We all laugh when a sitcom features some daring man braving the pharmacy to pick up tampons for his girlfriend. The man is so completely bashful and embarrassed, ensuring hilarious antics as he tries to nonchalantly check out, but fails miserably. But why is that the situation? Why are men so embarrassed by a normal part of a woman’s life?

Before I transitioned, I was treated just like any other boy. Sure, my hair was long, and I wasn’t really a “manly” boy. Still, I was, as most boys are, completely sheltered from the process of menstruation. I knew vaguely about it from an 8th grade sex ed course, but even then it was only very briefly touched about, and by then, I was already uncomfortable with the topic. It’s not that I thought it was a terrible thing, it just simply was never talked about in my life. I had no sisters; my mother never talked about it; older women felt it was inappropriate to tell a young boy about it; and women my age were all too embarrassed to talk about it. Not to mention, most boys became more and more uncomfortable with the topic as it was made to seem like a big scary unknown thing.

I remember when I was in middle school, there was a girl I liked, whose naI’m not going to mention, but I hope she one day reads this. Since I had a crush on her and I was a young teenager, I thought it would be perfectly appropriate to snatch her purse and look at whats inside of it. I grabbed her purse and ran down the hall, she chased after me, but I opened the purse first. And there, on top of the mess in her bag, was a pad. I turned bright red, she grabbed the purse without a word, and we never discussed the incident again. It was almost a decade before I ever laid eyes on a pad or tampon again. That was also the last time I went digging in a girl’s purse without their permission too. I was taught, by experiences like this, that menstruation was something to be embarrassed about, that shouldn’t be talked about, and was extremely private. I, as a boy, was never to talk or ask about the issue, despite the fact I couldn’t comprehend why someone would bleed once a month unless they were hurt.

After I transitioned, all the secrecy and shame vanished in an instant. Women, when in the company of other women, are usually totally comfortable talking about their periods. It’s not something taboo; its just a part of the experience of being a woman. Sure, there are times it is inappropriate to discuss, but chit chatting around the office, after class, when going shopping is totally normal. While I am mostly out, it’s not always appropriate to out myself in every conversation, so I often find myself in conversations where other women assume I get my period as well, so I am welcomed into the conversation. A year ago, I was still bashful about the topic, but as it became more and more discussed, more and more normal, I found there really wasn’t a reason to be uncomfortable.

Periods, by in large, are not fun. They usually involve cramping, pain, bloating, having to change tampons or pads frequently, hormone changes, and dozens of other potential symptoms. Most women who know that I am transgender always tell me “Ashe, you’re so lucky you’ll never have to go through menstruation!” While I understand why being able to be a woman and totally skip out on the whole period thing seems very ‘lucky,’ but a period isn’t just a pain. It is a sign that a girl is becoming a woman; it means fertility, the ability to have children. While I’m sure being able to skip the monthly bleeding sounds appealing, I want to remind the cisgender women reading this that it also means not being able to get pregnant, to be a mother by blood. It’s one of the only parts of being a woman that cannot be replicated via hormones, surgery, time, patience, diligence, or anything. It’s an absolute barrier a trans woman can never pass. It’s convenient, but it isn’t lucky.


Ashley In The News

In the past month, I’ve been surprised to find my name printed in the local papers not once, but two times, for two very, very different reasons. None the less, I thought it was pretty exciting and I wanted to share these with anyone reading 🙂
On June 5th, I will be part of a panel at the showing of a film called “Gun Hill Road.” The film is about a young latino(a?) transgender girl whose father just recently came home from prison. If you’re in the Lehigh Valley, you should definitely attend; Tickets are $7.50 for general admission and $5 for students and Arts Quest members
Yesterday, despite still trying to get over a very nasty cold, I went with several of my coworkers and spoke infront of city council regarding a commuter tax that is being proposed in the city of Easton. I was surprised (and very happy) when I found out this morning they used my words in the article.

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