#personal-essay

Accepting the Transmasc Period Experience — Individually and Externally

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Thinx - Periodical - Accepting the Transmasc Period Experience — Individually and Externally

by Jem Zero | December 09, 2021

At the beginning of my transition, one of the best things about taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), specifically testosterone, was stopping my period. I was relieved to put away the miscellaneous accoutrement and focus on living authentically.

I’m an agender transmasculine person, which means I was assigned female and feel masculine-of-center, but still do not identify with any gender. I am also autistic, and dealing with period blood has always been a negative sensory issue for me. Being out of control and unable to stop the blood from exiting my body is a recipe for existential anxiety, further exacerbated when I can’t get myself to feel clean. Telling myself “periods aren’t dirty!” didn’t help the negative emotions.

After two years on testosterone cream, my transition doctor helped me come to the decision to switch to pellet implants. This would introduce testosterone more slowly and at a lower rate than the cream I was using. Despite involving hammering the pellet into my butt-cheek, which resulted in a very painful week of not being able to sit down, it would keep me from having to challenge my needle phobia to do T injections.

Unfortunately, despite the “no-needle” relief, the new dose of T meant my periods restarted. Previous to this I’d gone eight months without a period, and getting them back has been… a challenge.

Now I’ve had to pull out the Thinx, my Luna cup, and the cotton reusable pads. Back to the stained underwear when I forgot I’d have to look out for my cycle, and the microwaveable rice pack for cramps. It’s been over three months since this change, and I’ve found myself hoping my next implant will stop them once again.

In the meantime, dealing with period care as a transmasc person who doesn’t relate to woman-adjacent language is a bear. There’s been a lot of controversy lately about using gender-neutral language in conversations about reproductive health. Objections to gender-neutral language tend to focus on the myth of stripping women from the topic of reproductive cycles, which isn’t our intention at all. We just want to be included.

I’m not a woman, but I still have a uterus, ovaries, and the ability to get pregnant, as well as the need for equal access to abortion and cancer screening. Despite being trans and on HRT, I still menstruate. Using words that don’t exclude me or alienate me from seeking care should be seen as a good thing, not like I’m intending to “take something” from cisgender women.

Through it all, I've been examining my feelings about menstruation more critically — and have realized how necessary it is to focus on period acceptance, specifically working to destigmatize all menstruation experiences. This includes gender-neutral language, of course, but on a personal note, it also means I shouldn’t view my period as something that “takes away” from my transition and existence as a masculine person.

I tell myself this all the time, and still struggle. That’s okay, though. Personal dysphoria is always valid! Plenty of cis women also feel emotionally uncomfortable during menstruation, especially if they experience health issues such as endometriosis. 

Even so, treating menstruation as a wholly net-negative phenomenon promotes the kind of stigma we’re trying to avoid.

Women menstruate. Men menstruate. Intersex people menstruate. Trans people menstruate. People who occupy overlapping categories also menstruate! We’re all in this together, and can make it easier for one another if we celebrate our similarities — and work toward a better future for all menstruators — while respecting our differences.

What’s a way you can support all people who menstruate? Let us know in the comments!

Jem Zero (ze/zir) is a disabled transmasc writer/artist creating work about zir faulty meatsack & brainjuice. Further eccentric nonsense can be found at @jem_zero (twitter), and @jemzero (instagram).

by Jem Zero

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