Going through puberty and getting your first period can be challenging for anyone, and being transgender adds another emotional layer to that. Many, but not all trans 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 your preteen or teen doesn’t identify as a girl but still gets a period, this can cause discomfort and anxiety — especially because many people still equate menstruation with femaleness.
The most important thing when talking about periods with your trans or nonbinary preteen or teen is to mention that they’re normal and that they do not mean that your child is a girl or woman. Be gentle, be flexible, and don’t be pushy. Offer your preteen or teen lots of resources and listen to what they have to say. They’ll open up when they’re ready.
Be mindful of your language
Changing the way you talk about periods with your child can make a huge difference. It’s easy to make statements like “now you’re a woman!” but try not to. Speak about periods in a gender-neutral way. You can say “menstrual products” instead of “feminine products.” It’s a small change in language, but you can make period talk feel much more affirming for your preteen or teen. If you change how you think and talk about periods, your child might be more willing to talk with you about them.
Ask how they want to talk about their period
Once you’ve changed your own language, a good next step is to find out how your preteen or teen wants to talk about it. Maybe they want to call it their “time of the month,” or maybe saying “period” is fine for them. The important thing is that you ask them! Reassure them that you want to talk about their period on their terms, and then listen and use the language they ask you to use.
Help them find period products
Ask your preteen or teen what kinds of period products they want, and be willing to experiment. Some trans youth don’t like how pads make them very aware they are bleeding, and some don’t like tampons or menstrual cups because they don’t want to insert anything in their vagina. Offer to get your preteen or teen whatever products make them feel good. Be flexible — what might feel good one month might not feel good another one.
Encourage period tracking
When your preteen or teen tracks their period they can be prepared for when their next period is coming, and have all the information they need for their next doctor or gynecologist visit. You can help your young person start to track their period with BLOOM’s Teen Period Tracker
Finding more support
If menstruating really bothers your preteen or teen, seek support – find the right health care provider that can support you and your preteen or teen with gender-affirming recommendations for their period.