The conference went very well and I got some great feedback from the audience. In fact, it went so well that I've decided to edit and refine this paper and submit it to a scholarly journal. Unfortunately, journals require that you don't publish your work elsewhere, which means I can't share the paper here. But I can briefly mention some themes that emerged through interview transcripts and surveys. When reminiscing about their menarche experience, participants tended to feel excitement, dread, or dysphoria; and many experienced gender policing and received medical misinformation from parents, peer groups, and healthcare professionals. Furthermore, both menstrual instruction and popular media dealing with menstruation push social and cultural messages about gender and sexual identity which can be especially harmful for newly menstruating people who don’t fit that mold.
As I refine this paper and continue to analyze the interview and survey transcripts, I find that I have more questions. Among them: What kind of educational approach would be most helpful for young people entering menarche? Are there generational differences in how menarche is experienced? And perhaps most pressing, did my informants identify as LGBTQ at the time of menarche, or did this identity realization come later- and how did that affect the menarche experience, if at all? I’d like to invite past LGBTQ participants, as well as new LGBTQ participants, to explore these questions with me via email. If you are interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a consent form and more information about the project.
If the paper gets published, I will update with a link-- and if it doesn't, then I will self-publish and update with that link.
I received permission from mods some months ago to update on this project. Thanks to all the participants that made this research happen, and thanks to VaginaPagina for agreeing to allow me to call for participants and update on this forum. What a terrific community!