real life

"Periods are not just for women."

A transgender artist has delivered a powerful message about who is affected by periods after posting a photo of themselves menstruating.

“I’m not tryna bring up something shallow, periods are honestly pretty traumatic for me,” Cass Clemmer writes in a poem posted to Instagram earlier this month.

“See my life is very clearly marked, Like a red border cut up a nation, A time before and a time beyond, The mark of my first menstruation.”

In the post, Cass, who prefers “they” pronouns, describes the day they got their first period as “the day that I lost it all.”

“I was 15 and still happy,
Running around, all chest bared and buck,
Climbing trees, digging holes,
And no one gave a single f*ck.
I mean I think my ma was worried,
So I went and grew out my locks,
A sign I was normal, still a girl,
A painted neon sign for my gender box.”

Like many teenagers, entering puberty marked a change of direction and a change of tone from those closest in their life. But as someone who did not belong in a woman’s body, it was a truly confronting time. Combined with the relief shown by Cass’s mother when their period finally arrived, the situation left them feeling confused and crying.

“Just thanking god I was normal, While mourning the freedom that had died,” they wrote, saying the celebration from their family felt like “they kept celebrating a child dying.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The arrival of their period marked “a gender identity that wasn’t real,” Cass writes, explaining they felt “betrayed” by their body.

“Every time I get my cycle,
Is another day I shed my gender…
… The five days it flows,
I try to breathe, I dissociate,
While my body rips outs parts of me,
Leaving nothing but a shell of hate.”

Alongside the poem is a photo of Cass with a blood-stained crotch holding a sign that reads “Periods are not just for women. #bleedingwhiletrans.”

A post shared by Cass Clemmer (@cassclemmer) on

Unfortunately, Cass says they have received hateful and transphobic comments online since opening the discussion.

But despite that, Cass says they don’t regret posting their story.

“Trans youth have a higher than average rate of suicide, and if me being able to share my story helps just one person remember that they are not alone and they are loved — that alone is worth all the transphobia and death threats in the world,” Cass told Popsugar.

If you’re suffering or need someone to talk to, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636.