While other women are fair game for it

Samantha Rea says there was the Twitter lark about #IfMenHadPeriods and then there was the inevitable ridiculous reaction to same.

It was a bit of fun, but not everyone thought so. One Twitter user wrote, “While this highly cisnormative hashtag is trending, I want to remind everyone that trans men do exist + some have periods.” Another complained, “Men do have periods. Not every man is cis and it’s disgusting for people to still be assuming that they are.” There were numerous other tweets along these lines.

I’m sorry, Social Justice Warriors, but here’s the science bit: Men don’t have periods – women do. That’s biology. It doesn’t matter how we identify, what we wear, who we sleep with, or which pronouns we prefer – our reproductive organs simply don’t care.

Some people have decided that’s not how we define “women” and “men” any more. They’ve decided it no longer is to do with reproductive organs, it’s to do with declaration. Period. If you say you’re a man you’re a man, therefore menstruation isn’t something only women do any more. It used to was, but now we know so much better. How? People on Twitter telling us so.

You cannot choose your sex, and neither can you change it. Gender is a set of stereotypes associated with each sex. They’re society’s ideas about how men and women should behave, and how they should appear. A woman may prefer the stereotypes associated with being male, but identifying as a man won’t stop her getting pregnant, and nor will it necessarily stop men from treating her as a woman, in the very ways she wishes they wouldn’t.

In Canada, also in May this year, a woman who identifies as a transgender man was sexually assaulted by a taxi driver. The victim of the assault has been quoted as saying: “I think he just didn’t care that I was a trans man… he still continued to call me a woman even though I had explicitly told him I was a male and I had been transitioning for a while.” It’s almost as if the victim thinks that identifying as male gives her an opt-out from sexual assault, while other women are fair game for it. But it didn’t matter how she identified, the taxi driver still recognised her as a woman, and he still sexually assaulted her.

And the issue there isn’t that he didn’t care that the victim was a trans man – it’s that he didn’t care that the victim didn’t want to be raped.

Instead of trying to “opt out” of being a woman, in order to avoid the worst bits, how about working towards a safer and more equal society for everyone – regardless of how they identify. Nobody can actually change sex, but what we can do is challenge the gender stereotypes, and break down the cultural constructions that leave women lying in the wet patch.

And that leave men thinking they’re entitled to rape women.

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