His­tor­ic­ally, men­stru­ation has been under­stood as a bio­lo­gical func­tion of the female body, affect­ing women and only women. But over the last sev­eral years, as peri­ods have flowed more and more into pub­lic dis­cus­sion, this has begun to shift. Increas­ingly, act­iv­ists, journ­al­ists and brands are speak­ing out about the fact that it’s not only women who men­stru­ate. Trans, non-bin­ary and gender non­con­form­ing people also exper­i­ence peri­ods. Men­stru­ation is not solely exper­i­enced by people who identify as women, but has to include trans peri­ods as well.

In 1990, fem­in­ist scholar Judith But­ler pub­lished her ground­break­ing book Gender Trouble. But­ler the­or­izes that gender is a social con­struct, a per­form­ance that gets count­lessly repeated and reima­gined in dif­fer­ent ways. Accord­ing to But­ler, the way gender is per­formed depends largely on dis­course, cul­ture, his­tory, time and place. Everything we do plays into how we per­form our gender. From the way we dress, how we move and describe ourselves, down to the products we buy. 

Trans peri­ods: Men­stru­ation as a trans man

Tak­ing testoster­one dur­ing the gender trans­ition from woman-man doesn’t neces­sar­ily stop the men­strual cycle. As Cass Bliss, aka The Period Prince, dis­cusses in Sev­en­teen Magazine, “the dys­phoria is real” when men­stru­at­ing while trans, caus­ing dis­tress and con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the body and gender. They say, “after hav­ing been told con­stantly that peri­ods are about woman­hood – by friends, the media, and advert­ise­ments – I was crushed when I star­ted bleed­ing. I felt like I had no choice but to live my life pre­tend­ing to be someone I was not.” In the inter­view for “Men­stru­ation around the world” SJ shares about his exper­i­ence with men­stru­ation as a trans man

Sci­entific research has shown that men­stru­ation pro­vokes deeply neg­at­ive sen­ti­ments for trans and non-bin­ary folks. Gendered bath­rooms and being seen as a men­stru­ator are a main source of stress and anxi­ety. Gen­er­ally, period products tend to have lots of pink or tra­di­tion­ally “girly” designs. In addi­tion to that, they can be found in the “fem­in­ine hygiene sec­tion” at the store. This only makes mat­ters worse for trans menstruators. 

“For far too long, the only period product imagery used in mar­ket­ing was pink, flowery and showed bright-eyed young girls ‘frol­ick­ing.’ Nowadays, many show a vari­ety of shapes, sizes and races. How­ever, rarely do they show those who may not fit the tra­di­tional ‘social norm’ of ‘fem­in­ine,'” says Cathy Chap­man, pres­id­ent of Lune North Amer­ica, via Bustle

Jen Bell pub­lished the piece talk­ing about peri­ods bey­ond gender for the fer­til­ity and period track­ing app Clue. In her art­icle, she dis­cusses the import­ance of the words we use to describe the men­strual exper­i­ence. Lan­guage car­ries power, and there­fore exchan­ging “fem­in­ine hygiene products” with “men­strual care products” and “women” with “men­stru­at­ors” or “people with peri­ods” goes a long way to include those who do not identify as women in the dis­cus­sion about men­stru­ation

Efforts to make peri­ods more inclus­ive for trans menstruators 

To that end, in an effort to be more accom­mod­at­ing to all genders who men­stru­ate, the brand Always decided to remove the Venus sym­bol from their period product pack­aging in Octo­ber 2019. This was after receiv­ing tweets such as this one from trans act­iv­ist Melly Bloom: “Could someone from Always tell me why it is imper­at­ive to have the female sym­bol on their san­it­ary products? There are non-bin­ary and trans folks who still need to use your products too you know!” per NBC News

Over 15,500 people have signed a change.org peti­tion called #RenameDont­Shame. They are ask­ing super­mar­kets in the U.S. and U.K. to use gender-inclus­ive lan­guage to mar­ket their period products. The peti­tion, launched by Natra­care, states that using the term “fem­in­ine hygiene” assumes all people with peri­ods are women and you need to men­stru­ate to be fem­in­ine. This excludes both other genders who men­stru­ate as well as trans women and cis women who don’t have periods. 

While con­duct­ing research for my master’s thesis on the chan­ging cul­ture sur­round­ing men­stru­ation, I inter­viewed women liv­ing in Ber­lin from dif­fer­ent age groups and cul­tural back­grounds on their obser­va­tions and per­cep­tions of this shift. One of my par­ti­cipants was a mom with a trans­gender teen­age son. She told me that he hates to shop for men­strual products because of all the “girly col­ors” and sig­nals that it’s just for women – so much that he won’t do it anymore. 

Gender neut­ral approach 

For this reason, it’s import­ant to also have brands and products avail­able with a more gender-neut­ral approach to brand­ing and pack­aging. Not only for trans men­stru­at­ors, but for all people with peri­ods who don’t identify with the way fem­in­in­ity is tra­di­tion­ally depic­ted on period products. 

