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Transmasculine reproduction is when an individual with a masculine gender identity, who was born with biologically female reproductive organs, conceives and births a child. Transmasculine individuals were assigned female at birth, but identify more on the male side of the gender spectrum than on the female side. These individuals may identify with some stereotypically masculine behaviors and gender performances, but may not necessarily identify with all aspects of masculinity or refer to themselves as “a man”. They are also born with mammary glands and milk ducts, so in most cases it is also possible for them to breastfeed or “chest feed” their children even if they have had their breast surgically removed. Transmasculine reproduction is a matter of sexual and reproductive health, but transmasculine individuals commonly deal with lack of cooperation from health care professionals when attempting to seek medical attention for stereotypically “woman’s health issues”.
Transmasculine individuals have several terms they use to describe the act of feeding their children with their bodies natural lactation. Some commonly used terms include chestfeeding, breastfeeding, nursing, feeding, and mammal feeding. Chestfeeding is a term that can be used by both cisgender and transgender parents to describe feeding their baby, since it is not gender exclusive. The term breastfeeding can cause feelings of gender dysphoria among transgender men. Gender dysphoria is the emotional and psychological distress a person experiences when their gender identity does not aligned with their biological sex, and it can cause extreme anxiety, stress, and depression for those who experience it. Referring to transmasculine people’s chest as breasts can some trigger this dysphoria, which is why gender neutral terms are often preferred. Gender dysphoria can also come to transmasculine individuals through the action of holding their baby to their chest to nurse, since it is a traditionally female action.
Although both men and women are born with breasts, the presence of grown breasts on a transgender individual assigned female at birth can lead them to feel extreme discomfort in how their body aligns with their gender identity. It is a common choice for transgender men to have bilateral mastectomies or “chest surgery” due to the gender dysphoria surrounding their breasts. After a transmasculine individual has undergone a bilateral mastectomy their female breasts are no longer present, but they still have some mammary tissue and the ability to lactate. It is not always easy for transgender men to lactate after chest surgery, but with the help of lactation nurses the option is available for those who feel comfortable doing so. Chestfeeding is a personal choice made by some, but not all transmasculine parents and it is just one aspect of transmasculine reproduction.
Sexual and reproductive health care
Even though transmasculine individuals do not identify as women, they still need to screened for the same sexual and reproductive health problems covered in women’s health as long as they have biologically female organs. Most transmasculine individuals are at risk for women’s heath problems like cervical, ovarian, and uterine cancers, unless they have their female organs removed as a part of their transition. Health care providers are not always aware of the necessity for transmasculine people to be tested for women’s health problems. There have been many instances of providers discriminating against trans individuals either by refusing service and treatment or being verbally abusive. Doctors and health care providers should be aware of the needs of patients so they can properly treat them while respecting their gender identity so as to not create further gender dysmorphia. Clinical management of transmasculine patients can be complicated by a lack of knowledge about treatments which may be unfamiliar to physicians and failure to accommodate these patients within healthcare systems leads to deficient health policy.
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