Do transgender folks get their periods?
Short answer: Yes, depending on the person. Some transgender folks do menstruate.
Longer answer: It’s complicated. Society tends to forget that just because someone has masculine presenting features and identifies as a man, doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of getting their period. But not all women get their periods and not all people who have periods are women.
While there are many positive conversations happening in the world and on the Internet that involve and highlight trans issues, the experience of being trans and having a period is rarely discussed. From print ads and commercials to spokespeople for brands, cis women are pretty much always the focus for who gets a period and what to do about it.
Gender dysphoria & menstruation
Gender dysphoria, a condition that’s defined as feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex, can become more complicated when coinciding with a menstrual cycle.
In a Well + Good article from 2019, Joanna McClinktick, a youth sexual health coordinator for The Center in NYC, highlights the emotional implications that surface when we feminize having a period, and dysphoric feelings that come along with it:
“One of the first entry points young people have to sex and sexuality is shame,” says Joanna. “In terms of the gender non-conforming and transmasculine community, getting your period for the first time, or just having your period, might be really traumatic or disappointing.”
“Those markers of puberty, and how biology is maybe determining how we will continue to grow, can be upsetting […] Just the experience of having a monthly period can be gender dysphoric, making people feel even more at odds between their bodies and their identity.”
The above point is particularly important. Dealing with menstrual products and painful period symptoms can feel at odds with one’s gender and lead to negative thoughts like, “I’m not trans enough” or “this shouldn’t be happening to me.”
Those who go through this have to work hard to find period products, community resources, and trusted medical opinions and healthcare providers who can support and recognize their needs.
How to be a better ally to the trans community
Even if you’re a person who’s never thought about the trans experience before in your life, there’s still time for you to show up as an ally and find ways to educate yourself and welcome trans folks into the menstruation community. Here are a few tips:
Talk about it. Talking openly about anything gives it room to be accepted more widely in society than ever before. Research and data suggest that menstruation information within LGBTQIA communities is scarce and that the experience can be a source of stress.
With this in mind, being open to a conversation or sharing information with others could be an open door to those who need it. The more we talk openly about issues people face, the less stigmatized they are.
Educate yourself & be willing to listen. We wholly admit that we’re not experts in any way on the trans experience. In fact, this article was written by a cis white woman as part of our efforts to advocate for the trans community, and in the future, we’d love to hear from you and get first-hand experiences and stories from those who’ve gone through this.
That said, personal education can be a wonderful thing and help to break down preconceived notions. Academic articles, talks and podcasts, literature and films about the trans experience are a worthwhile way to introduce oneself to the trans menstruation experience.
If you are a trans person with a period or deal with body dysphoria in conjunction with your cycle, we’d love to hear from you. It’s important that we convey diverse points of views and real-life experiences through our content. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with anything you’d like to share or discuss.
In this video, one trans man candidly speaks about his experience of getting a period and the questions that surface. Take a look.
In addition to that, there’s also a highly informative academic article that illuminates trans attitudes towards menstruation, which could be helpful (and enlightening!) to read.