Being Trans or Nonbinary on Your Period
That time of the month is never something you’ll get excited about. Those days when despite your busy life, you have to slow down and deal with your period. With all of the cramping, bloating, and other annoying symptoms, it can make you feel like you’re not in control of your body. The process alone can be frustrating, but for our trans and nonbinary friends, it can be the source of a host of other frustrating issues.
For trans men and nonbinary people, their period can be an affair that is met with all of the regular symptoms plus a few more. Not to mention, period culture is already so looked down upon by society. With all of the stigma surrounding periods, as well as period culture being so cisgender-focused, it can be difficult for trans and nonbinary people to navigate their identity while menstruating.
While this article may not encompass all realities that trans men and nonbinary people experience, it may help some to read and understand that you aren’t alone. So let’s talk more in-depth about some of the things that trans and nonbinary people may experience on their periods.
While not every trans or nonbinary person experiences dysphoria, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still crop up for some. Trans men and nonbinary people may experience dysphoria surrounding their period as it can feel at odds with their gender identity. So when that time of the month rolls around it may cause a lot of really complicated feelings to arise.
If you aren’t quite sure what dysphoria is, we’re talking specifically about gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a state in which a trans or nonbinary person may feel emotional or psychological distress at their gender identity being at odds with their biological sex. This can cause discomfort with one’s body, stress, anxiety, and a whole host of other symptoms.
Because period culture is so geared towards being for cisgender women only, it adds to that dysphoric feeling of one’s biological workings being at odds with how you identify. It can be embarrassing or uncomfortable and even add to depressive or anxious feelings. For some transmasculine people, their period may be a big source of this dysphoria and can make going through it every month a real pain in all aspects.
As mentioned before, periods are heavily stigmatized even for cisgender women. It is often the point of ridicule for youth and teens from groups that don’t experience it, and even sometimes those who do. It is often depicted as this gross thing that befalls anyone with that biological reproductive system. That feeling of being perceived as gross can make it difficult for anyone facing their period to feel okay with what their body is doing.
For trans and nonbinary folks it is a different kind of challenge as the stigma is a lot different. Trying to display yourself as the gender you identify as feels difficult when there is such a stigma and “femininity” attached to all things period. This stigma goes beyond personal feelings as well. Being a school-aged trans man or nonbinary person can make dealing with your period a little more frustrating.
Stigma can cause peers or even teachers to subject trans men and nonbinary folks to teasing regarding a normal bodily function. It happens to cisgender women all the time and with peers who may not understand your gender identity, it can be just as bad if not worse for trans and nonbinary peers.
Period products and marketing tend to be geared specifically towards cisgender women. Everything is feminized in a way that can leave trans men and nonbinary folks lacking for representation and products that they feel comfortable using. This goes further than just the packaging of period products being marketed towards cis-women.
With periods being highly regarded as a biologically female thing, there are limitations that can push people who experience them but identify differently, out of certain spaces. Bathrooms have been a hot button issue for several years now, and the issue of not being able to use a gender preferred bathroom causes issues for those in the trans and nonbinary community.
When you factor in periods specifically, trans men and masculine nonbinary people who are able to use men’s restrooms will find a lack of available hygiene products that will be available in a typical women’s restroom. There are no tampon machines or baskets with products for you to take from. This causes a huge issue with access for those who may get their period unexpectedly and be without a product they brought from home.
Another factor is period tracking apps. Nearly every app on the market is geared towards women and can often leave trans men and nonbinary folks feeling left out of the conversation. A gender-neutral app would be a great way to allow trans men and nonbinary folks to track their cycle without feeling dysphoric.
These are just a few of the things that can make being trans or nonbinary on your period a difficult time. While these aren’t a universal set of issues, they are ones that are faced by many. It is important to remember that periods are not limited to cisgender women and that we should be inclusive in period culture to help reduce some of these issues.
It may not happen all at once, but by just being kind and inclusive to everyone facing that time of the month, you can reduce a lot of discomfort and frustration for someone else.