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Row as hospitals say hormone-filled milk from trans women who were born male is just as good for a baby as the real thing


Drug-induced milk from transgender women who were born male is as good for babies as a mother’s breast milk, an NHS Trust has said.

A leaked letter from the Medical Director of University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust describes both as ‘human milk’ and says that they are the ‘ideal food for infants’.

The letter was sent on behalf of the Trust’s Chief Executive in response to a campaign group’s complaint about the Trust’s gender policies.

It defends the controversial practice of ‘induced lactation’ by means of powerful medication to enable trans women to simulate breastfeeding. It also claims that the term ‘human milk’ is ‘meant to be neutral and is not gender-biased’.

But responding to the letter, Labour MP Rosie Duffield said: ‘Babies can’t be used as guinea pigs for someone else’s lifestyle choice.

A leaked letter from the Medical Director of University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust describes both as ¿human milk¿ and says that they are the ¿ideal food for infants¿. Stock Image

A leaked letter from the Medical Director of University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust describes both as ‘human milk’ and says that they are the ‘ideal food for infants’. Stock Image

The letter was sent on behalf of the Trust¿s Chief Executive in response to a campaign group¿s complaint about the Trust¿s gender policies. Pictured: The Royal Sussex County Hospital

The letter was sent on behalf of the Trust’s Chief Executive in response to a campaign group’s complaint about the Trust’s gender policies. Pictured: The Royal Sussex County Hospital

Labour MP Rosie Duffield (pictured) said: ¿Babies can¿t be used as guinea pigs for someone else¿s lifestyle choice.' in response to the letter

Labour MP Rosie Duffield (pictured) said: ‘Babies can’t be used as guinea pigs for someone else’s lifestyle choice.’ in response to the letter

‘When a man has not and cannot grow a baby, why on earth are we pandering to this? Who does it benefit? Not the children. We wouldn’t do any other medical experiments on babies. Breast milk made by a baby’s biological mother is tailor-made for that baby.’

Ms Duffield also warned of the ‘ethics of untested chemicals in children’.

She added that the NHS Trust’s use of ‘human milk’ for milk from both mothers and trans women risks erasing women.

In the letter, the Medical Director claims ‘there is clear and overwhelming evidence that human milk is the ideal food for infants’, referring to both breast milk and the ‘induced lactation’ of biological men.

How a biological male could breastfeed a child

BY PENNY WARD

In the womb and during early childhood both boys and girls develop breast tissue, but during puberty only females are subject to the surges of oestrogen and progesterone which enable breasts to produce milk later.

Lactation happens naturally after birth when a hormone called prolactin kicks in and stimulates milk-producing ‘alveolar’ cells.

The baby sucking the breast also stimulates the release of prolactin and another hormone, oxytocin, which makes the breast tissue release milk.

Women who haven’t given birth but wish to breastfeed have been able to do so by taking hormones and stimulating their breast tissue with a breast pump.

The same combination of drugs can be given to a biological male, who first needs to grow breast tissue capable of lactation. This requires them to take testosterone suppressants along with oestrogen and progesterone hormone treatment. Once there is enough breast tissue, the brain must be stimulated to produce prolactin, which can be done by giving domperidone or metoclopramide. These drugs are usually used in low doses for a short time to treat nausea and vomiting.

Higher doses can stimulate the production of prolactin in the brain. When used for a month or more this enables the new breasts to start to produce milk, just like those of a biological female. There are very few studies in this area.

Domperidone can cause heart arrhythmias. Taking the higher doses of this drug to stimulate prolactin secretion requires care in people with a genetic disposition to heart conditions. A man given oestrogen is also at higher risk of breast cancer.

The Director goes on: ‘The evidence which is available demonstrates that the milk is comparable to that produced following the birth of a baby.’

The document was revealed as part of a report by the think-tank Policy Exchange.

Lottie Moore, the organisation’s Head of Equality and Identity, said: ‘This letter is unbalanced and naive in its assertion that the secretions produced by a male on hormones can nourish an infant in the way a mother’s breast milk can.’

Ms Moore added: ‘A child’s welfare must always take precedence over identity politics and contested belief systems that are not evidence-based. The NHS should not be indulging in this nonsense. It is compromising women’s rights and child safeguarding.’

In explaining its policies, the Trust cited a five-month scientific study in 2022 which measured ‘infant milk testosterone concentrations’ and found ‘no observable infant side effects’ on babies of lactating transgender women. But experts rejected the claims and pointed out the overall lack of scientific studies on such side effects. ‘There have been very few publications and the vast majority have not looked at what’s in the milk itself,’ one medical expert said.

Indeed, some of the campaigners’ concerns are over the safety of the drugs given to men to produce the milk – drugs which can cause heart problems. They also point out that the result produces very little milk. There is ‘barely enough for a single feed’ per day, the same expert told The Mail on Sunday.

University Hospitals Sussex Trust is a member of Stonewall’s controversial ‘Diversity Champions’ programme. It admitted that its policy was derived after advice from ‘external organisations’ – but refused to clarify which.

Nonetheless, the Trust rejected accusations by campaigners that its policies are ‘clearly biased towards the demands of trans- people rather than the wellbeing of children’.

It added: ‘The Trust takes the wellbeing and safeguarding of children extremely seriously.’

Meanwhile, the Trust has refused to reveal how many births in its hospitals have been to trans women, acknowledging only that it is a ‘very small number’.

Milli Hill, author of The Positive Birth Book and Give Birth Like a Feminist, said: ‘Breastfeeding is not about the experience of the person doing the feeding – it is about nourishing and nurturing a baby.

‘No newborn should be used as a prop to affirm an adult’s identity as ‘female’, when clearly they are not female. If they were actually female, they would not need to take drugs to try to induce a tiny amount of milk from their nipples. No male person has ever been able to produce enough milk to exclusively feed a baby and there are no studies into the long-term safety of offering such a substance to a baby.

‘There is no reason for an adult to do this to a baby, and I would go so far as to describe it as abusive. For an NHS Trust to be supporting such an abuse is an absolute disgrace.’

A spokesman from University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We stand by the facts of the letter and the cited evidence supporting them.’



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