#HappyFlow Monday: Enriching queer people with Menstrual Hygiene Management knowledge

Words by Nthabiseng Ditshweu

As a queer woman and young leader, I have realised a gap in enriching queer people with Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) knowledge. For as far as we have been gravitating towards comprehensive sex education within the movement, I have learnt that there has been negligence on the part of marginalised queer people within the LGBTIQ community (intersex people, masculine lesbians, gender non binary/androgynous and trans men who are not on hormonal therapy) on definite education on MHM for the above-mentioned people. Issues emanating and discovered through interviews and CSE discussion platforms have been that marginalised people within the movement do not have the comfort of discussing sexuality, therefore acknowledgement of MHM education is a challenge.

Body dysphoria and dysmorphia has seen many intersex people, trans men, masculine lesbians and androgynous people not being hygienic during menstrual periods because of lack of knowledge and discrimination when seen buying, in possession of or using menstrual commodities. Some resort to health threatening methods of menstrual flow absorption like using fabrics torn from clothes and overstaying with sanitary pads or tampons, more especially in public places or privacy compromised set ups like workplaces. This poses risks to the genital anatomy as irritation may occur which might lead to infections and increase susceptibility to STI’s.

Providing remedy to the causes above, I have been advocating in recent meetings and platforms I have been to with relevant stakeholders for inclusion of exclusive comprehensive menstrual hygiene education on queer people with the marginalised people included, to consider and expand on the following recommendations:

Precise education on the importance of hygiene during menstrual cycles

Emphasis on using the most convenient and least risky menstrual commodities like menstrual cups (which can be recommended as they can be changed at 12 hour intervals and are recyclable)

Renaming bins usually put in toilets from “she” bins to just bins should be considered as the name is discriminatory

Offering psychological services on sexuality to the aforementioned people should be routine as a measure of coping with menstrual periods as the issue goes beyond biological and hormonal transitions at that point in time

Further comprehensive research on tailoring services for marginalised people through engagement is also necessary.