top of page

Natural Menstruation V.S. Hormone Fluctuation & The Gate to Womanhood: A TikTok Debate

Updated: Nov 1, 2023

TikTok is a platform that continues infiltrating its presence as a dominating force to influence and form connections across diverse fields. In promoting a large or small business, the app is a wonderful tool for content promotion due to its ability to target proper audiences towards a product or ideal. Some content creators can express and connect with others and profit from promoting and advertising a company. However, with the platform's great strengths, some weaknesses or issues cause it to be another tool corrupted by negative social constructs. But that is the downside to social media; with its great lengths for social connection, there is a guarantee for us to view opinions that cause conflict. Therefore, an issue vastly circling TikTok is the view of womanhood in the aspect of biological and trans women, more specifically, the idea of reproductive qualities of natural women being an important aspect of female identity.

The popular argument at the forefront of this issue is that biological women experiencing menstrual cycles do not "validate" their womanhood. Furthermore, symptoms of a monthly cycle, such as cramps, bloating, or mood swings, share no validation either, as some trans women argue that they, too, experience these issues. However, the reasoning behind transwomen experiencing similar symptoms is because of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), a medication with the original purpose of easing menopausal conditions. The remedy is currently popularly used by trans people to assist their transitional period. However, it has many side effects, such as breast tenderness, headaches, fatigue, bloating, nausea, hot flashes, anxiety, depression, and more. These are similar effects that biological women experience through their menstruation cycle, but the difference is that it is a natural fluctuation of hormones without medical induction.

In the Medical News Today article, "Can Transgender Women Have a Period," by Dr. Emelia Arquilla, she presents the difference between a biological woman's menstruation and a trans woman's hormonal fluctuation by offering The United Kingdom's National Health Services view stating, "a period is the part of the menstrual cycle in which blood, comprising uterine lining, leaves the body. People who do not have ovaries and a uterus do not experience periods. However, PMS and PMDD are terms that refer to the physical and emotional symptoms that people may experience before their period begins. These conditions occur due to fluctuations in hormones." In short, trans women do not experience a period, but hormone fluctuations having similar symptoms of PMS. The misconception of these two instances continues to cause conflict on the TikTok platform as biological women argue their menstruation as being part of the transition from girl into womanhood and defending their right of offense to some trans women devaluing the drastic experiences of a period to make themselves seem superior. On the other hand, from the perspective of trans women, biological women are "gatekeeping" periods to devalue their right to womanhood and gender affirmation.

However, being a biological woman, I cannot help to express that menstruation holds significant importance in my transition into womanhood. Trans women have a right to their identity and should fight to describe their experiences for social awareness. The issue is not affirming one's existence over the other; it is the lack and misconception in communication causing consistent argumentation, making it impossible for one group to see the points of the other. Meanwhile, each group is stirring away from the overall goal, which is the equality and respect all women desire. Although there is no way for biological and trans women to understand each other's condition fully, they can agree that their experiences differ, with menstruation and reproduction being important.

Another issue biological women have with some trans women arguing that experiencing a period is not essential to womanhood is that it devalues its responsibility for gender social outlooks in creating and continuing patriarchal views. Biological women are consistently seen as the inferior sex due to their higher fluctuation of hormones making them more emotionally inclined than males. Furthermore, once a young girl experiences her cycle in many cultures, she becomes a full-fledged woman because she can now carry children. However, girls can experience their first cycle as young as seven or eight. Imagine this same seven- or eight-year-old having to begin preparations for marriage immediately or by the time she turns sixteen while her husband is way past her senior. Unfortunately, child marriage is a reality, and for a young girl, her menstrual cycle becomes her commodity value in providing any use to a husband and financial stability for her family. Although in the United States, the youngest age for legal marriage is sixteen with parental consent, most are consensual, with reproductive ability being little or no factor. Historically, a woman's ability to provide children was essential to the continuance of a man's lineage. Furthermore, women could provide the care and upbringing of that child, making them a vital asset. Therefore, menstruation and reproductive aspects of biological women and girls can drastically change their lives for societal purposes.

In current years, with women's sexual and reproductive health access restrictions plaguing the United States, the menstruation of biological women continues to put them at risk depending on the laws of their state regarding birth control, contraceptives, and abortion. When the Supreme Court ruled overturning Roe vs. Wade in 2022, TikTok was a significant platform allowing creators to document day-to-day information on the issue and granting knowledge on state-by-state views. More importantly, in this digital dependable age, many biological use menstruation tracking apps to assist them with keeping up-to-date information for birth control regimens, fertility days, or underlining reproductive health issues. However, many apps and websites can share data, and many biological women fear facing criminal trials depending on state laws to see if they had a miscarriage or terminated a pregnancy.

Unfortunately, many believe that biological women need to hold more responsibility for their sexual lifestyle to avoid the need for abortion. However, women always take on more responsibility because they need to get on birth control, need to make sure there are enough contraceptives on themselves and their partner, need to take a day after medication when something happens, and in the chance they do conceive they have the bulk of the responsibility of bringing that life into the world, while her partner may or may not care to assist.

In short, a biological woman's menstrual cycle greatly affects her role in society and womanhood. It is more than hormones' physical and mental fluctuation; it is an often-silent pain and fear that society continues to use against us. Transwomen have entirely different experiences. There is no doubt about that. However, biological women deserve respect and the same right to their experiences. Unfortunately, TikTok, a platform that prides itself on unity, acceptance, and protection of all users, fails to address when users degrade the voices of biological women to uplift themselves and their community. It is disheartening because the app has much potential to bring groups together and bring awareness to educate users on vast subjects. When the app allows users to share harmful and false information, such as biological women "gatekeeping" periods or womanhood, it's a slap in the face to users that invest so much in the platform's success, which is currently "60% female worldwide" according to SearchLogistics.

Although TikTok cannot have a large portion of the blame, when it comes to the issue of the biological women menstruation and the trans women hormone fluctuation "debate," it is responsible for allowing users to harass others, sharing false or harmful information, and contradicting its founding purpose. Moreover, every woman's view of womanhood may differ based on their perception and experience. However, for biological women, menstruation and reproduction means much for their right to womanhood, as they did for centuries. Trans women have the right to share their view of womanhood. Still, degrading other women, specifically biological women, makes them no different than those who exclude their existence in society. As a biological woman, I will never truly understand the experience of a trans woman, but I do understand the need for all to have a voice. So, I implore that instead of both sides creating more argumentation by inducting defensive tactics, try to see things from each other's perspective. (c)--2023 J. Ethienne

37 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page