Menstruator, Not a woman
It was a relatively lazy evening. The sun had already set, with the chirping birds returning back to their nests. After participating in an unrestrained football match, the group of boys from the street were returning home, all feeling an unwavering sense of accomplishment.
Rishi, a 12-year-old, enjoyed the action-packed match, a daily routine for him and his friends. It was a break free from confinement as he felt a ubiquitous difference in his identity and preferences from his male peers, though he couldn’t exactly point out the difference. When he was returning home he experienced a piercing pain shooting through his stomach. The simple thought of it, being the aftereffect of a rigorous routine, any further deliberations on the matter eluded him. He walked all the way and reached his home.
Rishi informed his mother about his return and went to take a shower. While discarding his clothes he noticed that his pants were stained red with blood. Terrified Rishi, thinking that something happened to him, perhaps a disease which he wasn’t aware of, called out for his mother with an extreme sense of panic in his voice. His mother came rushing and was properly aghast at the sight. The deranged mother video called the family doctor. Upon a proper review of the matter, the doctor told them that Rishi was experiencing his first menstruation cycle. Rishi and his mother paused consciously trying to gather some perspective to the matter at hand.
The helpless mother felt clueless, “How come, only females menstruate! She cried to herself”. Rishi on the other hand felt extremely perplexed at the whole situation, his mind filled with a sense of agony.
Slowly he began to adapt to the changes taking place in his body. Even before he realized he was trans he didn’t like anything about having periods. He felt apart from his peer group, distancing himself from all sorts of social activities. Every month for seven days, Rishi Skipped School, he would always go home saying he had a fever. He was repulsed at the very sight of sanitary napkins. They were extremely uncomfortable and irritating. He always had to wear special underwear under his boxers so that the sanitary pad would stay in place. He never had any access to a toilet, a sink, a bin, etc whenever he went outside. Finding sanitary bins in male toilets was impossible.
He found it traumatic to be reminded that he is female-bodied and bleeds every month and thought he is not normal. He would cry sitting alone in the corner. When the people around him saw that something was different about Rishi they stopped talking to him properly, which made him feel isolated and segregated. His friend’s parents had forbidden their children to talk to him saying that he was different and would also change them. He hated menstruating so much that he wanted to get his uterus removed surgically. He hated the fact that he was not strong enough to be a man like his father.
BUT, in reality, transgender men are born just a little bit different than other guys. Men are stereotyped and associated with strength and masculinity. But the image formed by society is not always true.
Men must know about the whats and whys of menstruation. But this is not about educating the men about menstruation. We all know that women experience menstruation cycles every month. But is this related to just one gender?
The answer to this is NO. Many trans men non-binary folks bleed. After all, not all people who menstruate are women.
So, why is menstruating like a crime for them? Why is it considered to be a shameful act? After all, Menstrual blood is the only blood not born from violence. Yet it is the one that disgusts you the most.
Menstruation for women has always been a taboo and is not talked about. It has long been associated with disgust, dirt, shame, and fear. How big of a scare it would be for all the other individuals who bleed as they would not have anyone to talk to about this issue. It is very difficult for them to navigate having periods as a guy when everything to do with periods is female-oriented. From packaging to the design of the sanitary napkins are made keeping in mind that their utility is just for females.
It’s important to talk about gender as an irrelevant construct from menstruation because it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, you may have a uterus and you may be bleeding. And it’s just bleeding.
-Aakriti Gupta & Abhiniti Gupta