Trans men are capable of menstruating, but most products and services geared toward reproductive health have historically focused only on women and femmes in their advertising. However, things are changing, if slowly: The hygiene company Always just announced that it will change the labels on its packaging to be gender-inclusive.
According to U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail, trans activists have called for the company to stop ignoring nonbinary and trans customers in its packaging, which typically features a female symbol. This weekend the brand responded saying that it will debut a wrapper design without the Venus insignia in stores by January 2020. The Venus symbol typically appears as a circle with a small cross below.
“We are absolutely grateful for having people like you voicing their opinions,” Always said in a tweet to Ben Saunders, an 18-year-old documentarian who led the charge.
Unfortunately, not everyone was pleased. Several feminist activists argued the packaging change functions to erase cisgender women from a product long intended for their use and erodes the significance of biological sex as a distinct rallying point for feminism.
Some critics pledged to boycott Always over the move.
“The women’s symbol has been used by feminists for decades,” activist Julie Bendel told The Daily Mail. “This is pure cowardice and virtue signalling from these big corporate brands who are capitulating to the trans agenda.”
Its makers say Always — which also sells pantiliners and “feminine” wipes — has championed girls and women for over three decades and will continue doing so.
“We’re also committed to diversity and inclusion, and we realize that not everyone who has a period and needs to use a pad identifies as female,” claimed a representative for Proctor and Gamble, which manufactures the product, in a statement. “That is why we wanted to ensure that anyone who needs to use a period product feels comfortable in doing so with Always.”
A recent YouGov poll showed respondents are split when it comes to affirming the identities of trans men. Fifty-two percent said they would feel OK with a trans male entering and using a men’s restroom, whereas half of respondents said they wouldn’t feel comfortable with a trans woman using a women’s restroom.
Overall, those polled were are also divided over whether trans people should use the restroom that corresponds with their current gender or their birth gender, including 25 percent of people saying they weren’t sure.