More than 11,000 people have called on supermarkets in the UK and the US to tackle stigma around menstruation and rename period products to include trans folk.
More than a quarter of the world’s population menstruates every month, yet stigma around the natural bodily function persists. Products used by people who menstruate, like tampons and pads, are almost always labelled by retailers as “feminine care” or “feminine hygiene” products.
Trans men and non-binary people can have periods too.
The petition by Naturacare, a plastic-free and natural period product brand, explains: “The word ‘feminine’ assumes that all people who have periods are feminine.
“This is not the case – trans men and non-binary people can have periods too.
“The use of the term ‘feminine hygiene’ suggests you need to have a period to be ‘feminine’, when trans women and plenty of cis women don’t have periods.”
Trans model and activist Kenny Ethan Jones described his experience of period stigma in an article for NBC, writing: “Having a period already causes me a lot of dysphoria, but this dysphoria becomes heightened when I have to shop for a product that is labeled as ‘women’s health’ and, in most cases, is pretty and pink.”
The constant messaging from retailers that all women, and only women, have menstrual cycles contributes to stigma and shame surrounding periods, as does their use of words like “sanitary” and “hygiene”.
“The use of the terms ‘sanitary products’ or ‘feminine hygiene products’ suggests there is something unsanitary or unhygienic about having a period when this is not the case,” the petition adds.
“Avoiding terms like ‘period’ and ‘menstruation’, as though they are shameful, upholds the very real stigma around this natural bodily function. This stigma affects people’s quality of life, every day.”
Language is powerful, and supermarkets have the power to either alienate and shame people with their language or include them and normalise their experiences.
It continues: “We think it’s time our society ditched the code words and started calling it what it is – a period. Then we can begin to have a mature and respectful conversation about the biology behind menstruation and remove some of the shame from the subject.
“If supermarkets commit to making this small but powerful change, they will be sending an important message – periods are not dirty and they are not something to be ashamed of!”
According to Natracare, although some online retailers have changed their language around periods, “no physical retailer has made the change in the UK, nor in North America.”
“Language is powerful, and supermarkets have the power to either alienate and shame people with their language or include them and normalise their experiences,” the brand added.
More than 11,300 people have signed the petition at time of writing.