If there was ever a time to ask “how” in your Kanye voice, now would be it. There are many things about trans identity that society is working – and struggling – to understand, but there are also some things that are biologically impossible and we’re pretty sure someone who was physiologically born a man menstruating is one of them. Yet that didn’t stop Dana Beyer, a trans woman and Executive Director of Gender Rights Maryland, from claiming to have had one.
In a piece on the Huffington Post asking, “What Makes a Woman?” Beyer responded to a Sunday New York Times’ piece of the same name that expressed the sentiment that trans women and women born female are not the same. Burkett wrote, plainly:
“Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails. They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway…”
Unless, of course, you’re Beyer who retorted on HuffPo:
“My truth is not yours, nor my female identity yours, either. But I have my truth and my female identity, and all I ask is that you respect mine as I respect yours. I have travelled through the world as a woman and been shaped by it, just not for as long as you. I’ve suffered through such business meetings as you have, even more aware of the dismissiveness of men because once upon a time I was visible to them. I coped with the onset of my period in a manner that would horrify you, but you’ve already made the inference that I never had a period and that’s a basic mistake. I’m a lot physically weaker than I used to be, and it’s true I never had to worry about getting pregnant, just getting someone pregnant.”
While it’s frowned upon to imply that you’re only a “real” woman if you menstruate. It’s also not cool to equate anything short of menstruation with a period. Even with gender reassignment surgery, trans women do not have ovaries or uteri so having a period – as most biological women understand and experience it – is impossible. What is possible is that if trans women continue hormone therapy, they may experience mood swings and side effects similar to periods – without the bleeding of course – that might cause someone like Beyer to imply they have actually had a period. Still, one of those things is not like the other and, in reality, they don’t need to be.
In this day and age it’s come to be expected, and slowly accepted, that everyone has their own truths. But truth and fact are two separate things. So while it may be true that some trans women feel like they have their period. Science tells us that at this moment in time that’s factually impossible. And that’s okay. There’s no need to try to out-woman other women for the sake of acceptance, particularly when going about it in such a false manner is likely to evoke more disbelief and suspicion of the trans-female experience than sympathy and understanding. And if we’re being honest here, most women would likely give up this little monthly “gift” anyway so trans women be glad you don’t actually have to menstruate.