Includ¬≠ing the Men in Men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion: Trans Peri¬≠ods & Branding

by Kayla
Transperiode, Transmenstruation,Transmann, Periodenprodukte, Menstruationsprodukte, Menstruation, Periode, geschlechterinklusive Menstruationsprodukte, geschlechterinklusive Periodenprodukte, Menstruationstasse, Einhorn, Alternative Periodenprodukte, transperiod, transmenstruation,transman, period products, menstrual products, menstruation, period, gender inclusive menstrual products, gender inclusive period products, menstrual cup, unicorn, alternative period products, Kayla, Vulvani

His¬≠tor¬≠i¬≠cally, men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion has been under¬≠stood as a bio¬≠log¬≠i¬≠cal func¬≠tion of the female body, affect¬≠ing women and only women. But over the last sev¬≠eral years, as peri¬≠ods have flowed more and more into pub¬≠lic dis¬≠cus¬≠sion, this has begun to shift. Increas¬≠ingly, activists, jour¬≠nal¬≠ists and brands are speak¬≠ing out about the fact that it‚Äôs not only women who men¬≠stru¬≠ate. Trans, non-binary and gen¬≠der non¬≠con¬≠form¬≠ing peo¬≠ple also expe¬≠ri¬≠ence peri¬≠ods. Men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion is not solely expe¬≠ri¬≠enced by peo¬≠ple who iden¬≠tify as women, but has to include trans peri¬≠ods as well.

In 1990, fem¬≠i¬≠nist scholar Judith But¬≠ler pub¬≠lished her ground¬≠break¬≠ing book Gen¬≠der Trou¬≠ble. But¬≠ler the¬≠o¬≠rizes that gen¬≠der is a social con¬≠struct, a per¬≠for¬≠mance that gets count¬≠lessly repeated and reimag¬≠ined in dif¬≠fer¬≠ent ways. Accord¬≠ing to But¬≠ler, the way gen¬≠der is per¬≠formed depends largely on dis¬≠course, cul¬≠ture, his¬≠tory, time and place. Every¬≠thing we do plays into how we per¬≠form our gen¬≠der. From the way we dress, how we move and describe our¬≠selves, down to the prod¬≠ucts we buy. 

Trans peri¬≠ods: Men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion as a trans man

Tak¬≠ing testos¬≠terone dur¬≠ing the gen¬≠der tran¬≠si¬≠tion from woman-man doesn‚Äôt nec¬≠es¬≠sar¬≠ily stop the men¬≠strual cycle. As Cass Bliss, aka The Period Prince, dis¬≠cusses in Sev¬≠en¬≠teen Mag¬≠a¬≠zine, ‚Äúthe dys¬≠pho¬≠ria is real‚ÄĚ when men¬≠stru¬≠at¬≠ing while trans, caus¬≠ing dis¬≠tress and con¬≠fu¬≠sion sur¬≠round¬≠ing the body and gen¬≠der. They say, ‚Äúafter hav¬≠ing been told con¬≠stantly that peri¬≠ods are about wom¬≠an¬≠hood ‚Äď by friends, the media, and adver¬≠tise¬≠ments ‚Äď I was crushed when I started bleed¬≠ing. I felt like I had no choice but to live my life pre¬≠tend¬≠ing to be some¬≠one I was not.‚ÄĚ In the inter¬≠view for ‚ÄúMen¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion around the world‚ÄĚ SJ shares about his expe¬≠ri¬≠ence with men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion as a trans man

Sci¬≠en¬≠tific research has shown that men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion pro¬≠vokes deeply neg¬≠a¬≠tive sen¬≠ti¬≠ments for trans and non-binary folks. Gen¬≠dered bath¬≠rooms and being seen as a men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tor are a main source of stress and anx¬≠i¬≠ety. Gen¬≠er¬≠ally, period prod¬≠ucts tend to have lots of pink or tra¬≠di¬≠tion¬≠ally ‚Äúgirly‚ÄĚ designs. In addi¬≠tion to that, they can be found in the ‚Äúfem¬≠i¬≠nine hygiene sec¬≠tion‚ÄĚ at the store. This only makes mat¬≠ters worse for trans menstruators. 

