Poet explains important reason why trans men need to be ‘part of the chat’ about periods
Poet and musician Freddie Lewis has shared his experience of having periods as a man in the hope of allowing trans men to be “part of that chat too”.
In a conversation with the BBC, Lewis, a 22-year-old pop musician and poet from Bristol, spoke about the experience of having periods and how he uses his art to “show the world my joy in being trans”.
He said that while he doesn’t often have periods, he can “have the odd one when my testosterone levels dip if they’re changing my injection cycle”.
He added: “It is stressful being in a men’s toilet cubicle and trying to quietly unwrap a pad, which seems to be the loudest thing in the world in that situation.”
After coming out as trans in 2018, Lewis said he felt that he began to “performatively hate my body”, before getting to a point where he supported himself through his transition.
He said: “My gut reaction was to almost performatively hate my body, which is very sad. But I assumed that was kind of a prerequisite for being trans.
“As I learned more about myself and examined where that came from I realised it was something I did almost to fulfil what I thought cis people thought trans people were; that we think we are wrong, our bodies are wrong, that transition is something to get away from ourselves rather than to move towards ourselves.
“I’ve got to this point now that whatever happens with my body, I will be like, ‘We’ll get through this, it’ll be fine,’ rather than this excruciating resentment for what’s happening.”
He explained that periods can be “painful” and “stressful” due to a lack of access in men’s spaces.
“The experience of using a men’s toilet and having a period is often one where you have to be a planner. I used to have little sandwich bags for waste disposal on my person because there were no sanitary bins,” he said.
“A few places are starting to add them, especially in mixed-gender toilets.”
In the interview, Lewis highlighted the need for trans people to be “part of the chat” when it comes to making periods inclusive and affordable for everyone.
“Cis people tend to forget when they’re talking about periods that there are actually a lot of trans men, non-binary and trans-masculine people who also bleed,” he said.
“We’re not trying to take anything away from their experience by wanting to be part of that chat too.”
Lewis said he hopes by opening up that he will encourage more trans people to “be proud of everything your body does”.
He said: “I would also love to see trans people being more proud and not resenting their own bodies.
“You can just love yourself and if others don’t understand they’re allowed to be wrong about you and your body.
“I wish I could go back and tell that to 16-year-old Freddie. You don’t have to pander to that, you can be proud of everything your body does
“I use my music and poetry to shed light on my trans experience, and most importantly to show the world my joy in being trans.
“Of course there will always be hurdles to overcome and bad days, as with anyone, but I’m myself because of, and not despite of, my body and indeed my trans-ness.”
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