I remember feeling like something was wrong with me because I was getting my period very infrequently — like 4 times a year. I was super hairy, moody and I was well past puberty. I started to do my own research because the hypochondriac in me is strong. Also, I just know my body and after doing some research I discovered Polycystic Ovary Syndrome aka PCOS. I went to my doctor with my findings and I was diagnosed and put on Metformin which is typically a drug used to treat diabetes, in order to balance out my insulin levels.
According to medical professionals, PCOS is categorized as a hormonal imbalance impacting those assigned female at birth (AFAB). A person with PCOS has higher androgens which are considered to be male hormones, that causes more hair to be produced on the body and face, infertility, depression, excess insulin (which can lead to diabetes) and much more. On my own journey of gender identity I started to unpack these beliefs that I was not feminine enough, but as I began to understand myself more, it also made me feel valid in my non-binary identity. The more and more I started to question the binary that society tells us we should fit into. Of course, being non-binary is not a one-size-fits-all because this identity manifests in different ways for different people. The many things that cis women cling to as markers for womanhood such as child birthing, periods and lack of hair was not my full experience, but yet I was still perceived as a woman. Though according to my genetic makeup, I tip the scales of maleness more than my female counterparts. All the healthcare providers could offer was birth control to force my body to produce periods or Metformin.
The lack of research or understanding of PCOS, but the desire to use drugs that push you into a category just showed the lack of cultural competence of bodies that were not born to fit into a binary.
When I was on Metformin, it caused me to have a lot of side effects that were not worth the so called “benefits” it was offering. The lack of research or understanding of PCOS, but the desire to use drugs that push you into a category just showed the lack of cultural competence of bodies that were not born to fit into a binary. Holding onto these cliches that we have to fit in one category denies non-binary, trans, intersex folks, and anyone else who does not identify or carry the idealistic markers of men or women to receive holistic care. We all deserve individualistic health care and to spend more than 5 minutes with our doctor who is just reading from a chart and literally knows nothing else about you.
I am in no way a medical professional, but I also started to wonder about the correlation of trans masculine folks who might have PCOS, and the increase of testosterone without being properly diagnosed if they may have PCOS. Again, because we do not have much holistic healthcare or healthcare that is catered to queer folks or black folks, or most people of color in general, things get lost in translation. There isn’t much of a connection with one’s healthcare because you can only go to this place if you want a queer friendly person or that place if you want a brown friendly person, and there is no intersectionality involved in diagnosis, but rather a hyper focus on one particular identity.
Considering that PCOS is often not diagnosed by medical professionals because they do not seek to truly understand, but to quickly place you in a gendered category, what does this say about our need to place people from birth based on their genitals that they are male or female? This only shows that we have a lot more work to do to bring down the heteronormative nature embedded in healthcare as well as the commodification of healthcare because adequate and culturally competent healthcare should be a human right. It also shows me that I know myself better than anyone, and I do not need a medical professional or anyone else telling me who I am. My gender identity and expression belong to me and no matter how others may perceive me, they do not determine who I am.
Follow this link to find out the symptoms or for more information on PCOS.