A transgender artist released a powerful photo last week in an attempt to broaden the cultural understanding of the different types of people who experience menstruation.
Cass Clemmer, who uses they/them pronouns, posted the photo of themself on Instagram on July 12, depicting them free-bleeding while holding up a sign that reads “Periods are not just for women #BleedingWhileTrans.”
The photo was accompanied by a poem the artist wrote for a spoken word event at a menstrual health conference last summer.
Clemmer, who works as a menstrual health activist, told HuffPost that they decided to stage the photo after the backlash to The Adventures of Toni the Tampon: A Period Coloring Book, a project they created to introduce kids of all genders to the human experience of menstruation.
“I remember sharing for the first time with a friend of mine that I wasn’t able to wear my binder that day because I was on my period and my boobs had swelled up so much that it made it hard to breathe,” Clemmer told HuffPost. “We had been friends for awhile and she’s a feminist activist, but when I realized that not even she had considered what it was like for people like me to experience bleeding on a (ir)regular basis I knew that I had to go public with my story to help shift the mindset around tying periods to womanhood and femininity. Not all people who menstruate are women, and not all women menstruate.”
While Clemmer told HuffPost that a significant portion of the reaction to their photo has been rooted in transphobia, they’ve seen people who have broadened their own understanding of transgender menstrual experience and learned from the photo.
“There are a lot of people who have never considered what it’s like to get your period while not identifying as a woman and I have seen a lot of educational and respectful conversations between commenters on my thread that give me a lot of hope for the future,” Clemmer continued. “My favorite reactions, however, are and always will be the response, I get from fellow trans and non-binary folks who have written to me to say that because of my poem, they feel less alone in the world. For me, there’s no greater motivation and honor than that.”
Clemmer’s menstrual health activism also extends into the publishing world, having created their own publishing entity called “Bloody Queer Publishing.” Their work of Toni the Tampon will also continue, with Clemmer planning to take a road trip with the character “to keep making people laugh and smile while smashing the period taboo.”
Want to see more from Toni the Tampon and this artist’s activist efforts? Head here.