‚ÄúFor far too long, the only period prod¬≠uct imagery used in mar¬≠ket¬≠ing was pink, flow¬≠ery and showed bright-eyed young girls ‚Äėfrol¬≠ick¬≠ing.‚Äô Nowa¬≠days, many show a vari¬≠ety of shapes, sizes and races. How¬≠ever, rarely do they show those who may not fit the tra¬≠di¬≠tional ‚Äėsocial norm‚Äô of ‚Äėfem¬≠i¬≠nine,'‚ÄĚ says Cathy Chap¬≠man, pres¬≠i¬≠dent of Lune North Amer¬≠ica, via Bus¬≠tle

Jen Bell pub¬≠lished the piece talk¬≠ing about peri¬≠ods beyond gen¬≠der for the fer¬≠til¬≠ity and period track¬≠ing app Clue. In her arti¬≠cle, she dis¬≠cusses the impor¬≠tance of the words we use to describe the men¬≠strual expe¬≠ri¬≠ence. Lan¬≠guage car¬≠ries power, and there¬≠fore exchang¬≠ing ‚Äúfem¬≠i¬≠nine hygiene prod¬≠ucts‚ÄĚ with ‚Äúmen¬≠strual care prod¬≠ucts‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúwomen‚ÄĚ with ‚Äúmen¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tors‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúpeo¬≠ple with peri¬≠ods‚ÄĚ goes a long way to include those who do not iden¬≠tify as women in the dis¬≠cus¬≠sion about men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion

Efforts to make peri¬≠ods more inclu¬≠sive for trans menstruators 

To that end, in an effort to be more accom¬≠mo¬≠dat¬≠ing to all gen¬≠ders who men¬≠stru¬≠ate, the brand Always decided to remove the Venus sym¬≠bol from their period prod¬≠uct pack¬≠ag¬≠ing in Octo¬≠ber 2019. This was after receiv¬≠ing tweets such as this one from trans activist Melly Bloom: ‚ÄúCould some¬≠one from Always tell me why it is imper¬≠a¬≠tive to have the female sym¬≠bol on their san¬≠i¬≠tary prod¬≠ucts? There are non-binary and trans folks who still need to use your prod¬≠ucts too you know!‚ÄĚ per NBC News

Over 15,500 peo¬≠ple have signed a change.org peti¬≠tion called #Rename¬≠DontShame. They are ask¬≠ing super¬≠mar¬≠kets in the U.S. and U.K. to use gen¬≠der-inclu¬≠sive lan¬≠guage to mar¬≠ket their period prod¬≠ucts. The peti¬≠tion, launched by Natracare, states that using the term ‚Äúfem¬≠i¬≠nine hygiene‚ÄĚ assumes all peo¬≠ple with peri¬≠ods are women and you need to men¬≠stru¬≠ate to be fem¬≠i¬≠nine. This excludes both other gen¬≠ders who men¬≠stru¬≠ate as well as trans women and cis women who don‚Äôt have periods. 

While con¬≠duct¬≠ing research for my master‚Äôs the¬≠sis on the chang¬≠ing cul¬≠ture sur¬≠round¬≠ing men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion, I inter¬≠viewed women liv¬≠ing in Berlin from dif¬≠fer¬≠ent age groups and cul¬≠tural back¬≠grounds on their obser¬≠va¬≠tions and per¬≠cep¬≠tions of this shift. One of my par¬≠tic¬≠i¬≠pants was a mom with a trans¬≠gen¬≠der teenage son. She told me that he hates to shop for men¬≠strual prod¬≠ucts because of all the ‚Äúgirly col¬≠ors‚ÄĚ and sig¬≠nals that it‚Äôs just for women ‚Äď so much that he won‚Äôt do it anymore. 

Gen¬≠der neu¬≠tral approach 

For this rea¬≠son, it‚Äôs impor¬≠tant to also have brands and prod¬≠ucts avail¬≠able with a more gen¬≠der-neu¬≠tral approach to brand¬≠ing and pack¬≠ag¬≠ing. Not only for trans men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tors, but for all peo¬≠ple with peri¬≠ods who don‚Äôt iden¬≠tify with the way fem¬≠i¬≠nin¬≠ity is tra¬≠di¬≠tion¬≠ally depicted on period products. 

