Material Reality Matters
We need to stop confusing children and harming women's healthcare
After giving birth to my second child at the age of 35, my periods got heavier. At my annual checkup I mentioned this to my gynecologist as a concern.
“Are you able to leave the house?” she asked me.
“What the hell?!” was pretty much my reply. I couldn’t imagine a situation where your period might prevent you from leaving the house, and she was implying that it was only worthy of medical attention at that point.
Fast-forward five, eight, ten years. Every year I told her my periods were getting heavier, and every year she asked the same question. Every year, the answer became more qualified, until eventually it was, “Some days I can’t leave the house, but it’s only for one or two days of my period.”
At that point, I was bleeding 10 days on, 10 days off. And yes, I bled so much that there were days I would not contemplate leaving the house: I used the biggest tampons you can buy, plus a maxi pad, and sometimes I would bleed through to my clothes in 30 minutes. Changing a tampon looked like a massacre: blood flew everywhere when I took it out. Sometimes, there were chunks as big as the palm of my hand.
But periods, right. As women, we just live with them. So I worked around it. Some days I didn’t leave the house because I was bleeding so much, and that was fine. I was chronically anaemic, with low energy and low mood, and always feeling cold even on the warmest days. Taking iron supplements did absolutely nothing. “Don’t worry,” said my GP when I asked about the anaemia. “You’re only about 10 years away from menopause.”
Why am I talking about this on a substack for parents of gender questioning children? Because I am one of those anonymous parents, and this is the only place I have to voice my issues. And I am angry. I am furious. I see companies that offer period products writing about transwomen having periods, and transwomen on TikTok complaining about their periods. And I want to scream it from the rooftops: “YOU CANNOT HAVE A PERIOD!”
I suffered for 10 years with a health problem caused by my period. I had a hysterectomy and nearly died from the complications. And you know what: after having my uterus taken out, I no longer have periods. I still have monthly hormone fluctuations, because I kept my ovaries. But I do not have periods, because YOU NEED A UTERUS TO HAVE A PERIOD.
My god. Are we now so far removed from reality that a man with stomach cramps can claim to have a period? This is literally, physiologically impossible, but the world is asking us to “be kind” and “respect” transwomen’s periods. Dudes, it’s not a period. It’s probably the spironolactone giving you stomach ache.
Periods are not just pain, or an “emotional period”. Periods are, more than anything else, bloody. Even women with light periods have to manage the blood. Women like me who suffer from menorrhagia - and that is a full 30% of women who have periods (El-Hemaidi et al, 2007) - have to deal with such huge amounts of blood that it can profoundly impact on their quality of life.
Men taking estrogen, get a fucking grip. You’re not having periods. Your grasp on reality was already tenuous, but this is beyond the pale. You’re insulting half the world’s population. You’re having a fun little game of pretend while actual women who have actual periods struggle to get taken seriously by healthcare providers. And us parents have to watch helplessly as our kids grow up in a world where this farce is becoming the gospel truth. No thank you.
El-Hemaidi, I, Gharaibeh, A & Shehata, H (2007). ‘Menorrhagia and bleeding disorders’. Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology, 19(6), pp.513–520. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18007127/