Menstruation around the world is a new series from Vulvani that seeks to show the diversity of menstrual experiences around the world. We portray people from different countries with their personal stories. Let’s explore the wonderful and diverse world of menstrual experiences together. I am very happy to start the new series with an exciting first interview.
SJ is from the United States and the times when he had his menstruation are finally over thanks to taking testosterone. He talks to us about periods as a transman. Many, many thanks for your openness and your stories, dear SJ!
Gender / sex: male / biologically born as a woman
Home: Lafayette, Indiana, USA
Studies: Masters in Higher Education
Job: Immigration counselor at a college
Age at first period: 11
Favourite period product: Tampon
Cost per menstruation: around 5 US-Dollar
Contraception method: Steril – no chance
1. How is menstruation seen in your family, culture or even country?
‘In my family, we were really open about talking about it, but that was mostly because my maternal grandmother gave no direction to my mother on what to do and how to do it. So she was bound to make sure I was knowledgeable. Overall though I feel like our country wants to act like women have a menstrual cycle is a very private thing. Additionally, men with a menstrual cycle makes you automatically not a man any many people’s eyes.’
2. How and by whom were you educated about menstruation?
‘My mother was very open about buying me pads and would talk all the time. We have two different view points on her education of tampons. Which I actually didn’t start using until college. I mostly never wanted to talk about my menstrual cycle, because I just didn’t relate to my gender surrounding it.’
3. Talk a little about your first period.
‘I remember not understanding exactly what was happening, and I suddenly felt very fainty and high anxiety. I actually recall going to the nurse and she said I looked “white and ghostly” and allowed me to call home stating I was “sick”. My dad actually picked me up and handled it like a champ, stopped and got me some pads and told me to try and put some heat on it.’
4. How do you feel about your own menstruation?
‘I actually hated having it and had so much dysphoria around it. Taking testosterone has stopped my menstruation and I’ve had a full hysto so I no longer have to worry about.’
5. Which menstrual products have you already tried?
‘Pads and tampons. Was always curious about the cup, but never tried it.’
6. What do you like to do when on your period?
‘I rarely ever allowed my period to stop me in doing anything. I do recall in some heavy bleeding times that I just felt wiped out and would take some advil etc and passout.’
7. What kind of food or home remedies helps you with menstrual discomfort?
‘On really bad times I would load up on ibuprofen and heat and sleep. Chocolate always comforted.’
8. Who are you talking to about menstruation?
‘Funny, its one of the first questions I get when I talk about being trans, “so you don’t have a period anymore? Lucky!” But wife still has cycles, so she will touch base when she is feeling low or I want to get it on and if she is in on her period we usually go for more massages and less intercourse. Additionally my daughter in the 5th grade so we had our first discussion about it this year, that its on the horizon.’
9. Do you have a particular funny or embarrassing menstruation story?
‘Actually yes, I was playing basketball in high school during a sectional tournament game, was a 9th grader playing on varsity. We had a term especially when we wore our white jerseys that if you had spotting on your uniform to yell “code orange” (because code red apparently was too obvious, lol). So we are in heat of the game and I am standing in front of our bench and one my teammates yells “Houston, code orange, code orange!” I literally forget everything I am supposed to be doing and travel with the basketball causing a turnover. Being a freshman our coach immediately pulls me out to yell at me, but I high tail it the locker room to change my shorts and put on a pad. He is perplexed on where I went and the assistant female coach turns and tells him and he shakes her off. Fast forward to practice to discuss the game and we are watching film and our coach covers that moment, and is like ” oh ya here is when Houston had code orange, we will just move on” All of the other girls thought it was awesome that our coach even knew what “code orange” was, meanwhile I was mortified.’
10. Want to share anything else about menstruation (or yourself)?
‘As a transman I think this is so important, just because you have a period doesn’t make you any less of a man. As a parent, I feel the shame already surrounding my daughter as she talks about potentially having a period and what that means. I try to change the narrative but would like to see it change as a whole society. Important work you are doing!’
Do you want to become part of ‘Menstruation around the world’?
We hope to be able to present the portraits of menstruating people as varied and diverse as possible. And for this we need you – no matter how you feel about your own menstruation or where you come from! If you would like to be part of this series and share your personal experiences and thoughts about menstruation with us, please write us a message or simply fill out this questionnaire (anonymously is also possible). We are already looking forward to sharing your story with the Vulvani community!