feedingA strange thing happened to me today.

The background to this is: I’ve been getting to know my brother’s girlfriend, whose daughter is pregnant. Last time we met, we’d been having a far-rambling conversation about families, relationships, children, and gender transition. Somewhere in there, I mentioned a drug I’d heard that some trans women take because they hope it will aid breast development, a drug which is normally prescribed to increase lactation.

Yesterday, I wrote to her to ask how they were getting on, and mentioned this drug in passing (because I’d finally remembered what it was called). She wrote back to me today about her daughter, and wound up her message by jokingly asking whether I was up for sharing the breast feeding?

I was really knocked sideways by the strong physical urge this triggered in me to do just that. I’ve never felt this before, and I didn’t (and don’t) have any plans involving lactation.

But tonight, I’ve been feeling a sad bioenvy. (I coined this word for myself, before discovering it’s also the brand name of a perfume…)

What I mean by bioenvy is envy of people who are born into the biological body their gender expects them to have. There are a whole load of experiences I’m never going to have in this lifetime, because I wasn’t born in a female body. I’m generally pretty sanguine about this, but things catch me by surprise – like a while back when I found myself mourning not menstruating.

This, though… I’m really floored by the somatic strength of the image I had of me with a baby at my breast. I’ve heard women talk about this nursing-longing.

I’m going to be content. Some women just never get to do some of the things other women get to do, that’s just life. It’s fascinating to find myself suddenly wanting things I never knew I’d want. Going through a gender transition is turning out to be something of a Buddhist Upgrade, as I’m being constantly jostled into new awarenesses of my changing self, and have to find ways to respond creatively. And with chocolate.

The other odd-but-nice part of this is that when I first met her pregnant daughter (who is dealing with ADD and anxiety issues, and is apparently usually very wary and skittish with strangers), everyone including me was really surprised by how at ease she was with me, and I feel like we connected in some way.

So to find myself imagining sharing something that intimate with her (and maybe taking some of the burden off her, as she’s maybe not going to have an easy time with being a mother) – something in me was just saying Yes! to that. This will never happen, but I actually feel like I was handed a small gift as well as a koan in having this idea put in my head. Initially I felt very sad and vulnerable, but now I feel more tender instead.

I hope I get to do some dandling, once this baby is born. I’m looking forward to getting to know all of them better.

This really didn’t end where it started. That’s why I like writing!

red lotus


2 comments on “Bioenvy

  1. marika grofno says:

    I know this has nothing to do with the bigger issues and your processing of grief, but actually I think lactating is something that can be activated in male bodies, too (I don’t know what the preferred language is, but you know what I mean). Wikipedia and youtube has some info on it. It won’t work 100%, but hey, in the worst case the baby got to cling to you for a time instead of beign alone suckling a pacifier – where is the harm?

    • womandrogyne says:

      What concerns me is that there could be harm for the baby, if it requires medication to make the adult able to lactate. There’s nowhere near enough research for me to feel that it would be safe to do that, from the baby’s point of view. If it were just a case of the baby suckling on a dry teat for comfort, that’s another story – though from what I hear, that can be very painful for the teat owner! In any case, I’m not craving the actual experience, so much as envious of those who’ve grown up into it being natural. But I appreciate your response.

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