How can you support gender-diverse young people who have periods? WUKA experts discuss the menstrual cycle and ways to promote inclusion for all.
What does gender-diverse mean?
Let’s start off by getting us all on the same page, using the United Nations’ definition:
“Gender identity refers to each person's deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.
The term "gender-diverse" is used to refer to persons whose gender identity, including their gender expression, is at odds with what is perceived as being the gender norm in a particular context at a particular point in time, including those who do not place themselves in the male/female binary; the more specific term "trans" is used to describe persons who identify with a different sex than the one assigned to them at birth.”
The 2021 National Census for England and Wales asked over 16s a voluntary question about gender identity, and whether the gender the respondent identified with was the same as their sex registered at birth. In total, 94% of the population aged over 16 chose to answer the question, with 93.5% saying yes. 6% did not answer the question, and 0.5% said no- that’s 262,000 over 16s saying that they did not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth.
This was the first time the National Census included data collection on gender-diversity, in an effort to better inform equality monitoring- and it’s a definite step in the right direction for inclusion.
How can we support gender diverse people having periods?
As parents, we need to support gender-diverse young people who have periods, and to do this we need to know that there is a difference between gender and sex.
Gender is not assigned at birth, it’s shaped by many things. It’s how you present yourself to the world- the clothes you wear, the way you act and the way you feel about yourself. Sex is assigned at birth, depending on your reproductive organs, but it does not determine your gender.
When it comes to periods, the traditional belief is that they only affect women. And while its true that the menstrual cycle is a biological process that occurs within the female body, having a period doesn’t actually change anything about your gender.
If you are a trans man, or a non-binary person you may still have a period. Likewise, if you don’t experience menstruation, your gender identity and the way that others treat you should remain unaffected.
So how can we support gender-diverse you people who bleed? First, we need to remove the stigmas that surround the entire topic. Smash the taboos. Talk about periods, openly and and honestly. We need to educate ourselves and others on not only menstruation, but about how gender identity fits into it all too.
Talk to young people about periods
Nothing will change if we shy away from the conversations. We need to learn more about gender identity and periods, so that we can support young people better, and remove the barriers that young people face when it comes to additional stigma.
If you talk to your child you can learn a lot about their thoughts and feelings towards their own gender identity and periods. It helps to understand what happens during a period and why, and to discuss the biological processes that take pace during each menstrual cycle.
Being able to have these conversations will help to de-stigmatise periods, and can help to normalise the entire process, enabling us all to learn more about the menstrual issues that trans people face.
Talk to young people about period products
Everyone deserves to have access to clean and safe period products, no matter what their gender identity. Period poverty is an issue that affects us all, full stop.
We need to talk to young people about the products that are available to them to help them to manage their period. We need to let them make informed decisions about the methods of period protection they feel most comfortable with.
We also need to understand the problems that trans men face when using period products in public loos, or at school, or the issues they face when they cannot afford to buy them full stop.
Use inclusive language
The language we use is important, and gendered words such as ‘girl’ or ‘woman’ aren’t always helpful. Inclusive language helps us to ensure that people don’t feel isolated or discriminated against- so use language such as ‘people who menstruate/ have periods’ and ‘menstrual products’.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone about the words they’re more comfortable using.
We are our children’s advocates. We need to support them and guide them, and to do this we need to promote inclusion. We need our young people to know that they are cared for and supported, and that nothing- not even a period- can hold them back fro achieving their goals.
How can WUKA period pants support gender diverse young people?
We believe that gendered barriers to period comfort should be broken down. We want to make period comfort accessible to the trans, gender fluid and non-binary communities, and be a platform that can support everyone.
As we strive to improve access to sustainable period products, eliminate period poverty and remove period shame and stigma, it’s important that we consider diverse experiences, and we believe that reusable period underwear can help.
Reusable period underwear is a great option for everyone who bleeds. Period pants are super comfortable, taking away the stress of having to hide a tampon up your sleeve or wear a bulky pad. Period pants have a long life span too (up to two years, if cared for properly), meaning that young people who cannot afford period products do not need to repeatedly ask for more supplies.
Period pants are also a great idea for those who do not want to visit the ‘feminine’ aisle in the supermarket, or to insert a tampon. For people who are out and using male loos without sanitary bins provided. For anyone who bleeds, and just wants to get on with life.
Period pants are fully inclusive, available to all and more than up to the job of absorbing your flow when you need them to.
Shop WUKA Teen Stretch
WUKA Teen Stretch period pants are multi-sized, constructed so that they can grow bi-directionally to custom fit a large range of size. One pair is guaranteed to fit body shapes up to three different sizes, meaning that parents and teen period pant wearers don’t need to buy new pants every time their size and shape changes.
Shop WUKA boxer Shorts
WUKA Boxer Shorts are made from responsibly sourced and sustainable Tencel fabric. They’re leak proof, comfortable and have full coverage. Like all our period pants, you just wear them in place of your normal underwear. Wear, bleed, wash, repeat.
Are periods gender neutral?
The menstrual cycle is a biological function that occurs within the female body. But the sex you’re assigned at birth does not determine your gender. A trans man can have a period, just as a cisgender woman may not menstruate. Periods are gender neutral.
Can periods cause gender dysphoria?
For some trans and non-binary people, having a period can be difficult and may lead to gender dysphoria. According to the NHS, this is the term given when a person intensely feels that their gender identity does not align with their biological sex. It can lead to depression and anxiety.
If you’re concerned about gender dysphoria, speak to your GP to discuss treatment options that could be available to you.
Are period pants inclusive?
Yes! Period pants can be worn by any body, any size and any shape. If you bleed, you can bleed into period pants and you do not need to use any other form of period protection