Bathrooms and “The Plague”

As most people here know, I’m about 90-99% stealth.  That is, there are only a handful of people in my metro area who both know who I am offline and that I’m trans.  About half are people I’ve slept with, maybe a third are doctors or other medical personnel, and the rest are friends or random people who needed to know (for instance, the financial aid counselor at my university).  Obviously this means I use only the men’s restrooms, locker rooms, etc.

There are just a couple of problems.  First off, I come from a family where even the non-trans men get called “ma’am” until about 30.  When I started T I figured I’d have to wait until at least 40 to pass easily and I’m fine with that, one of the advantages to coming from a gender-ambiguous family is that I know just how common feminine looking guys are.  The bigger issue is that the, uh, monthly horror didn’t stop until about a month ago (and I’m still not 100% sure).  So what do you do when you want/need to use the men’s room, but have to deal with female cycles?

  1. Tampons are your friend.  I had intense dysphoria until the T started kicking in so I couldn’t use them until a year or so ago, but if you can stomach the idea I highly suggest it.  They’re easier to get rid of than most alternatives.
  2. Also useful, but something I could never in a million years use: divacups/other reusable tampon-like things.  They freak me the fuck out (I’m afraid of it getting stuck, sue me), but I know guys who swear by them.  If you’re comfortable, go for it.  I would’ve if I ever worked up the balls.
  3. See if you can find a single stall.  I know, basic Trans 101, but I tend to forget things like this when I’m nervous so I thought I’d remind everyone.
  4. Don’t panic.  For god’s sake, don’t creep into the bathroom like you’re trying to take naughty pictures or something.  Nothing makes a person stand out more than trying not to stand out.  Unless you’re in a gay setting, the guys aren’t looking at you.  It’s a thing, no one wants to be the one caught checking out another dude.  Just pretend it’s the ladies’ room and walk in as if you’ve been doing it your entire life.  Worst that happens is some guy tries to be nice and point you in the direction of the “right” bathroom (at which point I suggest acting really offended or embarrassed — embarrassed tends to work better if you often get called “son” and want to go for the pretty-boy-adolescent thing).
  5. The vast majority of guys will never notice the sound of you unwrapping whatever protective measures you decide to use.  However, if you’re concerned (I still am sometimes) you can learn to unwrap things in your pocket with a bit of practice.  Backings get a bit of pocket lint on them, but they stay well enough.
  6. If you have to toss something in the trash, carry a bag with you.  Wrap item in toilet paper, put in bag, and dump on the way out.
  7. Packers can be placed in front of maxi-pads if you’re so inclined.  The sticky backing actually really helps them stay in place.
  8. Yes, pads do work with most men’s underwear.  I’ve heard boxers are a problem and I can guess why, but I don’t wear them so I’ve never tested it out.
  9. Find a coping mechanism.  For me that week was always the most dysphoric time.  Until recently I was barely functional, it was that bad.  If you have the same issue, try to find something that makes you feel more manly.  For me it was drag performance, being around a bunch of guys in gowns made me feel like I fit in.
  10. By the same token, avoid your triggers.  I absolutely refused to watch any porn during that time, it just reminded me of what I don’t have.

So now you know, it is possible to deal with the more annoying aspects of having a uterus while not giving up your life as a guy.  It takes some practice and a certain amount of confidence, but it’s possible.

Note: If you’re still cycling after a year or so (some would say six months) you should talk to your doctor.  Same goes for breakthrough bleeding after not cycling for several months.  It’s not always a problem (in my case it was just a reproductive system that refused to die), but with this sort of thing it’s better to be sure.

25 thoughts on “Bathrooms and “The Plague”

  1. Awesome. There have been times when I’ve had to stop taking testosterone for other medical reasons, which obviously brings the monthly horror back and going through the dysphoria of dealing with it is quite difficult.

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    • I always wondered why this sort of thing doesn’t get talked about more often. It’s not as if our bodies magically change when we come out, that would be far too easy!

