Period Poverty Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Folks

Period poverty is the lack of or limited access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, handwashing facilities, and/or waste management. These factors make people who menstruate unable to manage their periods safely and with dignity.

Transmasculine and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) people are often left out of the conversation around period poverty due to the misconception that only women menstruate. However, the fact is, not all women menstruate and not all people who menstruate are women. Some women don’t menstruate due to menopause, stress, disease, a hysterectomy, or they could be intersex or transgender. On the other hand, there are people who menstruate who aren’t women and might be trans men, intersex or gender non-conforming.

Below are some ways in which period poverty affects TGNC people:

High Costs of Sanitary Products

Lack of access to sanitary products falls especially hard on TGNC people because they are more likely to live in poverty than cisgender people. This is because of barriers to their economic advancements, such as transphobia and inability to find employment due to a mismatch between their official documents and gender expression.

Lack of Hand Washing Facilities and Waste Management

Since TGNC people are more likely to live in poverty than cisgender people, they are also more likely to live in low income areas where there is little to no access to water and waste management resources. Not being able to use these facilities makes it harder for people who menstruate to manage their periods.

Lack of TGNC-Inclusive Menstrual Hygiene Education

Menstruation has been gendered as a women’s issue, thus TGNC folks are rarely targeted by menstrual hygiene campaigns or included in menstrual hygiene education. Lack of information on good hygiene during menstruation could increase risk of urinary and reproductive tract infections.

Safety Concerns in Gendered Bathrooms

TGNC people face safety concerns when they menstruate in gendered bathrooms. There are often no trash cans inside stalls in men’s restrooms, so there’s nowhere discreet to throw away your period products. If you “pass” for male or appear “too masculine” in a woman’s restroom where it might be logistically easier to manage your bleeding, it might still feel just as unsafe for some people.

The complete eradication of period poverty can only be realized by leaving no one behind. It will mean unlearning many of the things that we have internalized pertaining gender and biological functions, but it is worth it if in the end all people who menstruate can do so safely and with dignity.