RCOG advises greater support for trans men chest-feeding babies

Transgender men who choose to “chest-feed” their babies should be offered a greater level of support, a royal college has advised in new draft guidelines.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says trans men should be asked about their preferred manner of feeding before their baby is born and those who opt to chest-feed should be offered “chest-feeding support in the same manner as for cis-women”.

The document, which has been put out for consultation until 6 September, makes a series of recommendations to help improve care.

It calls for trans and gender-diverse people to be offered advice about fertility preservation when considering gender-affirming surgery or hormone therapies.

The RCOG also advises that individuals who conceive while taking masculinising hormone therapy should stop taking the hormones “as soon as possible”, while those who are planning to conceive should stop their therapy for three months prior to conception.

Healthcare workers should also be aware that trans and gender-diverse people can face barriers when accessing healthcare services and take steps to ensure “easy access to care without their gender being questioned or their confidentiality breached”.

The RCOG also recommended that people should be addressed and referred to by their preferred title, name, pronouns and family relationships.

The document states that “gender-diverse people should be offered health screening in accordance with national public health policies and clinical guidelines”.

The RCOG president, Edward Morris, said: “This is an important guideline which aims to improve the care and experiences of transgender and gender-diverse individuals accessing obstetric and gynaecological services.

“Sadly, trans and gender-diverse individuals say they often feel judged and misunderstood by the health service.

“This can act as a barrier for them when it comes to accessing vital care and we as healthcare professionals have a role to play in making them feel listened to and recognised.

“This draft guideline is our first attempt to ensure we are providing personalised care for all our patients.

“We welcome feedback on this draft to ensure the guideline is the best as it can be for clinicians and the trans and gender-diverse individuals who use our services.”

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It follows the government’s women’s health strategy, which said transgender men and non-binary people with female reproductive organs should always receive screening invites so they can access cervical and breast cancer screening.

Clare Ettinghausen, from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said: “There is a lot of work to be done to ensure healthcare is fully inclusive and the development of this draft guidance is a welcome step towards this.”

The Guardian