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  2. Good article. Just wanted to add one thing, which is my method of action. Birth control, specifically Depo Provera. It’s a shot you get once every 3 months in the arm or butt. For a majority of people who take it, the plague ends by the third shot. With my personal experience it hasn’t totally ended, it has however faded. The first made it completely go away until a a few days before the next shot. The second time it stayed, very lightly, for 3 months. The third shot it left and came back after about a month…again very lightly. I’m on my fourth shot now and it’s just small drop every now and then. No more are the cramps and heavy bleeding [that stops with the first shot usually]. Now it’s just more of a random spot every blue moon. If you go to the bathroom a few times a day you can really just wipe it.

    So yeah..enough with the details. Just wanted to through that info out there because it can be pretty helpful for those who want it gone. Note that I’m pre-T and such though, so one would have to research the effects of DP while on hormones. Also, the biggest side effect of DP is osteoporosis, which can pretty much be “cured” via eating more dairy.

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    • I didn’t even think of BC. I’ve been on T nearly as long as I’ve been an adult which makes most types pointless. Not much use in pumping more estrogen into your system when you’re trying to override it with testosterone.

      Edit: Just as a note to anyone who doesn’t know, BC uses a variety of different hormones, the most common being progesterone and estrogen. Estrogen is obviously a bit useless when you’re on T and trying to masculinise. Progesterone tends to be left up to the doctor and individual. I know guys who’ve done both progesterone BC and T for a variety of reasons, the most common being a desire for a slow transition, but no periods. DP is progesterone.

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      • Pre-transition I was also on birth control and it worsened my dysphoria. I later found out that I have an abnormally high testosterone without the shots and when I took estrogen, my body feminized even more. It was horrible. It’s one of the reasons I started transitioning at a relatively young age.

        The first time I was forced to stop taking T was in my 3rd year and my doctor gave me progesterone, which stops menses and causes hair growth, so I took that instead for a little while. It helped and it definitely caused more hair to grow, but it doesn’t help the same way mentally that T seems to do for me.

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        • weird– when I took progesterone, my busom grew, I got hyper depressed and had bleedings.
          What happened when you stopped taking T? And why did you have to take another hormone instead? why not just take nothing? I’m asking for a frined who wants to stop taking T for health reasons

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          • Stopping T was really hard the first time after being on it for two years but I have developed polycythemia in reaction to the testosterone. My doctor put me on progesterone for the sole reason that I couldn’t handle getting my menses mentally and it was the only safe hormone for me to take at the time, in terms of fixing the polycythemia. I didn’t have chest growth, as I had already had them removed. It wasn’t perfect, but it was my only choice and was something I did every 8 weeks for about two years. The polycythemia never went away and now I have to give blood every 8 weeks to stave it off. I had to fight with my doctors over this at the time because they thought my physical health was way more important than my mental health. I disagree. I want both. Not taking testosterone is really hard on me mentally. I guess everyone’s a little different, but I NEED it.

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            • Hm, so you didn’t have a hysterctomy/ovarectomy, Kian?
              That frind of mine wonders if he should stop testo for good, because of life endagering health problems. He passes 100% so I guess that won’t change anymore. But as he has had ovarectomy, he would have to take female hormones or go through menopause (?)

              I’ve heard from several transmen that T was a mood stabilizer for them, also from some intersex people.

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              • I haven’t had any surgeries down there yet. Its out of my price range at the moment. :(

                As for your friend, that sounds awful. I have no idea what happens when you have no more hormones in your system, but it doesn’t sound fun.

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                • Over here health insurances covers all surgeries– I don’t get how the US can be so keen on having a GID diagnosis on the one hand and not paying for transition on the other. It just makes no sense.

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                  • It’s pure discrimination, that’s all. Every health insurance policy I’ve ever read explicitly excludes any kind of sexual reassignment surgery, unless you can prove you are intersexed.

