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Menstruation Among Transgender and Non-Binary People

Image: Lisett Kruusimae/ Pexels

Content Warning: This article contains descriptions of body dysmorphia 

 Our bodies and identities exist within a societal context, and societal norms further form, sustain, and percolate these socially conforming identities through interactions and communication.

LGBTQIA+ narratives are now more visible in mainstream media than in the past, but there remains a glaring fissure between the media we consume and the reality that we exist in. It is also apparent how transgender and nonbinary identities are constricted and negotiated within the socially constructed binary of sex and gender and how it continues to harm people whose identities do not adhere to the same.

One’s gender identity and the sex that they are assigned at birth are not the same. Gender is the choices one makes and how one presents oneself, be it through clothing, makeup, behavior, mannerisms, facial hair, body type, and so on. Sex is considered a biological “marker” of one’s identity, like hormones, genitalia, chromosomes, etc. 

These medical markers are not used in the daily interactions of people, but on the other hand, how one dress and whether one shaves their facial hair or not are often considered gendered signals. 

Prejudices and stigmas that revolve around gender binaries also stem from these signals and help in policing what is “acceptable” and what is not. In reality, gender is a broad spectrum where one can choose where to place themselves and shape and form who they are and who they want to be perceived as. 

Long-standing notions of what it is like to be a “man” or a “woman” set parameters and assign roles for people who conform to the binary. This ostracizes and excludes trans and nonbinary people from larger public spaces and shifts them to the fringe.

Menstruation is precariously considered a gendered phenomenon, and as such, narratives like it is something “feminine” and the “essence of womanhood” are perpetuated. No matter how progressive a country claims itself to be, taboos regarding menstruation still thrive, and it is expected to keep talks regarding menstruation in the domain of women only and not something to be discussed universally. Naturally, trans and non-binary people are not included in discourses regarding menstruation and uterine healthcare at large.

Anyone who has a uterus experiences menstruation, irrespective of their gender identity (it goes without saying that a person having a special medical issue or someone who has decided to stop them does not fall under this category). Menstruation is held as a marker that separates men from women, and this predominating notion ends up clashing with trans and non-binary identities and their experiences. 

Trans and nonbinary people do not just experience this phenomenon and its repercussions in passing; these are realities that they live with as well. Conscious and active efforts should be made to include trans and nonbinary people in important conversations like healthcare, and the usage of gender-neutral language should be the norm everywhere inspiring inclusivity.  

This exclusion heavily discourages trans and nonbinary people from coming up and talking about their experiences and struggles and causes harm in alarming proportions.

“There are times that I can ignore that my body is perceived as female and has female organs, but during my periods, my body kind of reminds me of the perceived permanence of my gender identity," says Senjuti, a non-binary identifying person. Senjuti had come out to their parents with regards to their sexual identity almost seven years ago but still hasn’t talked to them about their gender identity, noting “they might not understand the difference between the two.”.

 There aren’t many studies that have been conducted to bring out the issues of genderqueer and trans people and shed light on their struggles and opinions regarding menstruation. But whatever data there is and the interviews conducted accentuate the feeling of extreme gender dysphoria being experienced by them when they menstruate more than anything else. Some believe that menstruating stops them from being who they are, as society heavily attaches menstruation to “being a woman,” as mentioned earlier. 

Menstrual products are also immensely feminized and are marketed as something to be used by women only, which further incites the feeling of exclusion among trans and nonbinary people. They end up internalizing their dysphoria in the process, which is both mentally and physically damaging and messes up their perception of themselves and how they view the world.

What aggravates this even more are the prejudices one is meted out, which are harmful, to say the least, and come as part and parcel when one identifies themselves as trans or nonbinary. They are also afraid to open up about their struggles except for their closest friends and allies and other safe places that they create for themselves because of the utter cruelty that they are met with from other spheres of society.

The lack of gender-neutral public washrooms furthers this problem, as it is never possible for a transmasculine person to have access to a menstrual bin in a men’s washroom or to be able to wash a menstrual cup. Having access to washrooms is a basic necessity for every human being, and cis people can never fathom how this simple activity is a source of immense amount of stress and anxiety for trans and nonbinary people.


Gender-inclusive washrooms as well as menstrual products are a necessity that will help trans, nonbinary, and cis kids form and teach the idea that menstruating does not impose on them a specific gender identity and does not take away the essence of their being. Any specific body organ can never act like a line and make them any less trans, nonbinary, or whoever they want to be.

Cis people should stop setting the premise for discourse, limiting and constricting spaces, exempting nonbinary and trans people from important discussions such as this, and instead pass the mic on so that they get to speak for themselves and make sure that their voices are heard. 

It is possible for someone not to know and understand the various identities and their nuances that make up this world, regardless one can always refrain from being disrespectful and outrightly insensitive. We live in a heavily digitized world where there is an efficient search engine always at our disposal. It almost takes little to no effort to educate one’s self and make everyone’s life a lot easier.



Edited by: Georgiana Jureschi


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