Cycle Diaries Vol 5: Gender inclusivity is everything
17th November 2021
As a trans-masculine person, navigating my periods has always been a challenge.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve felt a disconnect with my body and myself. Something about me always felt different, or like I didn’t belong, and so when I first started menstruating, I remember feeling almost relieved. This was a normal and healthy part of growing up that I was experiencing. I was glad to be fitting in with the people around me for once.
But as time went on and I started to question my gender identity, my periods became a more complicated experience.
The first issues I faced were in public bathrooms. I had started to use the men’s bathroom and quickly realised how inaccessible it was for people menstruating. There were no sanitary bins, no dispensers with sanitary items for sale, nowhere to dispose of hygiene products whatsoever. This made going anywhere during my period very challenging.
I didn’t want to be in these inaccessible spaces and so I would often avoid situations or go to places I knew gender neutral toilets were available. It was hard having to adapt my life once a month, just so I could comfortably use a bathroom.
The most difficult part of my experience with periods has been the dysphoria I’ve felt. Purchasing sanitary items, in the early stages of my transition, always heightened my dysphoria. Not only are products so often tailored and branded for women, but I’ve often found staff uneducated on how to be gender inclusive. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been misgendered as a result of shopping for or buying these products.
My dysphoria also came from the reality of having a period, which for me was a symbol of many things I didn’t feel connected with. I think society is responsible for this.
Some women don’t experience periods - that doesn’t in any way de-validate their experience of womanhood. The same goes for men who bleed - they are still valid men. But society doesn’t teach us this. So having a period, for me, a trans-masculine person, represented womanhood, fertility and feminine hygiene - all things that didn’t connect with me.
In fact having a period isn’t about those things at all. Periods are not exclusive to women nor are they necessary to being a woman. And people of all genders can get their period. It is extremely frustrating to not only be ignored from the conversation about periods but to be alienated from them too.
To make menstruating an easier process for transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary people to navigate, we must make an effort to change the ways we think about menstruation, as well as the ways we talk about it & educate others on it. Trans women and trans men exist, meaning periods are not exclusive to cisgender women.
We must start using gender-neutral language when talking about menstruation.
We must not ignore trans people from the conversation any longer. We must make positive changes to create accessible and safe environments for everyone who menstruates.
“People” get periods.