When You Have Your Period, But You're Not A Woman: Menstruating beyond the binary

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

By Jessica Milne, MPH


Growing up, I was very concerned about periods because I didn’t start menstruating until I was 15. In the years leading up to menarche, I experienced a lot of anxiety about when it would start, why it was taking so long, and what was wrong with me for being such a late bloomer?


Eventually, it came, and in late 2018, I came out as non-binary and began using they/them pronouns. At this point, I had already been menstruating for about 7 years. Still, menstruation is widely considered as an indicator of womanhood, resulting in some complicated feelings about menstruation and my gender identity. I felt bothered by my period for the first time, like it was a reminder of my assigned sex. This required some self-affirmation to work through. A career in sexual & LGBTQ health research has eased these complexities somewhat, as well as being surrounded by (and building) an affirming community.


I felt bothered by my period for the first time, like it was a reminder of my assigned sex.

People's problems with periods

Menstrual stigma has real health implications — physical and mental — for people who menstruate all around the world. From a