Many transgender men have a disconcerting problem that they have to deal with every month, their periods.
For a lot of men of the trans experience their periods are a monthly reminder that their gender identity does not match their physical traits. Trans men don’t all decide to have gender reassignment surgeries, therefore many of them still get their periods every month.
— Sawyer (@SawyerDeVuyst) November 14, 2015
“Basically my period was a reminder that my body did not match my gender identity,” one transgender man wrote of his monthly struggle on Sex, Etc. “This sense of disconnection between body and mind led to depression, mood swings and negative coping mechanisms, like self-harm.”
“Most women have a hard time talking about their periods, and it is that much worse for trans men,” Sawyer DeVuyst, a trans male who transitioned seven years ago, told Forbes Magazine.
“Here I was trying to live a life as a trans man, yet I had my period every month. I’d be in the mens bathroom with guys around me peeing while I changed my tampon. It made my discomfort with my body that much worse.”
While the bathroom situation can be particularly embarrassing for transgender men, the risk of blood leakage can be even more so. It can also be dangerous for them, Forbes reports. Any blood stains on pants can out transgender men and make them a target for violent attacks.
That’s where underwear brand, THINX comes in, Mashable reports. THINX underwear contains an insert that is absorbent and anti-microbial which helps to prevent leakage during menstruation. The brand was originally designed as “underwear for women who get periods.”
But soon they started getting lots of feedback from transgender men who were telling them that women weren’t the only ones who get their periods every month. Miki Agrawal, the CEO of THINX, says that she never even considered including transgender men into their target demographic.
“We hadn’t give a lot of thought to it, which is not super surprising given the lack of trans male visibility even now,” she says. After her team conducted lots of research they realized that there was a huge need to market their brand of underwear to both women and transgender men.
According to Forbes, there are approximately 700,000 transgender people living in the United States. About half of them are men who have made the transition from a feminine gender identity to a masculine one.
No matter what you identify as, man or woman, we’re all human…. https://t.co/BrWosM9wNS
— LA JOCK (@LAJOCK_weho) November 6, 2015
Transgender people are a particularly vulnerable group in American society.
According to the Youth Suicide Prevention program, suicide rates among transgender teens are high. Their studies have found that over 50 percent of transgender teens have commit suicide before they’re in their 20s.
The 2011 Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that over 10 percent of transgender youth say that they have been sexually assaulted in K–12 school settings either by peers or by staff at their schools. Thirteen percent of African-American transgender people who participated in the survey say they were sexually assaulted in the workplace. In addition, 22 percent of homeless transgender men and transgender women were sexually assaulted when they stay in shelters.
It may seem like something insignificant to people who aren’t part of the transgender community, but period-friendly underwear like THINX could help transgender men live happier lives with a little less shame about their bodies and gender identity.
“If our goal is to break this taboo and eliminate the shame associate with periods globally, we’ve got to do that for everyone,” Miki Agrawal says.
THINX has since expanded its product selection to reflect its inclusion of transgender men. According to Forbes, they have added a boyshort model particularly for men of the trans experience and the tagline for them is: “For People with Periods.”
[Photo via THINX]