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Ara Chalym

Born in 1996 in Moscow, Russia, of Russian-Turkish origins, Ara was always passionate about art and storytelling. But since their parents wanted a better future for their weird kid, they insisted on them instead training in something more practical and predictable like foreign languages at a linguistics department. Thus, Ara graduated from Moscow State Linguistic University and moved to Bologna, Italy to continue their endeavours in the Masters ‘Language, Society and Communication’. However, once you fall in love with art and storytelling, it’s for life. Now, right in the middle of the collapse of society Ara decided to change careers and do art instead. If you are curious how they will figure it out or you have any means to help them to figure it out, subscribe to their social media or contact them in the old-fashioned way via e-mail. Ciao!



Illustration by Ara Chalym, representing in an artistic fashion reproductive organs (ovaries, tubes, vagine) as eyes, faces, swords, and more.



    Coping with gender       

Quite often non-binary folks face gender dysphoria during these challenging times and it’s totally understandable. We live in a world that forces us to believe in menstruation being a female-only-party. Due to mainstream discourse periods become an unpleasant reminder of a body and gender experience* that is unwanted. Of course, safe ways to avoid menstruation exist, however, not everyone wishes to start this journey or can afford it right now.

My main strategies to cope with gender dysphoria during periods if it suddenly hits: 

  1. Other non-binaries talking about their cycles! Representation makes me noticeably more comfortable in my body! 

  2. Menstrual cup and reusable menstrual pads with funky prints. I can’t even explain the extent of how much my personal experience of periods improved with these tools! I always felt itchy and painfully uncomfortable with ordinary ‘normal’ pads.  Luckily, ages ago I came across menstrual cups in a feminist blog using inclusive language and it produced my first positive impression! However, cups and reusable cotton pads might not work for everyone but this is my personal experience. 

  3. Black boxers. I feel more badass and more balanced in them during these tough days. 

  4. Imagination. I suffered in my teenage years when it was impossible to find anything on non-binarity in my native language, but I remember when at school someone accidently compared periods with werewolf cycles as a joke and… BAM! My brain just exploded. It was liberating, at least in my imagination, to connect menstruation with something non-feminine, neutral. Also, sometimes as I was lying in bed and waiting for my painkillers to kick in, I liked to imagine myself being a wounded knight healing after a gruesome battle. 

  5. ‘Seasons’ perception. I like this one because it again makes menstruation less women-only. The Earth has cycles, the Sun has cycles, the Moon has cycles, your body has cycles. When bleeding starts, you’re just entering your personal winter season. 

  6. Baggy clothes. Cosy and soft. Feels almost like someone dear is hugging you.

star intersex symbol

*this zine talks about my personal gender experience which might differ from yours, thus, not all my advice could work, take only what resonates

PMS: Pessimist's Macabre Saga

In my twenties I realised that I have a quite dramatic PMS – before I used to believe that my mind just goes crazy for no reason.  

In my opinion, the PMS part actually is the most difficult to cope with, not the periods themselves. When our emotions run high and our energy goes low, we should treat ourselves with kindness and compassion but instead we continue to work hard and hustle. Unfortunately, society doesn’t care about personal tides, it expects us to always grit our teeth and push.

If you’re a non-binary dealing with PMS, please, know that your feelings and experiences are valid as anyone else’s. Marking the days of your cycle in a special app (gender-neutral ones do exist) will make you more aware of what to expect. Thus, you can readjust your work schedule and get into a more natural flow. 

Let’s move to the fun part of this Pessimist’s Macabre Saga! Very often some days before menstruation I experience insomnia and a weird craving for detailed research on absolutely random stuff.

Here is the list of the most peculiar places my insomnia led me to in the middle of the night:

- an absolutely brilliant one-hour video ‘Demonology Explained in Obsessive Detail’ 

- Vladimir Bibikhin (Soviet and Russian religious thinker), ‘Forest’ (hyle)

- ‘How to Survive in the Wild’ type of videos 

- ‘How to Survive a Nuclear Attack’ type of videos 

- ‘The Contemporary Relevance of the Iliad’

- kakapo 

- Documentary BBC series ‘Churches: How to read them’

- History of Underclothes 

- Daily Life in Victorian London 

- Lord of the Rings food recipes


In conclusion. 

Always remember that your period doesn’t make you less non-binary! Perceive it as your body just telling you: ‘Hi, pal, I’m doing fine. And how are you?’.


Ara, your non-binary bestie


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