In this video, YouTu¬≠ber Kel Lau¬≠ren redesigns a Play¬≠tex Sport tam¬≠pon pack¬≠age. They do this to ques¬≠tion and chal¬≠lenge the overtly fem¬≠i¬≠nine style that period prod¬≠ucts tend to have, propos¬≠ing a more play¬≠ful, mod¬≠ern and neu¬≠tral version. 

YouTube video

Brands for trans peo­ple with periods

In recent years, there has been a crim¬≠son wave of star¬≠tups offer¬≠ing period prod¬≠ucts in dif¬≠fer¬≠ent designs, col¬≠ors and forms. Some of them have a gen¬≠der-inclu¬≠sive, or gen¬≠der affirm¬≠ing, approach to the way they brand and mar¬≠ket men¬≠strual care. Here are a cou¬≠ple cherry-picked com¬≠pa¬≠nies to look out for if you‚Äôre search¬≠ing for more neu¬≠tral prod¬≠ucts that include trans periods. 

1. Thinx: period panties

The clas¬≠sic exam¬≠ple that comes to mind is Thinx, you‚Äôve prob¬≠a¬≠bly heard of them already. Thinx was one of the first movers in the period under¬≠wear mar¬≠ket. They were also the first brand to include a trans man in an ad cam¬≠paign for men¬≠strual prod¬≠ucts back in 2016.  Check out the Boyshort design of their period undies below:

On their prod¬≠uct page for these shorts, they include a quote: 

‚ÄúAs a trans per¬≠son, it‚Äôs so affirm¬≠ing to know I can keep wear¬≠ing a mas¬≠cu¬≠line style of under¬≠wear when going through some¬≠thing so dif¬≠fi¬≠cult.‚ÄĚ Leo from New¬≠cas¬≠tle, UK. 

You can shop Thinx online, they deliver glob­ally. In addi­tion, if you’re inter­ested in learn­ing more about how it works, check out our guide to period under­wear

2. Ein­horn: fun period products

Berlin-based startup Ein¬≠horn also empha¬≠sizes gen¬≠der-inclu¬≠siv¬≠ity in their prod¬≠ucts. With a range of fun and trendy designs on their tam¬≠pons, pads, and cups to choose from, shop¬≠ping for period prod¬≠ucts can become actu¬≠ally enjoy¬≠able. Check out their vari¬≠ety of men¬≠strual prod¬≠ucts below: 

Vulvani, Transperiode, Transmenstruation,Transmann, Periodenprodukte, Menstruationsprodukte, Menstruation, Periode, geschlechterinklusive Menstruationsprodukte, geschlechterinklusive Periodenprodukte, Menstruationstasse, Einhorn, Alternative Periodenprodukte

Photo Cred­its: Ein­horn

Shop Ein¬≠horn prod¬≠ucts on their web¬≠site, they ship Europe-wide, or if you‚Äôre in Ger¬≠many, you‚Äôll find them at DM.

3. DAME.: inno­vat­ing in men­strual care

DAME. has cre¬≠ated the world‚Äôs first reusable tam¬≠pon appli¬≠ca¬≠tor. They‚Äôre work¬≠ing to ‚Äúbring peri¬≠ods into the 21st cen¬≠tury for all peo¬≠ple what¬≠ever their gen¬≠der.‚ÄĚ They boast an award-win¬≠ning, self-san¬≠i¬≠tiz¬≠ing design that keeps the appli¬≠ca¬≠tor clean with mul¬≠ti¬≠ple uses, and a glossy matt fin¬≠ish in for¬≠est green for max¬≠i¬≠mum com¬≠fort upon inser¬≠tion. Addi¬≠tion¬≠ally, they offer organic tam¬≠pons and reusable pads. 

Shop DAME. online ‚Äď they ship worldwide. 

