Periods and gender

Questions and discussions about your bodies and their parts.
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Periods and gender

Unread postby al » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:43 pm

If you get periods regularly, how do they make you feel about yourself? Does it contribute to feelings of gender dysphoria (discomfort, anxiety, or frustration felt by a transgender or gender non-conforming person when they feel that the way that they look or are perceived doesn't match up with how they identify) or euphoria ([i]the opposite of dysphoria - feelings of congruence and comfort with gender presentation and identity)?

It's hard for me to say how my periods made me feel gender-wise; because they were accompanied by so much pain and awful bodily functions due to endometriosis, I didn't have much time to think about how they related to my gender identity. I pretty much suppressed them as much as possible, because I dreaded them.
Now that I don't have them anymore, I find that I do kind of miss them, just because I think they're so cool. Human bodies are capable of amazing things, and the more that I learn about the menstrual and reproductive cycles, the more in awe I feel that bodies are capable of going through so many complex changes like clockwork every month. I don't think I really appreciated it when I was going through it (understandably).

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Re: Periods and gender

Unread postby Mo » Fri Mar 22, 2019 4:48 pm

I remember really trying to make peace with my periods for a long time, even though they tended to be unpleasant at best due to a lot of pain and irregularity. Long before I questioned my gender I remember reading some books that tried to tie menstruation in with the "sacred feminine" and trying to find comfort in that interpretation of what my body was doing, but it just didn't stick. When I did start to realize I wasn't a girl, my periods remained kind of a pain but oddly enough they didn't cause a lot of dysphoria; they just continued to be inconvenient and painful more than anything else.
I think the largest impact my periods had on my gender-feelings was that if I wanted to use pads or liners to back up a tampon or menstrual cup, I couldn't wear the boxers I'd become much more comfortable wearing, so I had to switch back to my old bikini-cut underwear for a week at a time which was frustrating.

I'm with you, Al, in that I do sometimes vaguely miss menstruating even though I didn't enjoy it at the time! It's kind of weird to think about something that was so constant for half of my life but that I won't experience again. I still have a memory of the specific kind of pain caused by cramps but I know it's only a memory that will degrade over time. If nothing else, I'm glad it's an experience I had so that I can have a sense of how my friends are feeling if they're having cramps or other menstrual issues, and can shoot some sympathy their way.

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Re: Periods and gender

Unread postby ShadowSong21 » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:42 am

I may be out of my place here, but I do not have periods and that gives me a good chunk of dysphoria, as in something is lacking or missing that I'm suppose to have.

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Re: Periods and gender

Unread postby Heather » Wed Apr 03, 2019 8:38 am

I don't think you're out of place in this.

I think your POV is important for a few reasons, too: what you're describing is something trans women often struggle with, but also something that many cisgender women do once they are peri/menopausal. There's a LOT out there that suggests periods = womanhood (a thing there is no end to my personal and professional complicated feelings about), so I'd say quite a lot of people struggle at one time or another with feeling like periods basically outright give or make or prove feminine sex or gender.

As I'm entering menopause, one thing I keep finding is that I certainly seem to feel differently about it than some of my peers in this regard: I don't and am not (not so far anyway) experiencing feeling like it's having any impact on my gender, but then I am and have always felt pretty genderqueer, and even in the ways or at the times I feel like/identify as a woman, I'd say that's more political than physical for me, if that makes sense. When it has been physical for me, my sense of physicality as a woman has generally not been particularly feminine, and also has not generally been connected (nor have my periods) with the ability to make babies, save as it impacts my health and my rights and lack of either.

(My periods also have been very painful and disruptive for almost four decades of my life, so them finally winding down and starting to give me a break is a net positive for me no matter what.)

It'll be interesting, I think, to see how I feel when I'm all the way at the end of it. Maybe it'll be the same, and all around have been something that just wasn't really about my gender and didn't play a part in my ideas about gender, but you never know: I may wind up finding out it had more of an impact than I thought.
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