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Photography Ashley Armitage via Instagram/@ladyist

Always remove female symbol to be more trans and non-binary inclusive

Menstrual product brand Always take a big step forward in inclusivity

The menstrual product brand Always has announced it will be removing the venus symbol – long used to represent women and the female sex – from the wrappers of its products in a bid to be more inclusive of their transgender, non-binary and intersex customers. 

The welcome move comes after activists including Stonewall’s Young Campaigner of the Year Ben Saunders questioned the brand over the use of the symbol which excluded those customers who do not identify as female. 

In response, the brand’s parent company Procter & Gamble said it would remove the symbol from Always packaging from December onwards with full distribution expected by February 2020. “For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so,” P&G wrote in a statement. “We're also committed to diversity & inclusion and are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers.”

The move has been applauded by many for helping to relieve the dysmorphia experienced by transgender and non-binary people.  

“For folks using these products on a nearly monthly basis, it can be harmful and distressing to see binary/gendered images, coding, language and symbols. So, using less coded products can make a huge difference,” Steph deNormand, the Trans Health Program manager at Fenway Health told NBC News. “Trans and nonbinary folks are constantly misgendered, and a gesture like this can broaden out the experiences and open up spaces for those who need the products.”

Gynaecologist Dr Jennifer Gunter posted on Twitter saying, “Some trans men/non binary people menstruate. As do cis women who despise overly feminine products. Cis women who can’t menstruate and trans women are harmed by the assumption that menstruation defines femininity. Less ink for printing better for planet. This is a win all around.”

Not everyone was happy with the decision, however. A number of TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists) and other women have spoken out about what they believe to be female erasure, voicing their concerns under the hashtag #boycottAlways

Those in the trans community have countered these claims. In a piece for the Metro, Kenny Ethan Jones writes about the damaging effect his period had on his mental health and dysmorphia and commends Always for the decision.

“It is not an attack on women, it’s not denying the existence of women, nor is it an attempt to erase them. It’s an opportunity to become inclusive, which in my opinion has no impact on women. What it will do is remove some of the discomfort and stigma associated around trans, non-binary and intersex individuals who have to buy and use these products,” he writes. 

“In the future, gender-neutral sanitary options could make all the difference for young people trying to come to terms with their identities, while simultaneously dealing with the added hardships brought on by puberty.”