In this video, You­Tuber Kel Lauren redesigns a Play­tex Sport tam­pon pack­age. They do this to ques­tion and chal­lenge the overtly fem­in­ine style that period products tend to have, pro­pos­ing a more play­ful, mod­ern and neut­ral version. 

YouTube video

Brands for trans people with periods

In recent years, there has been a crim­son wave of star­tups offer­ing period products in dif­fer­ent designs, col­ors and forms. Some of them have a gender-inclus­ive, or gender affirm­ing, approach to the way they brand and mar­ket men­strual care. Here are a couple cherry-picked com­pan­ies to look out for if you’re search­ing for more neut­ral products that include trans periods. 

1. Thinx: period panties

The clas­sic example that comes to mind is Thinx, you’ve prob­ably heard of them already. Thinx was one of the first movers in the period under­wear mar­ket. They were also the first brand to include a trans man in an ad cam­paign for men­strual products back in 2016.  Check out the Boy­short design of their period undies below:

On their product page for these shorts, they include a quote: 

“As a trans per­son, it’s so affirm­ing to know I can keep wear­ing a mas­cu­line style of under­wear when going through some­thing so dif­fi­cult.” Leo from New­castle, 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 Ein­horn also emphas­izes gender-inclus­iv­ity in their products. With a range of fun and trendy designs on their tam­pons, pads, and cups to choose from, shop­ping for period products can become actu­ally enjoy­able. Check out their vari­ety of men­strual products below: 

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

Photo Cred­its: Ein­horn

Shop Ein­horn products on their web­site, they ship Europe-wide, or if you’re in Ger­many, you’ll find them at DM.

3. DAME.: innov­at­ing in men­strual care

DAME. has cre­ated the world’s first reusable tam­pon applic­ator. They’re work­ing to “bring peri­ods into the 21st cen­tury for all people whatever their gender.” They boast an award-win­ning, self-san­it­iz­ing design that keeps the applic­ator clean with mul­tiple uses, and a glossy matt fin­ish in forest green for max­imum com­fort upon inser­tion. Addi­tion­ally, they offer organic tam­pons and reusable pads. 

Shop DAME. online – they ship worldwide. 

4. Aunt Flow: free tampons!

Aunt Flow is a star­tup from Ohio, U.S. that part­ners with com­pan­ies and schools in order for men­strual products to be offered for free in bath­rooms. In other words, their think­ing goes, “Toi­let paper is offered for free, why aren’t tam­pons?” In mar­ket­ing lan­guage, they tar­get all “people with vagi­nas” and “men­stru­at­ors” to include trans periods. 

5. L.: For your nat­ural cycle

L. offers per­sonal care products made with organic mater­i­als, without the organic price. Their tam­pons come in a clear round con­tainer with black let­ter­ing and imagery of nature. They recently did a col­lab­or­a­tion on social media with The Phluid Pro­ject where they cre­ated a guide to pro­nouns when talk­ing about peri­ods, and say, “We believe that it’s vital to cel­eb­rate ALL people who have peri­ods, regard­less of gender iden­tity.” They have a solid­ar­ity 1:1 model where for every L. product pur­chased, one is made avail­able to someone in need. In addi­tion to that, they have partnered with The Pad Pro­ject to increase access to pads in devel­op­ing nations and in home­less shel­ters across the U.S. Here’s 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 Scand­inavia is a lead­ing brand in the men­strual cup mar­ket. Their cups are made from 100% med­ical grade sil­ic­one, and each cup pur­chase comes with its own pouch made from recycled plastic bottles. They have cre­ated cups in a vari­ety of col­ors and use inclus­ive lan­guage to dis­rupt gender ste­reo­types and change the con­ver­sa­tions we’re hav­ing about peri­ods. Com­mit­ted to sus­tain­ab­il­ity, edu­ca­tion and inclus­iv­ity, Lun­ette also has a vari­ety of resources on their web­site to address all of your unanswered ques­tions about men­strual cups.

You can shop Lun­ette online, they ship worldwide. 

7. Period Aisle: Products for every body

Period Aisle (pre­vi­ously Lunapads) has been around since 1999 and are true pion­eers in the world of nat­ural, eco-friendly men­strual care and gender-inclus­ive mar­ket­ing. They sell period under­wear with designs ran­ging from boxer briefs to thongs, reusable cloth pads, cups and even a period stain remover. On their Ins­tagram, they have a series of posts defin­ing import­ant terms like “gender affirm­ing”, “cis­norm­at­ive”, “non-bin­ary” and more. Addi­tion­ally, they fre­quently show trans mem­bers of their com­munity with their products:
You can shop Period Aisle on their web­site, they ship globally. 

Want to learn more about trans periods?

Are you look­ing for resources or sup­port on this topic? Check out these 5 tips from one trans men­stru­ator to another and this guide to trans men­stru­ation. Cer­tainly look out for these brands for your period care needs. 

Kayla Davidge
Kayla 
Freel­ance Writer | Web­site | + posts

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