Address (YPNFA) and we hope through RHO.

RainbowHealthOntario @RainbowHealthOn Nov 24

Thank you to all who attended #RHOInConvo! We were glad to see so many people who care about 2SLGBTQ health care. T……