Happy Black Breastfeeding Week! I felt like there are too few stories about Black Queer and Trans/Non gender conforming people who parent and even less about those who breastfeed. It’s a whole different ballgame for us. I want to share my story, but I need to be as anonymous as possible in efforts to not kick up dust with the family I am still associated with.
I am a young, Black gender non conformist – I don’t adhere exclusively to either the male or female binary… Androgynous. I have been this way my whole life, and have outwardly expressed it since I was ten or eleven.
When I was barely seventeen, I was raped and conceived a child. My family refused to believe me and insisted that they “knew this ‘gay thing’ was just a phase”, and “it was just my teenage hormones letting me know that I was becoming a woman”, amongst many other nasty things.
I had to hide my pregnancy as much as I could. I wore larger and more layered clothes. After the baby was born, I had to go all day with full and leaking breasts – yet I still went [to school] and did more than well. That child died later that year, and I was forced to keep attending school through the whole ordeal like nothing happened, otherwise “I might bring more shame to the family”. My milk drying up was all the grieving I got to have, and though I loved breastfeeding when I first had the chance despite my body image issues, the experience left some ugly scars.
The pain and anxiety stemming self-consciousness [left me] worried about a visible leak, and having to go eight hours or more a day without feeding or pumping literally fucked me up. To this day, I barely even look at my breasts, I avoid touching them as much as possible, let alone have them touched by anyone…I’ve considered a double mastectomy, but elected to look into a reduction instead. I’ve done some reading about breastfeeding after reduction, and it seems promising…but I’m afraid for future children and what that means for our breastfeeding experience.
This isn’t shared to be sad or for sympathy, but it’s being shared to stand and say that Black people, Black parenting, and Black breastfeeding is not a monolith. I just want to say QTIPOC [Queer, Tran, Intersex People of Color] do conceive, we do parent, we do breast and chestfeed, and we want to be heard too.