Menstruating While Masc: Top Things to Know about Periods from a Trans Activist

We sat down with Trans activist, doula, and community health leader Max Mowitz to talk about the unique menstrual health challenges Trans people face, how to cope, and how non-Trans people can help.

Tell us a little bit about your work as a Trans activist, certified Community Health Worker and transition doula. How does your work interact with menstruation?

MM: So much of my work focuses on reframing the way we think about reproductive justice and health, and menstruation is a huge part of that. I am always looking for ways to think about menstruation as an intersectional issue impacting Trans people, and disproportionately Trans folks of color, houseless Trans people, and disabled Trans people. My goal in my role as a doula and activist is to create a space where Trans folks can share their experience with menstruation in a way that is shame and stigma free and is body neutral.

De Lune is a menstrual health brand and, more specifically, we're dedicated to ending menstrual suffering and lifting the period burden. How do Trans people experience the period burden?

MM: Trans people experience period burden in many ways. In addition to menstruation being stigmatized and expensive for menstruators, many Trans people also experience dysphoria (the distressed state arising from a conflict between a person's gender identity and their sex characteristics) as a result of having a period. We rarely discuss the immense emotional toll that having a period can have on Trans menstruators, on top of the many institutional burdens presented by menstruation.

We know that it can be extremely difficult to find gender-affirming menstrual care and education. What advice do you have for Trans menstruators who might be struggling with their period or have questions about it?

MM: Our community is deeply powerful and caring. I would recommend finding other Trans people, in-person or online, that share some identities with you and ask them if they can share space with you about the ways that menstruation can be challenging, joyful, complex, etc. We take care of us.

What is a misconception about Trans menstruation, and more broadly Trans healthcare, that you wish people understood better?

MM: I wish more people realized and acknowledged that there are as many ways to transition/be Trans as there are Trans people. No two Trans folks will transition the exact same way, with the same goals and experience. Though people feel overwhelmed by this idea, I would reframe it as an asset to the Trans community- we are beautiful in the ways that we are individual, and the complexity of our identities and transitions is rich and vast.

Here at De Lune, we're setting a new standard for happy, healthy periods. What changes would you like to see in menstrual spaces to help create a happier, healthier experience for Trans menstruators?

MM: Of course, moving away from women-centered language is so vital for creating an equitable space for Trans menstruators. People of all genders menstruate. Additionally, continuing to acknowledge and bridge the gaps in gender-affirming menstrual/reproductive health care is a large-scale example of change. And remembering not to simply tack on Trans people in your conversations around menstruation, but integrating us into conversations from the beginning is a big part of creating a better experience for Trans menstruators.


Any last words of wisdom to share with the menstrual community?

To my fellow Trans folks: You are beautiful and valid as you are. Lean on your Trans siblings for support and share your story. We take care of us.

About Max

Max Mowitz is Program Director at One Iowa, Iowa’s statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, overseeing organizational programming, direct service, and community education via LGBTQ training. Max has been active in LGBTQ advocacy work since coming out in high school, focusing on comprehensive LGBTQ education to the broader community as a component of queer liberation. Max specializes in topics related to the trans and nonbinary community, LGBTQ birth work, LGBTQ-inclusive healthcare, and mental healthcare and is a certified Community Health Worker. Max previously served as the Volunteer and Office Coordinator at the Young Women’s Resource Center after earning their undergraduate degree in Ethnomusicology and African American Studies.

Max is part of the Planned Parenthood Speakers Bureau and serves as a board member for the Iowa Abortion Access Fund, Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund, and Planned Parenthood. Max is pursuing their birth and postpartum doula certification and is practicing as a gender-affirming doula, serving Trans and Nonbinary individuals in their gender-affirming experiences as a support system as they navigate healthcare systems, social gender-affirmation, and mental health. Max is passionate about justice and the liberation of all marginalized peoples. Max is a harpist, guitarist, powerlifter, drag enthusiast, abolitionist, and a spouse to Austin and partner to June.

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