A friend posted a meme that read this: “Dear guys embarrassed about buying tampons, No one thinks they’re for you.”
Sigh. And who cares if they do?
I have lots to say about this, but I simply commented that some dudes do get periods. Because they do. That’s a fact.
An anonymous stranger then told me that my reminder that transgender men and nonbinary folks bleed does not need to be added on “every single period post ever made.” This person continued, “Mostly women get periods. More cis women exist than whoever else you think gets periods. Kinda feels like a ‘what about MEN though’ on every women’s post.”
Okay, stranger who sounds like they are bringing a lot of privilege to the conversation, this is why I need to comment on every single period post ever made.
First of all, this was not a woman’s post. This was specifically meant to tell men to grow the fuck up and stop being dicks when they need to buy tampons. And that’s fine.
But more needs to be added to the conversation. Men need to get over the stigma that menstruation is gross, dirty, a women’s only issue, or something that emasculates them. Men need to be reminded that other men can and do bleed and there is nothing inherently embarrassing or wrong about that. It is absolutely okay for people to assume the tampons men are buying are for them. My comment was definitely a ‘what about men’ sentiment, but this was not a women’s post. And my comment was not a “poor men” sentiment. My point was not to cradle the male ego by any stretch, but to check it and toughen it, specifically the ego of cisgender men who are too squeamish to support the menstruating people in their lives.
So, what about men? First, let’s be sure that when we are talking about men, we are including transgender men and trans masculine nonbinary people too. Along with ego, cis men need to let go of their homo and trans phobias. Don’t @ me, folks. When I teach classes about LGBTQ topics, when I write about or post queer stuff to my social media channels, guess who doesn’t show up? Straight, cisgender men. And it’s not because they are the emotionally intelligent, super self-aware, and confident in their sexuality folks who are so woke they don’t need to learn anything; it’s because LGBTQ topics often make them uncomfortable and they worry they will be accused of being guilty of queerness just by association to said topics.
Culture has bred toxic masculinity and now it has to abort it. Along the current fucked up path that is often used to raise boys, men were taught that feminine qualities and emotions are not acceptable; they learned that boys who like boys and boys who once lived as girls are not real men. That shit needs to go too. Because trans men are men and nonbinary folks may identify as male as well, either through gender fluidity or a combination of male and female genders.
Being a man is not about having a penis, and being a man may include getting a period. So, thanks commenter who doesn’t get it, this meme was not a women’s post.
Also, just because more cis women get periods than those who I “think” get periods doesn’t mean we should exclude the non-cis folks. It’s not a matter of thinking other people get periods; I know we do. It’s also a matter of being sure those of us non-cis people who do bleed don’t feel even more like garbage when we are shamed and beat over the head with the gendered bullshit that goes along with sanitary napkins or menstrual cups.
In fact, on top of uteruses being jerks—with all of the monthly cramping, gas, and bloody mess—menstruation for transgender men and nonbinary people can be traumatizing and add to everyday body dysphoria.
The bloating, the swollen breasts, and the fucking exaggerated reminders that my body is not what I want it to be cause me to hate my body more. My depression worsens and my sense of worth is gone during this time. I’m all set being told I shouldn’t comment on posts about periods. Because until I am included in the conversation, I am going to keep inviting myself into it.
And what about the transgender women who will never go through the rite of passage of getting a period? Bleeding fucking sucks, but some trans girls are very hurt by the knowledge that their body cannot do what their brain thinks it should and what their heart wants it to do. We can’t say “all girls get periods” any more than we can say boys don’t.
I say ‘”Dear guy embarrassed about buying tampons, It’s okay if someone thinks they are for you. Sometimes men bleed, but that doesn’t make you less of a man. Bleeding does not strip away masculinity, and the body is nothing to be ashamed of.”
We should not only encourage boys to buy the tampons or pads for the menstruating folks in their lives, but remind them that it’s okay if they need to use them too.
I tried to explain some of this to my closed-minded commenter. They said this: “I’m unmoved by your point of view, my opinion isn’t changing.”
That’s a bummer because, much like a tampon, you need to change your toxic opinions before they hurt you or someone you love.