In honor of International Transgender Day of Visibility, we wanted to take a moment to share the story of a man menstruator. At Aunt Flow we are often asked "why does eliminating 'feminine hygiene' from our vocabulary matter?" For a further explanation, check out this blog post. A quick overview on the post: 'Feminine' is not inclusive. There are individuals that identify as male, but still have a period.
Beck is a trans man that menstruates. We asked him some questions:
What anatomy were you assigned at birth?
Beck: I was born with normally functioning vulva, vagina, uterus and ovaries, so I was labelled female.
What gender do you identify with now?
Beck: I now identify as male.
For specific gender bathrooms, which do you use? How do you feel always using a stall?
Beck: I use men's washrooms, but sometimes I will hold it or find a different washroom based on crowd, environment, etc. I plan to purchase an STP (stand-to-pee device), which looks like a penis and is worn in a harness in the underwear, to allow someone with a vulva to use a urinal like someone with a penis would. In the meantime, I always use a stall, but I'm self-conscious about it!! I'm always worried a cisgender man will realize what I'm doing because I use toilet paper when I pee, or other silly little things like that. Bathrooms are extremely anxiety-inducing.
Have you started taking testosterone? Do you plan to?
Beck: I am on the waiting list. In my province, similar to many states and provinces, you are required to receive a letter of recommendation by a (usually cisgender) mental health professional who may have little training on transgender issues before starting medical assessment for hormones. The waitlist for the letter appointment in my area is 2 years.
What is it like to have a period?
Beck: I had a period until recently, when I started the Depo-Provera shot for the reason of trying to stop my period. At the time of starting it, I experienced bleeding for 3 weeks, which was awful, and I now experience occasional bleeding for a day or so, every few months. It is incredibly uncomfortable - I'm forced to think about the parts of my body that I don't feel "fit." It's also very difficult to have a period in the men's washroom, as there's no where to throw supplies away. I also have to carry a backpack while on my period in order to have room for a pad or tampon. If I get caught by surprise bleeding, I can't use the pad/tampon dispensers unless I send my girlfriend in to get me one. It would be much easier to deal with the crushing feeling of dysphoria on my period if the men's room was easier to navigate!
Is there an impact of eliminating the word "feminine" when referring to menstrual products?
Beck: Eliminating "feminine" from menstrual products allows men, non-binary people, and non-feminine women to feel like their period is natural and normal. If feminine women aren't supposed to be ashamed of their periods, why should other people with periods be made to feel that way? "Feminine hygiene products" implies that using pads or tampons is a feminine act to keep oneself from being dirty, which is so far from accurate.