4. Aunt Flow: free tampons!

Aunt Flow is a startup from Ohio, U.S. that part¬≠ners with com¬≠pa¬≠nies and schools in order for men¬≠strual prod¬≠ucts to be offered for free in bath¬≠rooms. In other words, their think¬≠ing goes, ‚ÄúToi¬≠let paper is offered for free, why aren‚Äôt tam¬≠pons?‚ÄĚ In mar¬≠ket¬≠ing lan¬≠guage, they tar¬≠get all ‚Äúpeo¬≠ple with vagi¬≠nas‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúmen¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tors‚ÄĚ to include trans periods. 

5. L.: For your nat¬≠ural cycle

L. offers per¬≠sonal care prod¬≠ucts made with organic mate¬≠ri¬≠als, with¬≠out the organic price. Their tam¬≠pons come in a clear round con¬≠tainer with black let¬≠ter¬≠ing and imagery of nature. They recently did a col¬≠lab¬≠o¬≠ra¬≠tion on social media with The Phluid Project where they cre¬≠ated a guide to pro¬≠nouns when talk¬≠ing about peri¬≠ods, and say, ‚ÄúWe believe that it‚Äôs vital to cel¬≠e¬≠brate ALL peo¬≠ple who have peri¬≠ods, regard¬≠less of gen¬≠der iden¬≠tity.‚ÄĚ They have a sol¬≠i¬≠dar¬≠ity 1:1 model where for every L. prod¬≠uct pur¬≠chased, one is made avail¬≠able to some¬≠one in need. In addi¬≠tion to that, they have part¬≠nered with The Pad Project to increase access to pads in devel¬≠op¬≠ing nations and in home¬≠less shel¬≠ters across the U.S. Here‚Äôs one of their packages:

L. is avail­able at U.S. retail­ers like Tar­get, CVS, Wal­greens and Walmart.

6. Lunette: Men­strual cups for everyone

Lunette from Scan¬≠di¬≠navia is a lead¬≠ing brand in the men¬≠strual cup mar¬≠ket. Their cups are made from 100% med¬≠ical grade sil¬≠i¬≠cone, and each cup pur¬≠chase comes with its own pouch made from recy¬≠cled plas¬≠tic bot¬≠tles. They have cre¬≠ated cups in a vari¬≠ety of col¬≠ors and use inclu¬≠sive lan¬≠guage to dis¬≠rupt gen¬≠der stereo¬≠types and change the con¬≠ver¬≠sa¬≠tions we‚Äôre hav¬≠ing about peri¬≠ods. Com¬≠mit¬≠ted to sus¬≠tain¬≠abil¬≠ity, edu¬≠ca¬≠tion and inclu¬≠siv¬≠ity, Lunette also has a vari¬≠ety of resources on their web¬≠site to address all of your unan¬≠swered ques¬≠tions about men¬≠strual cups.

You can shop Lunette online, they ship worldwide. 

7. Period Aisle: Prod¬≠ucts for every body

Period Aisle (pre¬≠vi¬≠ously Luna¬≠pads) has been around since 1999 and are true pio¬≠neers in the world of nat¬≠ural, eco-friendly men¬≠strual care and gen¬≠der-inclu¬≠sive mar¬≠ket¬≠ing. They sell period under¬≠wear with designs rang¬≠ing from boxer briefs to thongs, reusable cloth pads, cups and even a period stain remover. On their Insta¬≠gram, they have a series of posts defin¬≠ing impor¬≠tant terms like ‚Äúgen¬≠der affirm¬≠ing‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúcis¬≠nor¬≠ma¬≠tive‚ÄĚ, ‚Äúnon-binary‚ÄĚ and more. Addi¬≠tion¬≠ally, they fre¬≠quently show trans mem¬≠bers of their com¬≠mu¬≠nity with their products:
You can shop Period Aisle on their web¬≠site, they ship globally. 

Want to learn more about trans periods?

Are you look¬≠ing for resources or sup¬≠port on this topic? Check out these 5 tips from one trans men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tor to another and this guide to trans men¬≠stru¬≠a¬≠tion. Cer¬≠tainly look out for these brands for your period care needs. 

Published at 9. April 2021
Kayla is a freelance writer and has been creating health-related content for 3 years. She found her passion for period topics while writing her master’s thesis on the changing culture around menstruation. Originally from California, she has been living in various European cities since 2014, and now works remotely as a digital nomad. Follow her travels on Instagram, check out her other work on her Website, or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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