I’m In On The In-Joke
Sometimes, women would make comments to male-bodied folks assumed not to menstruate to the effect of, “YOU’RE SO LUCKY YOU DON’T GET YOUR PERIODS – LADIES, AMIRITE?” I mean, I guessed they might be, because the entirety of my knowledge revolved around a kaleidoscope of different pains and aches you could have. I always felt a little shame-faced when, after saying this, the women around me would all look at each other — me included — with a look of we-know-what’s-up solidarity. A solidarity that I actually couldn’t share in.
While the women around me smiled and bonded, I wondered if I was showing too many teeth and being totally obvious I was a period impostor. Eventually, I realized that if other people read me as biologically female, that doesn’t mean that I ‘m somehow being deceptive just being who I am. It ‘s THEIR problem for making assumptions, not MY problem I exist the way that I do.
Pop quiz results: Did I even care anymore? I just wanted to be me. Fuck this class.
Menstruating is one of my favorite things to talk about, ever. I’m fascinated by the intersections of people-assume-my-body-does-this and I-don’t-know-what-this-is-like, the complexity surrounding menstruation as a biological process, and the range of experiences and practices regarding menstruation.
I don’t hide the fact that I don’t menstruate as often anymore. I sometimes tell people straight-up, oh, I don’t get my period, whatever. I draw in arrows on medical forms that ask me when I had my last period and scrawl, “I don’t get my period” and anticipate the inevitable questions later. I ask lots of questions to my sister, close friends, and my (poor, POOR) girlfriend. I’m also working on not acting like a doofy sitcom bro when those around me are feeling yucky ’cause of their periods, since I’m not always sure how to best be supportive.
Things are getting okay-er.
That being said, I’d like to live in a world someday where people don’t automatically assume my body looks and functions a certain way, and make room for people like me and my experiences. That young intersex girls won’t have to walk around feeling confused and awkward as fuck like I did, and have to get all creative to fit in with their peers. Because ultimately, this isn’t an essay about the hilarity of a non-menstruating intersex person trying to navigate the menstruating world — it’s an essay about not making assumptions that someone’s body does or doesn’t do shit, just because it looks like they “should.”
There is no should. There is only what actually is.
And what actually is, for me? I don’t menstruate.
If you were to look at me now, what would you see? Your brain might automatically stamp me FEMALE, might not consider I ‘m anything other than a typical lady. But I hope that, somewhere in the back of your mind, you might say, “Yeah, but not necessarily — I don’t know how that person identifies.” I hope that other people, other brains will add to a collective acceptance that there’s more than two kinds of people out there in terms of biological sex. Because that sliver of, “Maybe not,” is really the start of a revolution that makes room in our world views — and ultimately, room in the world — for people like me.
What you see is something closer to who I actually am. I’m Claudia. I’m intersex. I’m here, I exist. It’s nice to finally be seen.