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Vic Jouvert Instagram/@mycallaly

This period campaign is giving a voice to the trans people who menstruate

TextAlex Peters

Organic brand Callaly says it’s time to recognise that not only cisgender women have periods

Not all people who menstruate are women. It’s a simple concept yet one that many people still seem to struggle with. Now, a new campaign from organic menstrual brand Callaly is urging the industry to change the narrative around periods and who experiences them. 

Aiming to provide “the whole bloody truth” on periods, Callaly has released research as part of its campaign that shows two-thirds (66 per cent) of people don’t feel their experience of periods is shown in the media and advertising. To combat this, the brand is telling the stories of 13 people who menstruate including the men, intersex, and non-binary people whose voices have in the past been ignored and unrepresented.

“It’s time we recognised that not only cisgender women have periods,” Kate Huang, CMO of Callaly told Forbes. “One of our first customers was a man – and, as a brand, we take our responsibility seriously in promoting this message.”

“We want every person with a period to feel seen, heard and represented, and will continue to innovate with products that serve all people with periods.”

Callaly spoke to 2,003 people in the UK as part of its survey. The brand found that over half (55 per cent) of the respondents think the media’s portrayal of periods was “too easy and carefree” or “too glamorised.” The research also suggested that only four in ten people understand that the phrase “people with periods” refers to transgender and non-binary people too, not just cisgender women. Callaly is hoping that its new campaign can help educate and inform people around this topic.

“It’s ok that you might not have heard of the term ‘people who menstruate’ before. But now that you have, please know the power that words can have, and take care to be more inclusive in the future,” Huang says.

Callaly’s inclusive campaign highlights people with a diverse range of genders, ethnicities, and abilities who have been left out of the media’s one-dimensional portrayal of periods in the past. Trans author Vic Jouvert is one of the people featured in the campaign telling his story.

“I was always told that I was a girl. And then that I was to become a woman. So my period was just physical evidence of my biology not matching with who I knew I always was,” he says.

“In this way, my period has always been a reminder of what I am not. It was like my body was telling me I had to suck it up and accept the inevitability of my womanhood and thus the social norms for that body.”

Jouvert explains that the language used in period campaigns has made him feel invisible and reinforced ideas of shame around menstruation. “Representation is everything, and it can change that way you feel about your experience,” he says. “Seeing someone who is masculine who menstruates allows other people to know that their period experiences are valid as well.”

This campaign from Callaly comes as part of a welcome and long-overdue shift in the way that period brands talk about menstruation. Last year, Always announced it would be removing the venus symbol from the wrappers of its products in a bid to be more inclusive of their transgender, non-binary, and intersex customers. 

Meanwhile, last month The Body Shop responded to author J.K. Rowling’s criticism of the phrase “people who menstruate.” The store’s official account tweeted Rowling with an image of a red tote bag from its ‘End Period Shame’ campaign alongside a caption reading, “Hey @JK_Rowling here's something we made earlier, we thought you might like one! We've also popped in a vegan bath bomb and a copy of Trans Rights by @paisleycurrah for you to read in the bath!”

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