Menstruation and Gender Dysphoria

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By YAB Member Paige (16) from Bakersfield

For transgender people, gender dysphoria can be a difficult experience to manage. From binding or packing, to using different pronouns, to even cutting hair, there are many methods out there to help alleviate dysphoria. One thing that I haven’t seen much of during my journey with gender dysphoria and identity, is tips for handling menstruation. Menstruation is really hard to talk about because it is a very strong source of discomfort for me, but alleviating dysphoria is still important to talk about. Here’s a list of tips I’ve learned over the past few months that may help alleviate dysphoria mentally and physically:

Mental Options:

    1. Use Men’s Products – For trans-masculine and non-binary people, you might find that using products marketed towards men to help with symptoms may be gender-affirming. This can include men’s teas or hot water bottles marketed for men.
    2. Find Words that Work- Sometimes specific words can trigger dysphoria especially surrounding this issue. For example, “period” vs. “menstruation,” one may feel better than the other. Play around with terminology to find what works you and if you are safe and comfortable with it, ask others in your life to use these terms with you!
    3. Find Gender-Neutral Tracking Apps- A few apps exist that are gender neutral and help track menstruation. These include the Planned Parenthood app and the Clue app. The Planned Parenthood app also allows for appointment scheduling within the app!
    4. Talk to Others with Gender Dysphoria- Talking to others within LGBTQ+ and specifically trans spaces can help alleviate gender dysphoria by creating more security in identity. It’s also a great way to learn more tips that may help you!

Physical Options:

    1. Underwear Liners for Men: The easiest option to adjust to physically is using underwear liners for men. Sanitary pads can be difficult to use with certain types of “masculine” underwear like boxers and briefs. Using underwear liners designed for men eliminates these issues and may have gender-affirming effects as mentioned above.
    2. Menstrual Cup: Using a menstrual cup can eliminate dysphoria by reducing the amount of change that occurs to everyday life while menstruating. They do not need to be changed as often as tampons and do not show blood as often as with sanitary pads.
    3. Menstruation Specific Underwear: With menstruation specific underwear, a person is able to wear only underwear and simply wash it after so much time without it leaking onto outer clothes. Many brands are gender neutral and even include more “masculine” types of underwear such as boy-shorts which can be very affirming.
    4. Birth Control
      1. Hormonal methods- With certain types of birth control, a person can take a pill once every day or use a patch or ring to not menstruate for longer periods of time. The major downside is that a person still has to menstruate every few months.
      2. Long acting methods- With an implant or IUD, a person can stop their period for longer periods of time and does not have to remember to take a birth control pill daily which can be much more convenient.
    5. Hormones- If a person goes through gender therapy and is recommended to a doctor, they can get Testosterone and possibly stop menstruation. Testosterone affects every body differently and it’s best to discuss HRT (hormone replacement therapy) with a doctor.

Overall, everyone has different dysphoria and you may not experience menstruation-based dysphoria at all! This list is simply a compilation of suggestions that might help you or someone you know. Remember that people of all genders menstruate and you are not alone on this journey of self-discovery! To learn more, check out:

https://www.glaad.org/transgender/resources

https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth-resources.htm

https://www.glaad.org/resourcelist