Who Menstruates? People Menstruate: Learn Why Gender and Sex Are Not the Same

Not all women get their periods, and not everyone who gets their period is a woman. 

Because of lingering period shame and stigma, sometimes it’s hard for the general public to acknowledge that yes, people really do bleed every month. But it’s not just women who get their periods.

People get their periods—and Kt creates period underwear for everyone who bleeds.


Who can have a period?

A good rule of thumb for periods: Not all women get their periods, and not everyone who gets their period is a woman. Trans, non-binary, genderfluid and nonconforming people can get periods too. If you need a refresher on all these terms, you can mosey on down to the end of this post for a recap. 🌈

If you’re just learning this idea, that’s okay. From a young age, we’re taught that only—and all—women get their periods. Whether we were taught this in sex-ed, through media or even just on packages of tampons, periods are largely considered to be a girl thing—something that signifies womanhood. (So much so that one slang term for periods used across the world for a period is “girl flu.”)

But gender isn’t actually a determining factor when it comes to periods.

Gender and sex are two distinct aspects of our identity. “Biological” sex largely has to do with our sex organs. Let's break it down: if a baby is born with XY chromosomes, they’re assigned male. If they’re born with XX chromosomes, then the assigned sex is female. Sex, like gender, also operates on a spectrum, which you can read more about it here.

If your gender identity doesn’t match the sex you were assigned at birth, you may be transgender or non-binary. For example, if you were born with a vagina but don’t identify with being a woman, you may identify as a man or something else entirely.  You might be non-binary, agender, genderfluid, genderqueer, or something else completely. Since there are many people born with the female sex organs, that means there are many people who menstruate.

The only factor determining whether or not someone gets a period? Having a uterus. And people who identify as male or non-binary can have uteruses! Because why? Let’s say it together: Gender and sex are different things. See, you’re getting it already. 


A quick guide to gender identities

Non-Binary: Some people don’t feel like “boy” or “girl” fits how they feel. Non-binary people may feel like both at once, neither, or something in-between. The truth is, non-binary is a term that those outside of the “man” or “woman” binary may use as an umbrella term for how they are. Non-binary just means the binary definitions of man and woman don’t always apply for them. Respectfully ask what pronouns they prefer, but non-binary pals may use pronouns like they/them or a mix of others!


Transgender: Your trans friends have a different gender identity than what sex they were originally assigned at birth. This means that even though they were born as one sex, your trans pals are people that have a gender that is different than what their birth certificate states.


Cisgender: Cis people are people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. If the doctor assigned you as female and you feel like that’s the right fit, then BAM, you’re cis. 


All of these people (and more) can have their periods! In some cases, such as for those who are taking estrogen hormones, they might not actually bleed, but will still experience similar symptoms leading up to or during their time of the month, such as bloating, cramping, and PMS.



Changing the conversation

We can all be kind of shy about our periods. They can be really hard to talk about. But it’s important to remember that the stigma around menstruation is even greater for trans or non-binary people. It’s important to normalize talking about menstruation, and not just what that experience is like for cis women.

Normalizing menstruation for all makes it so period education, period health, and period products are more accessible and inclusive to all different kinds of people who experience periods. So, you may be asking: how do we normalize periods for everyone? Having conversations is a great way to smash any kind of taboo and demystify any topic—periods included! 


Too Long, Didn’t Read (TL;DR)

  1. Use inclusive and non-gender specific language. For example, avoid using the phrase “feminine hygiene.” Instead, try “period products” or “menstrual hygiene!”
  2. Not all people who menstruate are women
  3. Being a woman does not always mean you menstruate
  4. Every single person, no matter their gender, has a different relationship with their period

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