Hindsight is 20/20, but I wish I had had a single coach in my adolescence who had the moxie to openly speak about the female hormonal cycle. Perhaps if someone had taught me how to work with the natural, 28-day hormonal flow that my body undergoes each month, I wouldn’t have felt so ashamed about having a period. Perhaps I wouldn’t have dreaded hours of barre practice and rehearsal through cramps and bloating, begrudgingly pulling on my ballet tights and leotards despite period leak anxiety, and wishing I could just skip girlhood entirely.

Despite celebrities like Amy Schumer headlining feminine hygiene product commercials and public schools giving pre-teen girls a mediocre, cursory overview of puberty, our society maintains a pretty period-averse mentality. It’s taboo to talk about menstruation, not only because bleeding every month for several days isn’t the most fun task for a girl to deal with, but also because it signifies entrance into her fertile years.

Our culture has also fallen in favor of allopathic medicine versus the more holistic practices from days of yore, which is understandable since we’ve discovered many lifesaving interventions for illness. But, by pooh-poohing holistic education in favor of medicalization, we’ve also taught ourselves to work against our mammalian nature, to seek stopgap solutions instead of solving the root issues.

My teachers, coaches, and instructors may not have even known much about the four phases, and yes—women’s hormonal cycles include a lot more than just a seven-or-so-day period. Growing up, no one really spoke openly about menstrual cycles. So, I took the path of least resistance and rejected my nature.

A period-averse mentality is one symptom of a broader trend of women overcorrecting their femininity and adopting masculine behavior. We were supposed to level the playing field (and, in many ways, our sex has done so successfully) but, in seeking equality, we’ve actually stunted our physical nature. 

Is having a period inconvenient? Cover up your PMS symptoms—which might actually be dormant hormonal and endocrine disorders like PCOS or endometriosis—with Midol or ibuprofen. Does your period get in the way of girlbossing up the corporate ladder? Take contraceptives that can effectively shut down your female hormonal system, prevent you from even menstruating, and stop you from ovulating—all of which are critical markers of sound health.

Erasing womanhood is the trendiest cultural movement du jour. But despite how visible these efforts are, some people remain blind to the ramifications of displacing, and then replacing, gender norms. 

I’m not just referring to a character like Dylan Mulvaney, effeminately parading around in opposite-sex costumery, or one like Chelsea Handler, placed on a pedestal for rejecting motherhood, submitting to self-serving hedonism, and embracing the corporate “hustle.” I’m talking about the fact that from government agencies to college campuses, we can’t even talk about the female body anymore.

I highly doubt that early feminists could have predicted that the sexual revolution they were championing would eventually devolve into the “trans” lobby. Women are now supposed to smile and nod while males beat female athletes and expose them to their genitalia in locker rooms, or snatch beauty pageant crowns from female competitors. Degendered language has become the standard for public health agencies and Congress, while males are given praise on International Women’s Day, and more.

Universities are, unsurprisingly, some of the worst offenders when it comes to acquiescing to a “transgender” agenda. Instead of prioritizing a meaningful education for America’s youth, our campuses are re-educating students into believing biological falsehoods. One of the latest examples took place at Oberlin College, where the then-head women’s lacrosse coach Kim Russell was silenced, gaslit, and urged to repent for the sin of unashamedly acknowledging there are physical differences between men and women.

Not only did Oberlin administrators subject her to Maoist-style struggle sessions to elicit an apology for a simple social media post—one that celebrated the biologically female winner of the women’s 500 free swimming competition, Emma Weyant (and not the male competitor, Lia Thomas). Russell also revealed to Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) that administrators reprimanded her for talking about the female body—despite the fact that she was coaching a women’s team. 

To help her students achieve their best athletic performance, Russell had the foresight to bring in a guest instructor who specialized in cycle syncing. As we know is especially the case for premenopausal women, hormonal cycles impact every aspect of life. Tracking cycles and syncing up your diet or exercise routines is a strategy used even by World Cup winners to get in tune with their bodies.

Despite originally receiving positive feedback from players about this female cycle specialist, Russell was later told by her athletic director that this session, which she referred to as “period talk,” was an “attack on trans.” Some athletes “fucking hate” getting their periods, the athletic director is heard telling Russell in a recording obtained by IWF. In light of that, she instructed Russell to curtail her usage of gendered language and cease instruction on how to work with women’s natural hormonal cycles and not against them.

While universities like Oberlin are so dug into the trans agenda that even talking about the female body is now taboo, Kim Russell refused to cover up thousands of years of evolutionary truth. Her punishment? Oberlin College administrators removed Russell from her position as head women’s lacrosse coach and forcibly siphoned her into a pencil-pushing desk job away from the athletes she fondly coached for five years.

I wish I had had a coach like Russell in my most formative years, someone who could have opened up my eyes to the concept of living in rhythm with my physiology. Had I, I may have come to terms with my feminine identity much sooner. And I may not have ended up needlessly shutting down my own cycles with hormonal contraceptives, only to now spend several years anxiously working to get my period back. 

But I didn’t have a coach like Kim Russell, and now, neither do the women’s lacrosse players at Oberlin College. I lament that future generations of women won’t either, if objective scientific knowledge and “period talk” continue to be taken off the table.