Finally, a candid conversation about periods. We get it. Periods are personal. Choosing empowerment over embarrassment, we’re here to give a real-life lesson on menstrual cycles and our bodies. And what better way to do that than from hearing stories about periods from our colleagues, friends and people we have met on this incredible journey. So join us as we talk about- yep, you guessed it - periods. #leaveyourstain
Who are you (we’d love to get to know you!) and what are your preferred pronouns?
My name is Ayo, I use they/them pronouns and I’m a visual artist originally from Ghana and Lesotho but now based in Toronto.
How did you first learn about periods?
I don’t know exactly where I first learned about periods, but I remember seeing fictional characters in movies and TV shows get their periods when I was younger. I remember thinking that they lasted all month and that it was the worst thing that could ever happen because of how they were depicted.
Do you remember your first period conversation? Who was it with and what was that like?
The first period conversation I remember having was when I got my period for the first time. I’m sure I had conversations before that, but I remember that particular one very clearly. It was with my sister, I didn’t have many questions because I was disappointed and didn’t feel ready to have a period so I just let her explain everything to me.
When did you get your first period? How was it? What happened?
I think I got my first period when I was 12 or 13 years old. It was during the summer and I was staying with my sister in Toronto. We went out for the day and when we got home, I went to the bathroom and noticed I had a stain - which terrified me. I called my sister over and she stood outside the door as I explained what was going on. Then she gave me a liner and we went shopping for period products that she taught me how to use. I was so disappointed, and I remember feeling like my time was up and I would never be free again. It sounds dramatic but I had no warning and thought that I’d have a period for several years until menopause - which thankfully wasn’t the case.
How did your period change as you began transitioning?
I kind of consider my whole life as my “transition” but I have been on a few different prescribed hormones that changed my period. When I was 16, I started birth control to help with my painful cramps, excessively long periods and heavy flow. I ended up switching brands three times before going off of them. Each kind that I tried would work for a little while then something would go wrong. They ended up messing with my body so much that I opted for my already horrible non-hormonally altered periods instead of the side effects from the pill. The last birth control I tried before giving up left me spotting and bleeding for about 6 months straight along with increased cramping, nausea and a host of other symptoms.
I went off of birth control in April of 2018, and then in January of 2020, I started testosterone. I started on what is considered a low dose, and then increased my dose in March of 2021. I was hoping that my period would stop right after I started testosterone, but it didn’t until a few months later. Then when I increased my dose I experienced some spotting.
Overall, being on testosterone has been amazing for me in pretty much every way. I don’t get a period anymore which is wonderful, because it used to be a great source of dysphoria and general frustration/discomfort for me. I get cramps every once in a while, but it’s not nearly as bad as before.
Thank you again for going live with us on Instagram! Is there anything else you’d like to share with our community?
Yes! I know a couple of queer and trans people who are fundraising for themselves, so I’d like to share some links - if they have already met their goals, I still suggest donating or following people on social media to see if you can donate money another time:
Moving fund gofund.me/463d0d3a
Resources for trans folks in Toronto
- Church Wellesley Health Centre
- Planned parenthood toronto
And lastly, what’s one thing you want people to know about trans and non-binary people who menstruate?
That not all of us have the same experiences with periods and with our bodies! It seems basic to say, but one person’s experiences with periods may be nothing like the next. Best bet is not to assume based on the way that someone looks that they may have a particular experience with periods - that goes for everything really!