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Chocolate, a hot water bottle, a cup of tea

Illustration by Marta Pucci

Cycle A-Z

How to support trans people during their periods

by Jen Bell, Writer
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Periods can be a pain, especially when they give you gender dysphoria, but a little support from friends can make all the difference.

Previously we asked people how they feel about menstruating while trans. Now we’re offering some tips for their friends and loved ones.

1. Help with shopping

Offering support can be as simple as volunteering to get supplies, whether that’s tampons, chocolate, or something else.

“When I have my period I feel like I can’t do ANYTHING. I used to want to go on T (testosterone) just to stop getting my period. It’s a reminder of the uncontrollable decisions my body makes without my approval. [I’m grateful that] my friends check in with me and remind me it’s not the end of the world. I’d like to get more chocolate, sympathy, and love.”
—Anonymous, nonbinary, lesbian, 22, Washington DC, USA

“I would LOVE to be gifted with a 25-year membership for one of those mail-order period boxes. A monthly package arrives at my doorstep the week before my period is due, complete with my preferred brand of tampons, a variety of snacks, and painkillers strong enough to down a horse... That's the dream, really: Not having to do my own shopping for something I'm suffering through.”
—B, 24

“A nice hot water bottle and cuddle on those first few nights from my wife. Wet wipes, so no one sees the blood when leaving toilet cubicles. Chocolate deliveries. Or an equivalent for people who can’t have chocolate due to acid reflux—that would be good.”
—Anonymous, questioning/exploring being male, trans, queer, 42, London, England

2. Be understanding

A little understanding can go a long way. Sometimes people just need to feel heard—or excused from social events.

“Ideally I’d just like people to be understanding if I’m annoying during PMS.”
—Anonymous, nonbinary, trans, queer, 19, Lille, France

“At the moment, I receive a wonderful amount of support, really. Tea is made, sympathy is given, chocolate and chips are bought. Nobody harangues me about staying home from plans when I'm on my period (though I think a good 40% of that is because I'm really boring company during it).”
—B, 24

3. Ease the pain

Sometimes all that’s needed is to lend a friend your hot water bottle.

“During my period I have cramps and back pain that make me unable to do much, at least on the first day. I’d love to get a back massage, a hot water bottle, or a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) machine for my back pain.”
—Anonymous, nonbinary, trans, bi, 23, Brighton, UK

4. Change the way you talk about periods

Periods are not just a “woman thing.” Talking about periods, beyond gender affirms trans people with periods and changes cultural norms.

“I don't like people using menstruation as a way to draw a line for womanhood. You bleed =/= you are a woman. It doesn't work like that, like, even if you're cis or whatever, not every cis woman gets a period. Even at its most base logic, it's flawed. My aunt had both her breasts removed, and just had her uterus and ovaries removed, and is afraid she won't be a woman anymore. It hurts everyone to use organs and parts and whatever arbitrary measurement to define a person.”
—Fallon, nonbinary, Bi as hell [Fallon asked us to add, funny and charming] 27

“My friends are super great with periods and anything biology related. They’ve never used gendered terms, but it still causes dysphoria when they say things like “people with uteruses” because I don’t want to be reminded that’s what I have. Ideally I want to be able to say “my dick’s bleeding,” I know that would confuse people but it would make my dysphoria feel better.”
—Anonymous, agender, trans, bisexual, 19, Waterloo, Canada

5. Spread the word about gender-neutral period products

Whatever your gender, many people could do without excessively pink and flowery period products. For people who experience gender dysphoria, a few product adaptations—like boxer style period underwear, or pads that work with boxer briefs—can make periods that much more bearable.

“I get dysphoria during my period, and in addition I have to wear "feminine" underwear to use pads which only increases my dysphoria. I'd like to have underwear or protection adapted to my favorite underwear: boxer briefs.”
—Noam, nonbinary, trans, 16, Paris, France

6. Help find all-gender restrooms

Campaign for all-gender restrooms where you study or work, and don’t forget that all restrooms need sanitary bins and period supplies. Share, support, and contribute to resources like Refuge Restrooms—the app that helps people find all-gender bathrooms.

“I have extra dysphoria during my period, because I feel required to use the women's restroom—even though I want to use the men's. I want to see small trash cans in men's rooms, and/or more common gender-neutral restrooms. Also just normalizing menstruation and conversations surrounding it.”
—David Barrett, nonbinary, trans masculine, pansexual, 18, Akron, Ohio, USA

“Finding sanitary bins in male toilets is very hard in most places. It would be useful to have an app of genderqueer or all-gender toilets with sanitary bins available marked etc. Also: who is going to wash out a mooncup in the sink of a men’s toilet? No one.”
—Anonymous, questioning/exploring being male, trans, queer, 42, London, England

7. Give people a break, literally

Some workplaces offer paid leave for women with painful periods. If you’re working to make menstrual leave from work or school a possibility where you live, it’s essential to include trans and nonbinary people.

“My period makes everyday activities harder. I get severe PMS and it makes my gender dysphoria worse. I currently get comfort from friends during this time, but ideally I’d get days off school. Going to school when you’re extra dysphoric is a NIGHTMARE.”
—Anonymous, Nonbinary, Trans, queer, 19, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,

“Ideally, during my period I’d like a week or a few days off of work and school, so I don't have to worry about caring around “The Products”, or doubling over in the middle of conversation because I got hit with a particularly bad cramp. I dislike people seeing me in pain.”
—Fallon, nonbinary, Bi as hell, 27

8. Respect that not everyone wants to talk about their periods

Sometimes support means respecting a friend’s wish to keep their period to themselves. Some people don’t want to talk about their periods—and that’s OK.

“I don't want to acknowledge my period or have others acknowledge it. The main thing that would support me is for other people who have periods to not assume that they can talk to me about periods. I do not want to think about them, ever, and I don't want you coming to me for solidarity about them, because we are having very different experiences.”
—Anonymous, agender, trans, queer, 33, Brighton, UK

9. Ask your friend directly

Everyone is different. The experiences shared here can give you some ideas, but if you want to support someone, the first step is to ask them if they would like support, and what kind.

Read more about LGBT+ menstrual and reproductive health including trans people’s experiences with PCOS, endometriosis, birth control, and going to the doctor.

We’ve also written about dysphoria and the menstrual cycle, testosterone, and how to find a trans-friendly OB/GYN.

Download Clue to track your menstrual cycle, and check out our tips for tracking your period when you’re trans.

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