This weeks blogs has been written by LC [she/they] a Proudly King’s Committee Member, who has worked in King’s Libraries & Collections since 2012. LC explores the importance of inclusivity when thinking and talking about menopause & menstruation. (Our new guidance can also be found below).
Menstruation and menopause can still be taboo subjects – given their effects on both personal and working life, an increased understanding is beneficial for both public and private arenas. It is vital conversations are inclusive, and education about these functions is available to all, regardless of personal experience.
A lack of research about menopause and menstruation, particularly about how these functions affect trans, non-binary, intersex and gender non-conforming populations, means there are common misconceptions. Note:
- Neither function – nor the absence of either function – is restricted to gender. There are plenty of cisgender women who do not experience menopause or menstruation – these functions cannot be assumed based on perceived biological sex.
- Both menstruation and menopause are extremely individual to each person. It is commonly known age varies for menopause/menstruation start or end; other variations are seen in the number or intensity of symptoms, and preferred methods, products or medications when experiencing these functions.
Benefits of inclusivity around menstruation and menopause
This post focuses on work-related benefits around an inclusive understanding of menstruation and menopause.
By understanding common requirements, line managers and those facilitating or organising office setups, can help maximise employee wellbeing and productivity. Employees can feel more comfortable suggesting adjustments to working space (e.g. desk fans, provision of additional bathroom equipment amongst others) and raising related medical issues where necessary. With a wider understanding, the onus is removed from those experiencing menopause or menstruation to explain what can be a deeply personal topic, and focus is instead shifted to actionable adjustments.
Whilst it should not be expected for employees to explain bodily functions, they should feel comfortable and empowered to raise issues or request adjustments. By inviting all those who experience, or are about to experience, menstruation and menopause, to relevant conversations, it ensures viewpoints are not excluded due to an assumption someone does not experience these functions.
Ways to help
Learning about menopause and menstruation, and in particular, how these can affect people differently, is key to building a supportive and understanding environment. Some resources are linked in the short references.
Allowing flexibility in the workplace creates an accommodating environment, not necessarily restricted to medical issues or human functions. For example, air conditioning, desk fans, or allowing staff to work in different areas, where practical, during hot weather, improves the workspace. Variations in uniform options, and private places to change during the day, increase staff comfort.
Being open to suggestions is most important; menstruation and menopause may have other intersections. I have focused on gender here; however, age, race and disability are amongst other characteristics where menopause/menstruation research has traditionally been sparse. As we increase our knowledge and inclusiveness around these widely experienced functions, we can help to ensure colleagues feel supported and accepted here at King’s and beyond.
- firstname.lastname@example.org (our King’s Staff LGBTQIA+ network).
- email@example.com (for Library related enquiries).
- firstname.lastname@example.org (for more information & to get in touch with the author).
References & Resources:
- Nice Guidance on Menopause: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng23
- BELL, J. (2019). What it’s like to get your period when you’re trans, February 18,. Available from: https://helloclue.com/articles/cycle-a-z/what-it’s-like-to-get-your-period-when-you’re-trans. – an easy-to-read, informal article with accounts from trans men, nonbinary, and genderqueer menstruators.
- FRANK, S.E. (2020). Queering Menstruation: Trans and Non‐Binary Identity and Body Politics. Sociological Inquiry, May, vol. 90 (2), pp. 371-404. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/soin.12355 CrossRef. ISSN 0038-0245. DOI 10.1111/soin.12355.
- GLYDE, T. (2021). How can therapists and other healthcare practitioners best support and validate their queer menopausal clients?. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, February 17, vol. ahead-of-print (ahead-of-print), pp. 1-24. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14681994.2021.1881770 CrossRef. ISSN 1468-1994. DOI 10.1080/14681994.2021.1881770.
- LOWIK, A.J. (2021). “Just because I don’t bleed, doesn’t mean I don’t go through it”: Expanding knowledge on trans and non-binary menstruators. Null, vol. 22 (1-2), pp. 113-125. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1080/15532739.2020.1819507 ISSN 2689-5269. DOI 10.1080/15532739.2020.1819507.