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                    • Apparently the policies if you work at Starbucks, Microsoft, and I think Apple include coverage for trans-related surgeries. I’m sure there are others, but they’re rare and usually require a trans person coming out and pushing the issue to get the policy changed. Really the added cost to a medium-to-large sized company isn’t horrible, it’s just that the default is to not cover them and no one thinks to ask to change that until they have a trans employee.

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                    • I should say that there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. My first trans-specific doctor managed to get my hormones covered by tricking my insurance company, but I wouldn’t recommend it. They later found out and knew what to look for in case I tried to get anything else trans-related covered. I have different insurance now.

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                    • When I worked at Starbucks (I transitioned on the job) the insurance coverage explicitly excluded anything trans-related. I haven’t worked there in a while, so it could’ve changed, I suppose. Starbucks may be evil in some ways, but they were great to me during my transition. Well, except for the health insurance difficulties.

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                  • We don’t pay for a lot of things. Therapy is often not covered under basic US insurance plans. When it is covered you can only go a certain number of times per year before you have to pay out of pocket. We don’t consider medical care a fundamental right, therefore there’s no reason to make it affordable.

                    Doesn’t help that no one in the US knows the proper definition of the word “socialist” so it gets flung around as the world’s largest insult whenever a politician mentions state-funded health care.

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            • Out of curiosity, how do you get past the ban on gay men giving blood? I know that we technically don’t count under that, but I can’t seem to get my head in a place where I can accept doing something that my non-trans gay friends can’t. (Not that it matters since I can’t give blood anyway — underweight — but still.)

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              • The way I see it, if the law won’t recognize my gender, then I won’t recognize their homophobic law. Plus, I have O+ which is in really high demand and I know that my blood is safe. My view may seem controversial but I decided a long time ago that it was okay for me, considering my few options.

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                • Fair enough. I know non-trans guys who take a similar view. I’d imagine it’d be something I thought about more if I wasn’t barred for other reasons.

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                  • Several years ago, I was perma-banned from giving blood to the Red Cross (under my old name). To me, it is especially stupid given the fact that more straight women have HIV than gay men. Obviously saying straight women couldn’t/shouldn’t donate blood is silly…

                    I’m AB+ and my blood donations would help out a lot, I’m sure.

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        • The mental effects are a huge part of why I need to be on T. It acts as a mood stabiliser for me so when I have to go off my depression gets ridiculous. I don’t know how much is placebo and how much is really the T, but it’s not something I’m willing to test out.

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  3. “For me it was drag performance, being around a bunch of guys in gowns made me feel like I fit in.”

    brilliant idea, never thought of it!!

    But now that you mention it, probably that’s why I felt so good hanging out with drag queens and guys that call each other “she”.

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    • It’s really hard to feel like the odd one out when you’re in a group that includes everyone from someone’s butch partner to a queen fighting with fake eyelashes. Part of what I love about drag, really. There’s a place for everyone.

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  4. You can also look into cloth pads. My GF (and by extension, me) have used cloth pads pretty successfully and they are 100% silent. My GF wears men’s underwear as well and the New Moon kind fit perfectly since they are just rectangles. Like, perfect fit and no slipping.

    Due to other problems I have had, I’ve also used incontinence pads in the past. These work like a charm and are also good if you’ve ever had trouble with pad chafing (these are SUPER soft). These need to be changed less often than regular pads and they hide any blood smell you have (some people do some people don’t).

    Tampons are the best if you can stand them. I have always flushed the applicators and never ever had a problem. They have some now that don’t crinkle as much as the usual ones and are tiny. OBs work well if you don’t have super-heavy flow and/or can change them more. Bonus: no applicator and so tiny you can fit one in your wallet.

    I’ve tried the Diva cup and it worked really well. Once I did get it stuck to one of my vaginal walls, but it was easy to remove. You’d only ever be swapping this out at home btw, since you can empty every 12 hours. Cloth pads worked better for me.

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    • Thanks for the suggestion Griffin! I don’t know that I’d be able to stomach cloth pads (the visual of blood is what triggers most of my dysphoria), but I’m all for people doing whatever works best for them. The more options everyone knows about the better.

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