The conversation around periods has moved forwards in some ways: we’re slightly more open about them, we’re slightly less ashamed, we’re slightly better educated.
There’s more work to do.
But it’s still seen as a cis woman-exclusive issue, and that’s where we haven’t progressed at all.
Periods aren’t just experienced by women (and not all women get periods anyway) so as a society we’re often ostracising members of the LGBTQ+ community when speaking of periods.
When brands launch new products, the packaging and campaign frequently speaks to the same audience over and over.
Does pink packing and the depiction a woman jumping up and down sound familiar? This is the tampon advert we’ve repeatedly engaged with over the years.
Although there are a few notable exceptions – like BodyForm’s recent advert celebrating the uterus – we still haven’t reached period inclusivity as a society.
Period inclusivity involves equal availability of suitable period products and associated support, through mediums such as education, representation and healthcare.
We’re still falling short here, and members of the LGBTQ+ community have highlighted a need to de-gender period products.
As found by period care brand Freda, who is launching a new inclusive product range called Cycle, over a third of adults who’ve ever menstruated have experienced feelings of shame or embarrassment around their period.
Less than a third of British adults think transgender men should be considered in conversations around period inclusivity, which reveals how much of an afterthought this community has been.
The fear of being ‘outed’ by gendered period packaging was also a concern among those surveyed.
Transgender activist Jamie Raines is working with Freda, and he tells Metro.co.uk: ‘The whole “women’s issue” sums up how I’ve always felt about it, I’ve felt very excluded from those conversations.
‘Periods for me were something that always made me feel like there was something wrong with me – it was kind of like this message from my body that something’s not right.
‘Constant messaging from society that “men don’t have periods” and periods are a woman-only thing and the hyperfeminised space that is built around periods, products, discussion and education, always made me feel excluded and uncomfortable approaching the topic to talk about it or buying products.’
In Jamie’s own journey to self-acceptance, periods were a point of tension.
‘I am a man regardless of the functions of my body,’ he says, which is something that he initially struggled with.
The impact of how society sees periods and who they pertain to made that stage harder to reach. Even shopping for period products can be triggering.
‘[Buying products] reinforces feelings of discomfort and it takes that internal difficulty with this experience you’re having and makes it external.
‘It’s like you’re having these internal feelings of discomfort because your body is telling you something that doesn’t feel right, but then then you go to the supermarket and you see the shelving and packaging and language surrounding periods and it’s like you’re getting these messages externally too that your experience is “wrong”.’
In the past, Jamie switched from a testosterone gel to another type and after several years of not having periods they returned temporarility.
He now no longer has them, but the experience served as another reminder of how little mainstream branding and discussions have changed.
He says there is ‘still has a lot of pushback from people’ and that ‘it’s going to take a while for there to be an attitude shift’.
‘Trolls tend to shout “only women get periods” – it doesn’t tend to get more creative than that,’ he says, though he does believe people are starting to be more accepting of trans people overall.
Feelings of shame are still common for anyone who gets periods, but Jamie says that ‘as a trans person it feels like an extra layer to the shame and embarrassment’.
In his activism, people at the early stages of transitioning have reached out to tell Jamie that ‘having the conversation in this way has been useful for them in accepting things and feeling more comfortable when it comes to periods.
‘It’s something that I know would have helped me 10 years ago.’
Freda’s Cycle range can be viewed here.
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