Going through puberty and getting your first period can be challenging for anyone, and being transgender adds another emotional layer to that. It can be confusing and stressful when what is going on in your body biologically does not match how you are feeling and identify. The most important thing when learning about periods is to know that they’re normal and that having a period doesn’t mean that you don’t have to identify as a girl or woman. Not every person who identifies as a woman menstruates and not all people who menstruate identify as a woman.
Many, but not all trans, intersex, and nonbinary youth experience gender dysphoria. This is when a person experiences distress because of a mismatch between their anatomy and their gender identity. If you don’t identify as a girl but still get a period, this can cause discomfort and anxiety — especially because many people still equate menstruation with femaleness. Feelings of dysphoria can range from mildly annoying, to completely overwhelming, and can make you feel like skipping school, avoiding showers, and not wanting to see or talk to your family and friends.
When your identity, body, how you present yourself, and how others see you all fit together, this is called gender congruence, gender harmony, or gender euphoria. All of us need to feel gender congruence, and any lack of it can be distressing.
How to support yourself if you identify as trans, intersex, or nonbinary
If your period is causing overwhelming stress and anxiety, tell a trusted adult or seek out a gender-affirming health care provider who can present other options that will assist you to best align with your identity. If you are struggling with dysmorphia due to your period, try some of the tips below:
- Change your mindset. Try changing your thinking about your body and how it may serve and benefit you in other functional ways.
- Use period products that may contain packaging that is more gender-neutral or feel more comfortable to you. If inserting tampons causes you stress and discomfort, try period underwear or pads. If you want to avoid having to frequently change period products, then the menstrual cup may be a better option for you.
- Support and be kind to yourself especially when you are menstruating or experiencing PMS. Do something that is gender-affirming for yourself, such as wearing clothing or items that best fit your gender expression.
- Seek support. Find the right health care provider that can support you with gender-affirming recommendations for your period.
- Remember to track your period. Tracking your period helps you to be prepared for when your next period is coming with the products you like best. Access the BLOOM period tracker to have the information you need to be better prepared.