The tweets in the trending hashtag #IfMenHadPeriods are really funny. The tweets offer relevant and witty satire on toxic masculinity and the shame that men and other women inflict on women for menstruating. Half of the world's population have periods at some time or another. Yet, we find ourselves unable to talk about it even happening.
Even notorious loudmouth Donald Trump couldn't speak directly about menstruation. While going after female moderator Megyn Kelly at the first Republican presidential debate, he said, "You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever."
Yes, we find it hard to say the words — even when hurling menstruation-based insults.
If you were a man who had periods, you would feel a deep sense of shame and pain every time you look down at the blood stain in your boxers. Every month, this would happen to you. Every month, you'd contemplate suicide.
You'd be unable to change your "feminine napkins" in public. You would hope your pad would hold up until you got home, since men's bathrooms have no stall receptacles for them. You would change it out in a deserted restroom, slip it in the garbage can under the paper towels, and hope no one would ever see it.
If you got caught, you might have to deal with being publicly removed from the bathroom where you feel comfortable because transphobic laws have made such horrific actions legal.
You would know that no one takes you seriously when you can't get out of bed because your ovaries hurt too much. Your doctor will tell you to "just use a heating pad." You'd stop talking about it, and excuse your absences from work in other ways. After all, if they can't take your cramps seriously, they might not take you seriously as a man.
You'd bloat and expand and notice you've inflated in exactly the places you try the hardest to hide. Your binder, the stiff fabric pasted onto you from your neck to your hips, is always uncomfortable. It aches this time of the month.
Your face would turn blood-red when you went to the drug store for tampons. You'd feel awkward, like any man buying tampons. But it's a different kind of awkward — rather than worrying about getting the right kind for your girlfriend, you're worried that you're outing yourself.
You'd scan the shelves (looking for regular absorbency, maybe ones that aren't pink) and picture yourself bloodied, this time at the nose, face-down in the parking lot when that man in the vitamin aisle realizes what you are.
You'd have to deal with the cost of menstrual products — and binders, packers, hormones, and surgery. Assuming that those things are even available to you.
Of course, we must consider transgender women as well. Just as the hashtag erases transgender men and some non-binary people, the larger culture forgets that there are some women who don't menstruate, whether they're trans or not.
Some trans women are glad they'll never have to deal with the inconvenience of periods, but I also know others who deeply mourn the facets of cisgender womanhood they will never get to experience.
As Australian writer and poet Allison Gallagher succinctly summed up on Twitter, "Lots of men have periods. Lots of women do not have periods. [Your] feminism means nothing if it erases trans people."
Toxic masculinity — and the patriarchy it supports — deserves to be shot down as it is in #IfMenHadPeriods, but let's not hit transgender people in the crossfire.