I got my first period when I was 12 years old. It was a week of some of the worst pain I had ever felt in my life up to that point. I had most of that time off school, because I was also throwing up from the pain. People said I was now a woman, but I didn't feel much like a woman.
Every month of the next few years I would suffer through varying levels of discomfort and pain, never knowing whether this month would be particularly bad, or whether I'd be able to control it with painkillers. I spent many uncomfortable days in the medical room at school being told I should go home, but being unable to get up in order to go home without feeling dizzy and my vision blacking out.
I went to doctor after doctor to beg them for something that would help. They had a variety of suggestions including the hilarious "you should just go for a walk, that really helps me". How could I go for a walk when I could barely stand? I tried different pills and painkillers, but none of it seemed to make any difference in the long run. I might have a month or two of relief, but it would soon hit me again.
While I was recovering from serious injuries a few years ago, I didn't have a period for several months and I felt so free. I hoped that they might be gone forever, something I hoped for after every period. I wanted them gone, I have always wanted them gone.
I was used to using pads because that's what my mum said I should use, and the one time I needed to use tampons I found it incredibly uncomfortable. So as well as the pain, I also had to deal with the unpleasantness of seeing the evidence of my periods in my pants, and on the tissue, every time I went to the loo. At the beginning of my transition I used to have to switch back to female underwear so that I could use pads during my period. It wasn't until I was 18 that I discovered applicator tampons, which were absolutely amazing for me. I was able to wear my boxers all the time, and it made changing sanitary items much less dysphoric for me.
There was a great article written on Everyday Feminism, about how periods do not have to be inherently female, because trans men also get them. I love the sentiment, and really wish I could make it work for me, but I can't. My uterus might not be female, but that doesn't mean I want it.
Not every trans person feels they were "born in the wrong body", but it is a cliche which applies to my personal experience. Some parts of my body are more wrong than others, and my uterus is most definitely wrong. I have an overwhelming sense that it should not be there, but it has been reminding me every month for the last 8 years that it is.
I've just had the IUS put in, and after several weeks of constant pain, it seems to finally be subsiding. I've still been getting some irregular bleeding, but the pain has finally become manageable. It's merely a stop gap though, until I can finally have the surgery I need to remove this part of my body with causes me so much pain, both physically and mentally.
But what about children?
Something being trans does make you consider a lot younger than most is your fertility. Having a hysterectomy is a permanent operation which would leave me unable to carry my own children and, as I also plan to have my ovaries removed at the same time, produce my own biological offspring with current technologies.
Some trans men do carry their own children, but I have always known that that wasn't for me. To begin with I didn't think I wanted children because I couldn't ever imagine being pregnant and I had no desire whatsoever to give birth to my own child. I later realised that while I couldn't ever see myself being a mother, I strongly desired to be a father, and I definitely did want to have children one day.
I'm perfectly happy with going down the adoption route and would love the opportunity to give a child a home who needs one. While preserving my fertility might be a nice dream in an ideal world, the reality is that taking steps to do so would only further delay my medical transition and would not necessarily be that useful or successful.