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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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Judicial Watch Sues CDC for Records about Its Guidance on Breastfeeding by Males

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for records related to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on breastfeeding by transgender biological males (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:23-cv-03001)).

The lawsuit was filed after the CDC, a component of Health and Human Services, failed to respond to a July 6, 2023, FOIA request asking for:

1. All records reviewed, referenced, or relied upon in the drafting and publishing of updated guidance pertaining to breastfeeding by transgender individuals on the CDC’s web site. For purposes of clarification, this guidance is published at https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/maternal-or-infant-illnesses/breast-surgery.html and https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/emergencies-infant-feeding/health-equity.html.

2. All records of communication between any official or employee of the CDC and any other individual or entity regarding the updated guidance described in part one of this request.

 The CDC posted on its website advice to “transgender parents who have had breast surgery” about breastfeeding or “chestfeeding” infants:

Some transgender parents who have had breast/top surgery may wish to breastfeed, or chestfeed (a term used by some transgender and non-binary parents), their infants. Healthcare providers working with these families should be familiar with medical, emotional, and social aspects of gender transitions to provide optimal family-centered care and meet the nutritional needs of the infant.

In an article dealing with “Health Equity Considerations” is a subsection titled “Here are some things your emergency preparedness and response team can do to help achieve health equity when working with families who have young children.” The CDC advises:

Remember that:
If you have questions about infant nutrition or medications before and while breastfeeding, please consult with your healthcare provider….

  • Transgender and nonbinary-gendered individuals may give birth and breastfeed or feed at the chest (chestfeed). The gender identity or expression of transgender individuals is different from their sex at birth. The gender identity of nonbinary-gendered individuals does not fit neatly into either man or woman.
  • An individual does not need to have given birth to breastfeed or chestfeed.
  • Some families may have other preferred terminology for how they feed their babies, such as nursing, chestfeeding, or bodyfeeding.

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions in July 2023 sent a letter to CDC Director Mandy Cohen, asking for information about the CDC’s guidance for transgender women (biological men) who wish to breastfeed:

We are writing to you with serious concern about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance for biological men who identify as women (transgender individual) who wish to breastfeed. CDC’s Pledge to the American People commits that the basis of all public health decisions will be made on the highest quality scientific data that is derived openly and objectively. This guidance, however, seems driven by political considerations rather than science, and the Agency has provided no explanation of the reasoning and data behind these recommendations.

The senators ask for “information regarding the scientific basis” regarding its guidance, including:

Did the CDC use any peer-reviewed studies to inform its guidance on transgender individuals breastfeeding? If so, please provide these studies with your response. If not, why not?

What data did CDC rely on that compares the nutritional benefits of biological women’s breast milk with the breast milk produced by a transgender individual?

What data did CDC rely on to evaluate the long-term effects or health risks to an infant from being breastfed by a transgender individual who has received hormonal therapy to transition genders?

Why does the CDC recommend that health care providers help transgender individual obtain a drug that is not approved for use in the U.S.?

“The Biden administration attacks the health and welfare of infants by encouraging biological men to pretend to nurse them,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This dangerous transgender extremism is now the subject of a cover-up, as the CDC refuses to turn over any records under FOIA to Judicial Watch about its ‘advice’ to help biological men attempt to ‘chestfeed’ infants.”

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