Written by fēnix grace.
Art by Nolwen Cifuentes.
My relationship with my period is complex. I value it. It’s pretty fucking cool that so much blood comes out of my body and I do not die from it. It makes me feel fierce and strong, and it can be a time of deep and soft reflection with myself. I also hate it. I dread it. I fantasize about taking enough T for it to go away. I feel weighed down by the dysphoria of it. I want it gone.
I realize that all people conditioned by modern systems of oppression have been taught to be disgusted by the natural process of regular (or irregular) uterine bleeding. As a person assigned female at birth, I have experienced firsthand the ways this has negatively impacted my relationship to my body. I understand why modern cis-women healers call for the reclamation of a relationship with bleeding cycles. Having internalized disgust at a bodily process that happens pretty frequently for some people can be deeply traumatizing and self-harming, so I support the desire to empower things that have been cast as chthonic—and therefore banished—as a result of the patriarchy.
Being a non-binary person, what is also traumatizing is when these same cis-women healers do not leave much space for all kinds of feelings and perspectives about periods. Or when they completely forget that not everyone who bleeds is a woman. Or that some women will never bleed, and that does not make them any less of a woman. Or, they “recognize” or “name” these things, but still continue to center themselves and their experiences in conversations about menstruation.
I cannot fit into mainstream conversations about periods. They are not written for people like me.
Why do some of us have such intense and hate-filled relationships with our cycles? This answer differs according to who you ask. What I have found during my own self-investigation process is that hatred for my cycle is connected to what it represents to me—or, rather, what cis-heteropatriarchy taught me that bleeding is supposed to be about. It’s about “womanhood,” and every time I get my period, I am confronted again with my own dysphoria and gender trauma. I am not a woman, and so somehow I must be wrong. People assume that I am a woman, though, and that hurts. (Seriously, stop doing that.)
I cannot fit into mainstream conversations about periods. They are not written for people like me. They are actually written to erase my identity or any identity that is not cis and usually also white/straight women.
My bleeding and my relationship to it cannot be contained or explained by a heteronormative gender binary. When I am bleeding, my sense of time shifts into a deep and vast slowness. I enter a state of no beginnings, no endings, no words. An ambiguous place between the worlds of rising and falling life force that has no destination or impulse other than to flow. This liminality is one of my favorite aspects of being a bleeder, and it is also something that I experience as intrinsic to an anti-capitalist and queer love. This practice of bending time is for me very similar to the art of gender-bending, finding one’s selves between and of many different landscapes and textures of feeling.
I’m here for us as queer folks carving our own pathways to sacredness when it comes to bleeding and periods, and I believe that it is time that these pathways are centralized—even in cis-het spaces. The world needs more complicated ways of embracing bodies who bleed and bodies who don’t want to. We need to make sacred our pain and our hatred and our enjoyment of our cycles, and we need to redefine periods on our own terms. Stripping away its alleged inherent connection to womanhood and queering it the fuck up.
Society can learn from the permission we give to each other to say “no” to having a period, to being a boy and having a period, to being agender and having a period, to being a woman and not having a period, and to every possible combination that can happen in a human body. To me, that is what queerness is about. Exploring the edges. Endless multiplicity of horizons and varying forms.
I want to stop shouting at cis-women to try and understand, seeking validation and inclusion into their moon circles or into their practices and healing modalities that are only designed for themselves.
I want to stop shouting at cis-women to try and understand, seeking validation and inclusion into their moon circles or into their practices and healing modalities that are only designed for themselves. Perhaps they will never understand. Some of them will try. Some of them will develop into consistently counted upon accomplices, which is vital. I’m more interested in creating access pathways to health, healing, and spirituality for queer folks by queer folks.
I feel that trans and non-binary folks have much to contribute to the fields of health and healing. We are edge-walkers of imagination, whether we take hormones or not. We imagine ourselves in ways that other people won’t allow themselves to. I once had a cis-person tell me that taking testosterone is ecologically “not safe.” It was a twisting of chemicals inside the body in a way that no human should ever do. I remember feeling upset when this person shared this with me. We take chemicals to alter our bodies and consciousness all of the time, and humans have been participating with and experimenting in alteration for a long time. What makes this any different?
I’m tired of bleeding in secret. I’m tired of feeling disempowered when I bleed because there are no mainstream narratives that affirm my experience. I’m tired of cis-privilege and the way it wreaks havoc, harm, and genocide on trans and enby bodies. I’m ready for something different. I’m ready for something complex, revolutionary, and liberating. I’m ready for queer leadership, representation, and celebration. Because when we decompose the gender binary, everyone benefits. Everyone benefits from a world and a culture that upholds body sovereignty. One that says you get to decide who you are—no one else but you.
About the Author
fēnix grace is a griever, dreamer, and interdisciplinary artist. they are an apprentice to the practices of healing trauma in the body. creating art is a way they give space to the oceans they feel inside.
Follow on IG: @born.of.trees