Women Are ‘Menstruators’ and ‘People Who Menstruate’ To Some Massachusetts Politicians

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2022/04/15/women-are-menstruators-and-people-who-menstruate-to-some-massachusetts-politicians/

What’s the proper term to use when referring to a woman?

Some liberal politicians in Massachusetts use the terms “menstruator” or “people who menstruate.”


“Menstruator” and “people who menstruate” are theoretically gender-neutral terms that refer to the menstrual cycle experienced by female human beings during and after puberty. So if a biological woman identifies as another gender, that person would be a menstruator or qualify as being among “people who menstruate.” However, a biological male that identifies as a different gender is not a menstruator. Therefore, a biological female who identifies as a transgender man would be a menstruator, but a biological male who identifies as a transgender woman would not. 

State Senator Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) has embraced the term; she uses it when speaking about her support for “An Act Concerning Disposable Menstrual Products in Schools” (H.690). It’s a bill that would expand access to menstrual products in public schools. It would do so by providing them free of charge in restrooms at schools that serve grades 6 through 12.

But the bill, she notes, is not specifically meant to benefit just girls.

“No one should have to choose between food, a roof over their head, their education, and access to menstrual products,”Jehlen tweeted on March 3, 2022. “Yet every day in Massachusetts, menstruators are forced to make exactly that choice!”

While some may assume the bill means girls’ bathrooms, it never makes that distinction. 

Here is the exact wording of the bill:


Section 1. Chapter 71 of the General Laws is hereby amended by adding at the end thereof the following section 68A:–

Section 2. For purposes of this section, “disposable menstrual products” means products including, but not limited to, tampons and sanitary napkins for use in connection with the menstrual cycle.

Section 3. All elementary and secondary public schools in the Commonwealth serving students in any grade from grade six through grade twelve shall provide disposable menstrual products in the restrooms of such school building or buildings. Such products shall be provided at no charge to students. Such amount may be adjusted from time to time based on utilization. School districts shall work to ensure that such products shall be available in a convenient manner that does not stigmatize any student seeking such product.

Section 4. This act shall take effect on August 1, 2022.


NewBostonPost asked a sponsor of the bill by email last year about the lack of specificity about bathrooms, and whether that means that the bill would require public schools to provide tampons in boys’ bathrooms.

He didn’t deny it.

“The bill only directs that school districts provide disposable menstrual products in the restrooms and that ‘such amount may be adjusted from time to time based on utilization,’ ” the sponsor, state Representative Jeffrey Roy (D-Franklin), said in an email message last July. “It further provides that:  ‘School districts shall work to ensure that such products shall be available in a convenient manner that does not stigmatize any student seeking such product.’ ”

Roy doesn’t use the term “menstruator.” But Jehlen isn’t alone in her embrace of the term.

Jordan Meehan is another one. He was the Legislative and Policy Manager for the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth from 2019 to 2022. He now serves as the campaign manager for Brookline attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan in her bid for attorney general.

Meehan, a Democrat and self-described democratic socialist, also used the term when voicing his support for the menstrual product bill. 

“Not all women menstruate, and not all menstruators are women. Trans men menstruate too, and also need access to menstrual products in bathrooms,” Meehan tweeted. “Share your story and why you think Massachusetts should pass the I AM bill at http://MassNOW.org/IAM.”

Meehan unsuccessfully challenged incumbent state Representative Kevin Honan (D-Brighton) in the September 2020 Democratic primary in the 17th Suffolk District (which covers the Allston and Brighton neighborhoods of Boston). Honan, a member of the Massachusetts Legislature since 1987, got 54 percent of the vote to Meehan’s 46 percent.

Additionally, Jesse Mermell, a Brookline Democrat who ran for a U.S. House seat in the state’s Fourth Congressional District in 2020, has used a similar term:  “people who menstruate.”

Mermell tweeted on July 31, 2020, “COVID disproportionately impacting people who menstruate, child care on the brink of collapse, reproductive rights under assault. We need to #ElectWomen.”

Jehlen, Meehan, and Mermell could not be reached for comment on Thursday or Friday this week. 


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