Transgender people are often the subject of discussion and debate, with many myths and misconceptions surrounding the topic. One such myth relates to menstruation, with some people believing that transgender people cannot menstruate. This myth is not only untrue but can also be harmful, as it perpetuates stigmas and misunderstandings about transgender individuals. This article aims to debunk the myth that transgender people cannot menstruate and provide a greater understanding of this topic.
What is Transgender?
Before we can delve into the topic of menstruation and transgender individuals, it is important to understand the definition of transgender. Transgender is an umbrella term that refers to individuals whose gender identity does not match the gender they were assigned at birth. This can include individuals transitioning from male to female, female to male, or non-binary individuals who identify outside of the male/female binary.
What is Menstruation?
Menstruation is the process of shedding the lining of the uterus and expelling it from the body through the vagina. This process typically occurs once a month in those assigned female at birth and can be accompanied by a variety of physical and emotional symptoms.
Can Transgender Menstruate?
Contrary to popular belief, transgender individuals can menstruate. While hormonal and surgical interventions can impact the menstrual cycle, people assigned female at birth who identify as male can experience menstrual bleeding. Similarly, transgender individuals who have undergone gender-affirming surgery may still experience vaginal bleeding and menstruation.
Hormonal Interventions and Menstruation
Many transgender individuals undergo hormonal interventions as part of their transition. Hormone therapy can impact the menstrual cycle, causing changes in frequency, duration, and intensity. Testosterone is a commonly administered hormone for individuals assigned female at birth who identify as male. While testosterone can impact the menstrual cycle, it does not stop menstruation altogether in all cases. Some individuals may continue to have periods, albeit less frequently or with reduced bleeding. For those assigned male at birth who identify as female, hormone therapy may be prescribed to induce menstruation and other menstrual symptoms. Hormone therapy can include estrogen, progesterone, or a combination of both.
Surgical Interventions and Menstruation
Transgender individuals may also undergo surgical interventions as part of their transition. These surgeries can include hysterectomy, which removes the uterus and sometimes the cervix, and oophorectomy, which removes the ovaries. While these surgeries can impact the menstrual cycle, they do not necessarily stop it altogether. Vaginal bleeding can still occur after these surgeries, as other pelvic organs can still produce hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. In addition, transgender individuals who undergo genital reconstruction surgery may still experience menstrual bleeding in certain cases.
Why is it important to debunk the myth that transgender individuals cannot menstruate?
Debunking the myth that transgender individuals cannot menstruate is essential in creating a more inclusive and understanding society. Stigmas surrounding menstruation and transgender individuals can lead to exclusion, discrimination, and a lack of access to healthcare. It is important to recognize that everyone, regardless of gender identity or assigned sex, has unique experiences with their own bodies.
Breaking down stigmas
The stigma surrounding menstruation can lead to harmful stereotypes and assumptions about those who menstruate. These stigmas can be even more damaging for transgender individuals, who are already vulnerable to discrimination and exclusion. By recognizing that transgender individuals can menstruate, we can break down harmful stigmas and promote a more inclusive society.
Access to healthcare
Transgender individuals may avoid seeking healthcare due to fear of discrimination or a lack of knowledgeable providers. By recognizing that transgender individuals can experience menstruation, we can promote an inclusive healthcare environment where transgender individuals feel safe and supported. This can lead to better healthcare outcomes and a higher quality of life for all individuals.
The myth that transgender individuals cannot menstruate is just that: a myth. Transgender individuals can and do experience menstrual bleeding, with hormonal and surgical interventions impacting the frequency, intensity, and duration of periods. It is vital that we break down harmful stigmas and misconceptions surrounding transgender individuals and menstruation. Creating an inclusive society where all individuals feel supported and understood is our responsibility.
FAQs about Transgender Menstruation
Here are some of the most common questions and answers related to transgender individuals and menstruation:
Can transgender men have periods?
Yes, transgender men can experience menstruation. Hormonal and surgical interventions can impact the menstrual cycle, but transgender men may still experience bleeding.
Can transgender women have periods?
Yes, transgender women can experience periods. Hormonal therapy can be prescribed to induce menstruation and other menstrual symptoms.
Can non-binary individuals menstruate?
Yes, non-binary individuals can experience menstruation. Assigned sex at birth does not determine gender identity or whether someone will experience menstrual bleeding.
What impact does hormone therapy have on the menstrual cycle?
Hormone therapy can impact the menstrual cycle, causing changes in frequency, intensity, and duration. Testosterone can reduce the frequency of periods in transgender men, while estrogen and progesterone can induce menstrual bleeding in transgender women.
Does undergoing gender-affirming surgery stop menstruation altogether?
While gender-affirming surgery can impact the menstrual cycle, it does not necessarily stop it altogether. Vaginal bleeding can still occur after hysterectomy or oophorectomy in some cases.
Here are some sources used for this article:
- C. Benson-Martin, V. Ramsay, N. Barlow. “Trans menstruation: what do we know? A systematic review.” Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology. 2021; 34(4): 368-373.
- R. Grant, J. Mottet, J. Tanis, J. Harrison, J. Herman and M. Keisling. “Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.” 2011. National Center for Transgender Equality.
- S. Reisner, S. Radix, S. Deutsch. “Integrated and Gender-Affirming Transgender Clinical Care and Research.” The Lancet. 2016; 388(10042): 401-411.
- World Health Organization. “Sexual health, human rights and the law: Universal rights and responsibilities.” 2015.