Campaign Featuring Transgender Men Draws Ire Toward Trans Women

Photo: Sam Wordley / Shutterstock
Campaign Featuring Transgender Men Draws Ire Toward Trans Women

“Why do all these men so desperately want to be women?” A Facebook user asked.

The campaign launched by Luteal, a company selling products to promote menstrual health and symptom relief, appeared last month and has since gone viral. In an image released on the official website prefacing Luteal’s mission to promote education and inclusivity when approaching the topic of periods, ten transgender men and gender non-binary people stand in their white underwear marked with a red blood stain. The caption reads “People Have Periods.”

Since the image from the powerful Bleeding Beyond The Binary campaign appeared, conservatives and religious zealots alike have re-posted the image and proceeded to ridicule the subjects. Many of those who have taken to social media to lampoon the photo have, awkwardly, presumed that the subjects photographed are transgender women… or “biological men cosplaying as women!”

A post on Facebook from Sheologians, with over 31,000 followers, lamented that “women are being erased;” a common, baseless argument often leveraged by gender critics to attack the identity of transgender women they accuse of co-opting womanhood. The page goes on to default, once again, to yet another all-to-familiar tactic to incite fear: that of transgender women using public bathrooms.

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Falsely believing the photo is representing transgender women who are “pretending” to have periods, many launched public attacks on transgender women, often citing the absence of fathers or strong male figures that allowed their sons to be feminized. Another said, “Show me one man who could have a period and survive 2 minutes without crying for his mama. THEN let’s see if they still think “people” have periods.”

The founder of Luteal, Alexa Perry, a queer, non-binary person themself, made it clear in their statement that the focus of the effort is to resist minimizing and normalizing the pain presented by those who experience menstruation and instead listening with compassion, understanding and awareness. It reads;

“It is for this reason that I feel a deep obligation to honouring the gift of this knowledge by including queer and trans people in everything we do. Our People Have Periods campaign is our way of capturing and sharing these gifts with the world. Each and everyone of the people in this campaign have forged their own reality. They dared to imagine a world full of love and celebration. So we join them today in celebrating all of the possibility for change in a world that so desperately needs it. We celebrate this by showing up. With minds and hearts wide open.” — Alexa Perry, Luteal.com founder

Luteal's campaign is deeply necessary to educate and inform our society which is clearly parched by ignorance and riddled by misinformation. The callous and insensitive response only punctuates how important the message is, but also illustrates how transgender women bare the burden a disproportionate amount of public shaming and abuse via social media. While transgender men and non-binary people certainly receive abuse, it is the caricature used to represent transgender women that is painted by bigots more broadly to create a persistent, shock-inducing reaction from the public.

The proverbial bogeyman that has been manifested in all of its outlandish imagery via a narrative intended to alienate and ostracize all transgender people from public life is one of,“a man in a dress.” It does, after all, conjure images the media has spoon fed audiences for decades, such a Buffalo Bill from the film Silence of The Lambs, or the John Lithgow as the schizophenic, cross-dressing murderer in Raising Cain, or Norman Bates donning women’s clothing to kill Janet Leigh in Psycho.

The idea of a man pretending to be a woman, and subsequently preying upon women has been used as a tactic in Hollywood to derive horror from filmgoers for decades. This concept is, today, used by the misinformed to represent to others what a transgender woman is and the intentions she inevitably has — specifically to harm others. Although transgender men have been portrayed less frequently in media, they has not been distorted and used to provoke the same sensationalized reaction from viewers as transgender women have, historically.

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Echoes of this grotesque misrepresentation of transgender women are prominently demonstrated is the reaction to the People Have Periods campaign, with so many of those exposed to the photo defaulting to the belief that they are looking at men pretending to bleed or trans women victimizing cisgender women by “erasing them” or their biology-based experiences.

“Young women should just love Jesus, marry a manly MAN who loves Jesus, then start having babies, lots of babies and teach them about Loving Jesus… guys who call them selves girls to …*for whatever reason, I dont get it - CANT have Babies! So, we /WOMEN - will ALWAYS win at having babies!!!” Said one comment.

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“Sodomy - this is why the Scripture calls it ‘abusers of themselves with mankind,’” wrote another confused user, with a response below stating, “These are women.”

“Um… women bleed. People with a vagina bleed. Lord needs to set the world on fire already,” read another reply.

Meanwhile, Redditors engaged in a long thread arguing that, “only women have periods, not transgender women!”

However, the few that were able to comprehend that the subjects of the photo were transgender men and non-binary folks were no less cruel, often posting bible quotes and claiming that their identity is the result of radical feminism turning them into men.

The campaign has amplified the fact we must expand school curriculums to include transgender and non-binary identities as a normal aspect of the gender spectrum and representative of the diverse human condition we are all subject to.

We must integrate the true expanse of gender potential, not influenced solely by religion or archaic societal rules, so that trans and non-binary people can finally be seen as whole and completely natural in their skin rather than a perverse aberration predisposed to nefarious intent to victimize the innocent.

RELATED: I'm Trans And The LGB Community Is Turning Its Back On Me

Phaylen Fairchild is an Actor, Filmmaker, LGBTQ+ & Women’s Rights Activist.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.