Social media campaign #IfMenHadPeriods may be well-meaning, but it gets the whole struggle wrong. OB/GYN Jennifer Gunter created the hashtag, intending to illuminate the struggles that people with uteruses have, but completely ignored the trans population in the process.
As we all know, intent does not mitigate impact.
The problem with reducing folks to their genitalia is just that: we are more than our biology. If a cis woman’s period were to stop tomorrow and she found out that she was unable to conceive, that would make her no less of a woman, just as a loss of testicles makes a cis-man no less of a man. It is no different for trans folks — not having the money for T, estrogen or a mastectomy does not make you any less of a man, woman or however you identify. When we reinforce the cis gender binary, we ignore what really makes a person a person: their “heart” and their minds.
While Gunter, the originator of the hashtag, may have held no ill intent towards trans folks, trans-exclusionary radical feminists known as TERFs are latching onto the campaign with the voracity of a bigoted vampire. Internet-savvy TERF’s have been known to dox, troll, picket and generally harass trans folk — to the point of earning the title “The Westboro Baptist Church of Feminism.”
Related: Introducing: Menstrual Cups
They had a field day with Planned Parenthood, which chooses to refer to those who menstruate as “menstruators.”
— GirlsLikeUs♀ (@FemalesLikeUs) September 3, 2016
Thankfully, there are others who advocate for the rights and recognition of trans folks, even if they are not transgender, gender neutral or non-binary themselves.
While this highly cisnormative hashtag is trending, I want to remind everyone that trans men do exist + some have periods.
— Feminism Vibes (@feminismvibes) September 6, 2016
— Jason Cantrell (@cantrellwriter) September 6, 2016
The world would be a very, very different place indeed if cis men had periods. However, sweeping statements like this exclude and ignore the entire trans community. We can’t lift each other up if we’re busy pushing other oppressed groups down in the process.
It should not be too much to ask allies to be mindful; hopefully this mistake will be a learning experience for Gunter and those of us who are working toward being better allies. We need to listen when called out or called in. We can’t change the world if we are unwilling to first change ourselves.