Always announced it will remove the Venus symbol from its feminine products packaging following calls by transgender advocates, who said its parent, Procter & Gamble, was alienating trans and gender-nonconforming customers by not acknowledging that they, too, can experience menstruation.
“Could someone from Always tell me why it is imperative to have the female symbol on their sanitary products?” Twitter user Melly Bloom, one of those advocates, tweeted over the summer. “There are non-binary and trans folks who still need to use your products too you know!”
The company announced it would be removing the female signs from its packaging starting in December and aims to have a new design distributed worldwide by February 2020.
“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 are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers,” Proctor & Gamble’s media relations team told NBC News in an email Monday. “We routinely assess our products, packaging and designs, taking into account consumer feedback, to ensure we are meeting the needs of everyone who uses our products. The change to our pad wrapper design is consistent with that practice.”
LGBTQ health experts said the decision is an ostensibly small change that may have significant consequences for trans and nonbinary people.
“This is a great move,” Dr. Jack Turban, a resident physician in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said in an email. “First of all, the symbol is unnecessary. Second of all, it sends a message to transgender and non-binary people who need these products that their identities are embraced and supported by the company,”
Steph deNormand, the Trans Health Program manager at Fenway Health, also championed the design adjustment, stating that seeing “female-coded” imagery can not only exacerbate gender dysphoria for trans and gender-nonconforming people, but can also prevent them from purchasing or accessing sanitary products.
“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,” deNormand said. “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.”
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