By: Kaleb Robertson
“It’s BIOLOGY, if you’re born with a penis you’re a boy and if you’re born with a vagina you’re a girl. Anyone who thinks differently is mentally sick.”
I’ve seen many versions of this comment on YouTube videos, on Instagram posts, and in the comment section of articles (yes thank you, I have been told to never read the comments). Surprisingly, none of those comments are by biologists, scientists or doctors. Actual medical professionals agree gender is complicated and include much more than the binary constrictions of just boy and girl.
Well here’s something – I exist outside of the binary, as do many other wonderful people. Actual humans, with real emotions who feel the impact of every attempt by people to say we don’t exist, or don’t deserve basic human rights. And there are a lot of people in the world who menstruate. And you know what? They’re not all women. I know, I know. Maybe you’ll say if you have a uterus, you’re a woman. My ex-girlfriend who needed a hysterectomy would like to speak to the manager about that, because a uterus does not a woman make. It’s impossible to convince someone who adamantly disagrees with the fact that there are more than two genders, let alone that gender isn’t static and we should accept and trust people who say they are a different gender than what they were assigned at birth.
So, let’s chat with people who are open-minded. People who understand diversity and acceptance. You know who gets it? Kids. You know who is affected by narrow-mindedness? Kids! Kids who grow up to be different than what was expected of them. Kids who are taught menstruation is a gross secret thing that should never be talked about. Kids who are struggling to learn about their bodies and themselves. Kids who never knew that once upon a time people had to wear a belt to wear a pad, and would think that feminine hygiene products is a weird term cuz they don’t associate menstruating with femininity.
When I was 14 and got my period for the first time, I didn’t tell anyone. When I got it the second time, it was at night and there was no hiding it. So I went to my mother and said, “I got it.” Obviously confused, she asked “what?”. “Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit” I said with angst. My body had failed me and was going to put me through the steps of puberty to “womanhood” without my consent. Even though I was 2 years old when I first told my mum I was a boy, it wasn’t until my 20s that I came back around to accepting it about myself. I don’t know how many times I told partners, “of course I wish I was born a boy, I just don’t want to become one”. I’ll take internalized transphobia and fear for 100 please, Alex.
Nobody is saying women don’t menstruate, but the reality is not ALL women do. And some people who aren’t women do. It makes sense to have conversations about who menstruates, in the interest of making an uncomfortable thing that we can’t control be a little less challenging for everyone. Some men have to get a hysterectomy, and that needs to be acknowledged. I have a non-binary friend going through cervical cancer treatment and struggling with closed-minded medical professionals and paving the way to make the process easier for future patients suffering life-changing cancers. The more comfortable trans and gender non-conforming people are with going to the doctor, the more problems can be caught before it’s too late. Being open about menstruation and eliminating the shame is the start of that.
Now hand me my manpons, I’m manstruating.