Portrait of a menstruator: Gimo’s story
In our Portrait of a menstruator series, we’re inviting people with periods from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders to share their stories. We’re asking a single, open-ended question: How has your period transformed, impacted, or altered your life or your experience of identity-formation?
Below, we hear from Gimo, a performer who acted in our recent video short, “A window into the transgender menstruation experience.”
Watch the video and read their story below.
My name is Gimo Moreno and I’m a trans nonbinary Mexican-American.
My history and experiences with puberty, menstruation, and my body in general have been a lifetime of pain and growth. I endured years of body dysmorphia, an array of eating disorders, and shame because of society’s need to place me in a box.
As a kid, I had little agency over my physical appearance. If I had to make an impression for any occasion, for any reason, I was supposed to be feminine. Anything else was unacceptable and sloppy or inappropriate.
When I started menstruating, I was told that I was embarking upon “womanhood.” That I shouldn’t feel that the unbearable cramps and bleeding that left me physically sick some days or the mood swings were abnormal in any way because it happened to a lot of women. That I should be excited to have breasts and curves that’ll one day make me attractive and desirable. That I was going to be a soft and beautiful woman one day like the women in my family or the women I saw on television and magazines.
And I believed all of this because I didn’t have that representation: I never saw or met anyone like me.
The unrealistic expectations I had for myself were physically impossible to reach because I was born to be trans.
When I was young, I really just thought I was ugly. I had masculine attributes and androgynous features that were made less apparent if I had long, lustrous hair and some makeup on my face. I thought maybe I’d be hyper femme when I got older and these confused feelings would fade away. I wouldn’t get unsavory looks from my peers or get asked if I was a boy or a girl or have the f-slur thrown at me if I looked or spoke how I wanted to.
Ultimately, these experiences in public, in my dating life, and in school clashed with my feelings about myself. Which only confused me more when I’d have my period…because having my period was this “biological” reminder of my impending doom as a future child-bearer.
When I was 14, I was introduced to tampons by my butch lesbian aunt. She and her partners over the years showed me this kind of independent way of being. They taught me to take on new things that would otherwise scare me had I not been given a little push.
My mom also influenced me greatly when it came to my physical, sexual, and mental health. She gave me the agency to express how I felt and let me know that I didn’t have to endure physical and emotional pain on my own. I could be comfortable in my body around women. Periods didn’t have to be messy and weird and this constant reminder of what I should be achieving.
In high school, I was taught cis-heteronormative, abstinence-based sexual education. But by that time, I was sexually active and knew that the gay community existed, whether my teachers wanted to admit it or not. I had gay friends, very gay thoughts, but didn’t know a single trans person or any way of talking about what I was really going through until I got into college and was exclusively on Tumblr.
From 2009 until 2015, I began to absorb transformative knowledge thanks in large part to these Tumblr blogs. I read about societal constructs, psychology (outside of the DSM-5), politics, and American history—told not by a straight, cis white person but instead by queer and trans BIPOC sharing real-life experiences.
This was the same era when the media began to influence its audience towards the belief that this shift in dialogue was having a negative effect on American society. They often called us “politically correct” or “too sensitive” in order to gaslight and continue to silence the marginalized.
Thinking back on the past, I felt incredibly uncomfortable and hurt by these microaggressions. There were times when sexist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic things were said freely by acquaintances and even loved ones and I didn’t have the knowledge or the language to speak up for myself. Reading and absorbing all of this new information, I was having these eye-opening moments and my mind was racing because it was like Pandora’s box had finally been opened.
I was in my early to mid-20s when I took an LGBTQIA+ Women/Gender Studies course and learned that what I had been going through, specifically with my gender, happened because I’m trans. People were confused by me and it wasn’t my fault—nor was I some kind of ugly duckling. I wasn’t a cis-woman who was broken and hated my reproductive system. I wasn’t a freak because I wanted to wear a binder, a suit, a mustache, and a bolo tie when I went out. I wasn’t confused when I could pass as both genders.
Education and stories from BIPOC elders in the LGBTQIA+ community helped me realize my truths and find that there are other people out there like me. They come in every kind of beautiful way, shape, and form. Our expression and our language are the opposite of a binary, structural, and colonial system. We’re strong, soft, and revolutionary. We’ve been here for millennia in cultures that date back to ancient times.
That is what made me proud to be in this body. When this shift happened in my life, I was no longer ashamed or confused about who I was. I’m 30 years old now, and my period and my pain no longer make my body dysmorphia spiral. It’s more of a reminder that I’m alive and fighting for myself and my right to exist as I am.
I’m not alone in my thoughts or my experiences as a nonbinary menstruator. I hope that my story inspires those who are struggling to accept themselves wholly. I understand how difficult it can be when you’re locked in a battle between identity and our society’s stubborn and backward expectations.
If this rings true for you, know that it will get better. Find your community and lean on others for support. Here are some resources that can help:
- Trans Lifeline (@translifeline on Instagram)
- The Trevor Project (@trevorproject on Instagram)
- GLAAD (@glaad on Instagram)
- National Center for Transgender Equality
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Follow Gimo (They/Them/Theirs) @i_am_gimo on Instagram.