Thoughts on Menstruation

20 07 2008

On June 6, the day before my transition party, I began my first post-testosterone period. I found it very ironic that I should be on the rag for a party celebrating my transition from female-to-male. I figured I would have 1-2 more periods after that. About two weeks ago, I started the familiar PMS. First, I had a sore throat (I know, weird, but that’s been going on for about a year.) Then cramping and vaginal dryness (TMI?). Then moodiness. But then . . . no period! I’m still waiting with baited breath in case it’s just late. But it’s quite possible that my first post-T period was my last. Time will tell.

As I contemplate a future without menstruation, part of me is thrilled at not having to deal with the various inconveniences associated with feminine monthly bleeding. The expense of female sanitary products as well as the ambiguous “safe” nature of white-washed pads and tampons are things I won’t miss (I tried a menstrual cup a few years ago but the tip of it kept poking at me from inside no matter how short I cut it. I have a weird vagina though and I hear it works really well for most women so I encourage menstruating females to at least try it. You save money and save your inner genitals from harsh chemicals. But I digress.) Nor will I miss the constant paranoia about leaking and showing, or the disappointment when one’s period starts a day or so before something fun such as a trip, a hot potentially matressable date or . . . ummm  . . .  one’s transition party. What I will miss the least is PMS. For the past 6-7 years, I’ve had horrible PMS. For a few days every month, I’ve suffered from extreme feelings of inadequacy, incompetence and loneliness (i.e. I look horrible, I can’t do anything right, I have never accomplished anything of worth, no one loves me, I have no real friends, etc.)

However, part of me will miss what I came to see as an empowering process. Studying anthropology and conducting fieldwork with a Native Canadian family that viewed menstruation as something powerful helped me see that it wasn’t the vile, disgusting process that I was raised to see it as. Rather, it’s a purifying and cleansing process. People sometimes hear stories about societies where women were isolated during menstruation and assume that this meant that women were oppressed. Well, maybe the men in those societies saw it that way (or maybe not . . .maybe they were misinterpreted by Euro-centric and androcentric anthropologists) but according to some of the comments coming from women themselves, menstrual seclusion is far from degrading. Instead, it gives women a break from the daily grind and a chance to peacefully commune with other women. If I were less lazy, I would dig up some actual references but . . .I’m feeling lazy.

In spite of the above-mentioned hassles, then, I had come to see menstruation as something powerful. I found meaning in it. It gave me a certain connection with the earth. And now, as I wonder if I will have one last period, I look for ways to maintain that connection.

Now that I’ve experienced PMS with no immediate period after, I realise that menstruation, for me, was also about release. All the frustrations and sadness disappeared once I started bleeding. So now I’m in this weird liminal state induced by PMS but not alleviated by menstruation.

There is society called the Wogeo in New Guinea where men would cut themselves on a regular basis to mimic menstruation. (I’m not sure if they do it today as many Indigenous peoples around the world have abandoned customs due to colonisation and globalisation. I’m not familiar enough with that part of the world to make any guesses.) But regular bleeding, I think, is something that I would want to maintain in my life somehow, like these menstruating men of Wogeo. I’m not doing the evil cultural appropriation thing, of course, as I would not do their rituals but I’m incorporating the idea of bleeding into my worldview. In my case, though, it’s about continuity and connecting to my female past. It’s about maintaining something that was a part of my life for about 24 years but, this time, on my own terms.




9 responses

21 07 2008

You always have such a unique take on these things. It sounds like some sort of male monthly ritual might be appropriate. I’ve had similar thoughts, and will let my developing male rhythm guide how that comes together. This might be overly literal, but as regular bleeding is a good thing for transguys (it helps keep hemocrit levels balanced) giving blood regularly might work it’s way into my rhythm of life.

For another unique take on transmen and bleeding, check out SF XXboy Fritz (bottom third of the page.)

21 07 2008
Jacky V.

I’ll check out that link soon. I heard a long time ago that it was good for men in general to give blood regularly since they didn’t have periods. I don’t know if there is any scientific legitamacy to that claim. I tried to give blood a couple of times in my life and passed out both times so I’m thinking more along the lines of scarrification. It can’t be monthly . . . I’ll run out of skin!!!

21 07 2008

Interesting ideas!
I’m not alowed to give blood, because I’m gay and sexually active.
I remember hearing about the father of western medicin, an acient greek guy, can’t remember his name, who stated that menstruation didn’t have to come through the vagina, but could be nose bleed f.ex. I liked the thought, although it’s wrong, because it helped me think of it as more normal and less scary.

21 07 2008
Jacky V.

Hmmm. I hadn’t thought about that. I think they have the same regulation here about giving blood: men who have sex with men aren’t allowed. I’m theoretically bi but I can’t seem to find interested male partners these days. Well, there are some but I’m not that into them. It’s always like that: guys that I like aren’t interested and guys that I “so so” like ARE interested. *BIG SIGH*

21 07 2008

My endo recommends giving blood, I don’t know the science behind it though. If you can’t give blood, you can still “get bled” in your doctor’s office. Sounds like fun, eh?! 😉

21 07 2008
Jacky V.

I’m not sure where I got the info but I think that it’s something about our blood renewing itself.

3 09 2008

Hey there,
Its funny, I just had this conversation with my Endo. According to him…if the T level you are on is correct….you should have zero symptoms of menstruation..including PMS. just hought I would share.

I was having slight PMS and night sweats. He upped my shot by a line on the saringe and it has all stopped.

25 03 2009
Menstruation and being trans: the blogaround! « Gender Goggles

[…] Thoughts on Menstruation, from Tboy Jacky. On June 6, the day before my transition party, I began my first post-testosterone period. I found it very ironic that I should be on the rag for a party celebrating my transition from female-to-male. […]

22 12 2009
100th post! « Tboy Jacky

[…] Thoughts on menstruation […]

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