Trans women do not menstruate. Most people are aware of this; but Germaine Greer felt the need to point it out, yet again. Thanks a bunch, Germaine. But her ignorant and cruel dismissal of women’s experience does not only extend to trans women.
If you didn’t find your pants full of blood when you were 13 there’s something important about being a woman you don’t know. No, actually: the normal range for menarche is 10.5-14.5 years, and The normal variation in the age at which adolescent changes occur is so wide that puberty cannot be considered to be pathologically delayed until the menarche has failed to occur by the age of 18.
Amenorrhea, the failure to menstruate, can be caused by lifestyle, genetic and other health conditions. Girls with Turner’s Syndrome have only one X chromosome, rather than the usual two. They have underdeveloped ovaries resulting in a lack of monthly periods. I hope Germaine would not deny that my friend Colin’s daughter is a real woman.
Because it is always personal. It is real individuals that suffer from these words. It might just be academic for Germaine, but not for Stephanie, or her family. Given that there are more than ten times as many women with Turner’s Syndrome than women with Gender Recognition Certificates in Britain, Germaine causes pain for far more women than just us.
No, I did not find my pants full of blood, but human beings suffer a wide range of anxieties around reproduction. It is not even true that women’s are always different from men’s: only women can worry about needing an abortion, or their own health problems due to pregnancy, but any other anxieties apply also to men, and especially to trans women: can women who have not experienced unchosen childlessness empathise with those who have?
Of course they can. Empathy is possible across a wide range of unshared experiences. Germaine’s insistence that it is not demeans all people, not just trans women; and shows why those who are willing to include us have a more excellent way. Her waving her bloody knickers in my face, when she seeks to exclude me, says more about her than me.