Over the Labor Day weekend, the hashtag #IfMenHadPeriods began trending on Twitter, emerging as an attempt to call out institutional sexism around periods. Which, of course, sounds like a good thing in and of itself. But here's the problem: Some men do have periods. Within hours, the hashtag was going viral, though probably not for the reasons its instigators intended. Many users were rightfully quick to call out the hashtag for being gender-normative and for excluding the experiences of transgender people.
After all, women aren't the only ones who get periods; transgender men and non-binary people who haven't had hormone replacement therapy to alleviate menstrual symptoms can, too. In fact, earlier this year, Thinx, a company that manufactures period panties, featured a trans man in its ads to draw attention to the fact that, yes, some men get periods. "I didn't start hormones until I was 28," Sawyer DeVuyst, the Thinx model, explained in the ad. "That leaves me with five-ish years of identifying as a man but also getting my period. I would wear multiple pairs of underwear with a pair of boxers on top of that just to make sure that I didn't leak anywhere, or that no one knew that I had my period." #IfMenHadPeriods seemingly began with the intention to draw attention to sexism — and again, that isn't a bad thing. "If men had periods, pads would be free," one user tweeted. "If men had periods pads would be home delivered free with ice cream & sympathy on their 7 paid days off/month," wrote another. However, the hashtag ultimately doesn't recognize that trans men are men — even without hormone replacement therapy. When feminism fails to be intersectional — and fails to be inclusive of marginalized groups like the trans community — it can become tone-deaf, excluding, and even transphobic. Surely there's another way to call out menstruphobia without exercising cis privilege or alienating anyone.