The conversation surrounding menstruation has largely been women-centric, is it time to go beyond the binary and include trans men, and queer folks?
‘Bleeding makes me feel empowered’ is one of my go-to statements while I am menstruating. Most of the cis-gendered womxn I have encountered are surrounded by differing experiences, from squirming ovaries to period sex. Come womxn’s day, menstrual hygiene management, sanitary products, cramps, advertisements, literature, most of them cease to acknowledge that, not all womxn menstruate and not all people who menstruate are womxn.
Always, a menstrual product company owned by Procter and Gamble removed the ‘Venus’ symbol from their products, thus, dissociating their product packaging with womxn, making it more inclusive. Cis-womxn felt rather excluded believing that they are being erased from the conversations. They have criticised the inclusion of non-binary, trans men, and individuals of other genders and considered it disrespectful. What is feminism if not intersectional?
A chance encounter with Vihaan Peethambar, Queer Feminist and Trans Activist at a Summit in Delhi last year threw light on the idea of trans men aka, those individuals who were assigned female at birth, implying that they menstruate well into their transition. We as a society tend to draw the line of womanhood at menstruation. We equate menstruation with feminity.
Gender does not have anything to do with one’s biological anatomy. Vihaan talks of the sheer disparity of bringing the non-binary and queer folks into the conversation surrounding menstruation. Anyone with a functioning uterus, ovaries, and hormonal system will menstruate until menopause. Umaima, a cis-gendered woman says, “The problematic aspect of the approach towards a subject which itself is a taboo is when womxn talk of mensuration in the specificity of it being about them and their oppression which is the partial truth. It sort of puts them in a superior light of oppression than those who disassociate from binary therefore furthering a difference of gender which shouldn’t exist in the first place.”
A gynaecologist in conversation with sheknows says, “If you have a uterus and aren’t pregnant/breastfeeding, menopausal, hormonally suppressing your periods, or dealing with a condition like PCOS, then you’re likely menstruating.” It is essential to disregard gender as a societal construct and focus on the functioning of the uterus. Sex-education is highly heteronormative and tends to chunk out a large community altogether. Transmen find menstruation a reminder of their ‘feminity’, a part of them that they would want to shed. It is a blaring alarm pointing towards their gender dysphoria. Streamlining the conversation towards cis-womxn and limiting it to womanhood, empowerment, and unleashing one’s power of reproduction eliminates and ostracises conversations, social action, public health, and legislative measures of an entire community.
The feminist movement has failed if its sense of feminism limits itself to cis-gendered womxn. It goes beyond the binary, intersectionality is the future of feminist discourse, it is time that the narrative incorporates womxn.
Feature Image Credits: helloclue