JK Rowling has been a universally loved and adored author but she might have upset quite a lot of her fans after posting a rather insensitive and disappointing tweet that not just came across as transphobic but also as uninformed.
Through this tweet, JK Rowling shared an opinion article titled ‘Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate’ that talks about gender inequalities, gender violence and most importantly the need and importance of having quality “menstrual material, safe access to toilets, soap, water, and private spaces in the face of lockdown living conditions.”
Along with sharing the link of this article, she expressed her dislike towards the way the headline of the article was framed, and so she also tweeted, “ “People who menstruate.” I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
This took the internet by a storm as JK Rowling hurt the feelings of the transgender (people who identify themselves opposite to the sex assigned to them during birth) and non-binary (identities that are outside the man-woman gender binary) persons as well as women. The reason behind this is that periods don’t define any gender and they definitely should not be the identity of women. There are many women who do not menstruate due to multifarious reasons. Besides, its not only women who menstruate.
A tweet of this kind coming from an author of such high stature is disappointing because it clearly revealed to us all how Rowling conveniently chose to belittle and not acknowledge the fact that trans and non-binary people menstruate too. Moreover, her tweet also points out to the fact that though the world is trying to bring in necessary changes, supporting the rights of the LGBTQI community, attempting to bring about changes in language when referring to persons of the community, it yet is unaware of the most basic and equally important aspects of the lives of trans and non-binary people.
We Need To Rethink and Know Some Important Facts
During the biology class in our school, when our teacher taught us about the male and female reproductive system, we weren’t told that non-binary people exist too. We have found out about the trans and non-binary people all by ourselves. Though we know about the lives of the LGBTQI, we don’t know enough. There is no doubt that the tweet uploaded by JK Rowling hurt sentiments of many, but the entire issue surprised a whole lot of other people who didn’t know that people apart from women menstruate too.
If you have always associated periods with women, let me tell you that not all women get periods and this does not make them any less of a woman. Similarly, trans men who menstruate are men. There are a number of reasons why some women don’t bleed every month. They include Amenorrhea, PCOS, hormonal imbalance, poor mental health, nutritional deficiency, low hemoglobin level, etc.
People other than women who menstruate include trans men, intersex and non-binary folks. However, menstruation revolving around anyone else, other than women, is not acknowledged as much as it should be. To make menstruation a more inclusive topic for all, we must bring about a change in the language. Just like we have shifted from using the term ‘fireman’ to ‘firefighter’, we must also start using words like ‘people who menstruate’ rather than associating periods only with women.
Since menstruation is etched in our minds to be a woman’s ‘thing’, it causes dysphoria among those who identify themselves as men. Besides, the added painful cramps and bloating that comes along with the cycle, makes dealing with menstruation even more difficult.
Those who identify themselves as women but don’t menstruate (and want to) and those who identify themselves as men who menstruate (but don’t want to) undergo dysphoria, identity crisis, depression, and so much more. This is because your body refuses to function the way you want it to. It’s because of this that menstruation should not be associated with any gender but should be identified simply as a bodily function.
Gender is merely a social construct built by the people of the human society years back. It has only identified and accepted the man and woman binary. This needs to be changed and it sure is, but it needs to be normalized as well. The process of normalizing the existence of all kinds of genders is important and it must start now.