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Always removes feminine design from sanitary towels to be inclusive of trans and non-binary people

Emma Powys Maurice October 21, 2019

Always sanitary towels with the female 'Venus' symbol on the wrapper (Twitter/@aitch_ell/@CjDoult)

The sanitary brand Always has removed the Venus female symbol (♀) from its packaging of sanitary towels to be more inclusive of trans and non-binary people who have periods.

It made the decision in response to questioning from two trans advocates, who pointed out that the company’s products were used by a range of different people, not just cis women.

Trans activists Ben Saunders and Melly Bloom tweeted Always in July to ask why the female symbols were necessary.

“Could someone from Always tell me why it is imperative to have the female symbol on their sanitary products?” Bloom wrote. “There are non-binary and trans folks who still need to use your products too you know!”

Several trans men and non-binary people have spoken of the gender dysphoria they feel when having to use sanitary towels with advertising and packaging that is stereotypically ‘female’.

Trans man Jamie Raines told PinkNews: “It can be quite hard to navigate having periods as a guy when everything to do with periods is aimed very much towards women and is very female-oriented.

“The first time [I had a period as a man], I was brought back to that very dysphoric feeling that I had years ago, and I just remember again being stuck on the toilet, crying, not knowing what to do. It shook me.”

In response to the concerns, Always announced that it will be removing the female signs from its packaging from December 2019, and aims to have the new packaging distributed everywhere by February 2020.

The customer care team tweeted: “We listened to you and our marketing team worked a solution. We are glad to inform you that as of December we will use a wrapper design without the feminine symbol.

“We are absolutely grateful for having people like you voicing their opinions. Thank you for contacting us, your comments help us improve everyday!”

In a statement to Metro, Always owner Procter & Gamble added: “For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so.

“We’re also committed to diversity and inclusion, and after hearing from many people across genders and age groups, we realised that not everyone who has a period and needs to use a pad identifies as female.

“To ensure that anyone who needs to use a period product feels comfortable in doing so with Always, we updated our pad wrapper design.”

Company faces anti-trans backlash.

Although the move was widely praised by many in the LGBT+ community, it was, predictably, condemned by the ‘transphobic’ UK media.

The Daily Mail accused company of “kowtowing” to the “transgender lobby” (which does not exist).

RT News declared that “menstrual health [is] under siege”, while The Sun directly called for a boycott in their article’s headline.

Feminist campaigner Julie Bindel told The Mail on Sunday: “Removing the female symbol from sanitary towel packaging is basically denying the existence of women.

“We’re now moving towards the total elimination of women’s biology. The women’s symbol has been used by feminists for decades. This is pure cowardice and virtue signalling from these big corporate brands who are capitulating to the trans agenda.”

But the trans advocacy group, Trans Actual, responded: “We’re quite frankly worried for the women whose sense of self is so fragile that the removal of a symbol from a packet of sanitary towels makes them feel ‘erased’.”

A boycott of Always is now being spread on Twitter, but it’s not clear if participants are planning on boycotting other brands like Bodyform and Carefree, which also do not include the female symbol on them.

More: always, gender dysphoria, inclusive brands, sanitary products, sanitary towels

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