Cass Clemmer, the author and illustrator of Adventures of Toni the Tampon, a colouring book that promotes menstruators of all genders, recently shared another message to highlight the important issue.
In a photo shared on the Toni the Tampon Instagram page, Clemmer, who is trans, can be seen sitting on a bench with legs slightly open to reveal a period stain.
“Y’all know I’m trans and queer, and what that means for me all around, is something that’s neither there nor here, It’s a happy, scary middle ground,” Clemmer begins the post, using the #BleedingWhileTrans hashtag and relating thoughts in rhythmic flow. “So when I talk gender inclusion, and I wrote these rhymes to help you see, I’m not tryna bring up something shallow, periods are honestly pretty traumatic for me.”
Clemmer, who grew up as a missionary’s child in a conservative Baptist community, takes readers back to the time of the “first menstruation.”
“I was 15 and still happy, running around, all chest bared and buck, climbing trees, digging holes, and no one gave a single f—. I mean I think my ma was worried, so I went and grew out my locks, a sign I was normal, still a girl, a painted neon sign for my gender box.”
“So, the day I got my period, my god, a day so proud, This little andro f—ed up kid, had been bestowed the straight, cis shroud. The relief got all meshed up in my pain, in that moment, I sat down and cried, Just thanking god I was normal, while mourning the freedom that had died.”
But when everyone happily told Clemmer that “your hips will grow,” the little artist couldn’t stop crying.
“What’s wrong with you? You’ll be a woman!” Clemmer was told. “They kept celebrating a child dying. See my body had betrayed me, that red dot, the wax seal, on a contract left there broken, a gender identity that wasn’t real.”
“Most people deal with blood and tissue, and yet my body forces me to surrender, cause every time I get my cycle, is another day I shed my gender. My boobs betray me first, I feel them stretching out my binder, I send up questions, ‘am I cursed?” And wish to god that she was kinder.'”
“The five days it flows, I try to breathe, I dissociate, while my body rips outs parts of me, leaving nothing but a shell of hate. The blood drips from an open wound, of a war waging deep inside my corpse, the battle between mind and body, immovable object; unstoppable force,” Clemmer concludes the poignant poem with a few hashtags, including #bleedingwhiletrans and #mencanmenstruate.
Of course, the post didn’t come without its share of clapbacks.
Liberalism is a mental disorder & each day liberals manage to stoop to a new & even more depraved low! pic.twitter.com/gO371ynLVt
— Mark Collett (@MarkACollett) July 15, 2017
Now that is just strange! Periods ARE just for women, A girl in jeans and a short haircut is still a girl – to be blunt.
— Vanessa (@flufficat) July 15, 2017
However, the author has also received love and encouragement from Instagram followers to stand strong.
“You are incredible! Love what you are doing. Stay strong!!”
“Love you the most, you are incredible! Keep being bold and speaking out! Haters always hate but in the end what’s good wins!”
Clemmer isn’t one to back down from controversy. After right-wing media took offence over the Adventures of Toni the Tampon colouring book, the artist took to Instagram with this empowering post.
“The right-wing media has attacked my #periodcoloringbook all week- calling it ‘child abuse’ because it affirms trans and gender non conforming menstruators. In response, I am donating all profits from this week to the @translifeline. If you stand with menstruators of all genders, please share this post. When they go low, we go high.”