Dear Transgender Community,
Sorry for being narrow-minded and for discriminating against you. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, here is the story:
A while ago we did a survey about how satisfied you were with our menstrual cup. We are constantly interested in feedback from you on how and where we can improve. We were really excited to receive some new insights and oh, how we did.
We love our Ruby Community, especially because it speaks to everyone, or so we thought. We know a lot of men who are interested in our work, being badass ambassadors for menstrual cups and supporting us big time.
But since the topic of this survey focused on using Ruby Cup, we thought we’d do them a favour by taking them right to the end of the survey the moment they ticked off that they identify as “male”.
Yes, we know. How could we be so narrow-minded (#facepalm.) We now realize that we were thereby excluding a whole bunch of people, who’s opinion is just as valuable to us as any other.
An overdue lecture on transgender periods
Thankfully, there was Myriam, who pointed us in the right direction and wrote us an e-mail. It was polite, but made it crystal clear that our survey was discriminating towards transgender people:
When I have to choose between male and female, I identify more as male than as female even though I was assigned female at birth. Choosing the option “male” directly ended the survey. This is very offensive toward anyone, who does not identify as cis male or cis female. Some men do menstruate. Ending the survey if someone answered “male” on the first question gives out the impression that your company is not interested in the opinion of any person that is transgender and using your product. I found this very offensive as I had to choose the “female” option in order to share my opinion on the Ruby Cup.”
This is so true! How could we not have noticed this?
Not all women have periods, not all who have periods are women.
Myriam continued: “It’s that not all women have periods and not all people who have a period are women. Some men have periods and some people who have a period are neither a woman nor a man.”
“The automatic association between menstruation and women that almost everybody makes seems impossible to break. Whenever an ad comes up for a menstrual product, it shows young women.”
But the biggest problem, apart from only women representing people who need menstrual products, is that it’s not just a woman per se, but mostly a woman in the most feminine surrounding and stereotypical behaviour. It was only last month that Bodyform published an ad breaking with this paradigm. Can you believe it? In 2016 a period ad that shows actual blood was revolutionary!
The only other brand breaking with the conventional way advertising represents periods is THINX – who (we raise our cups to you, queens), have also featured transgender representation in an eye-opening portrait:
The damage of underrepresenting transgender periods
“Transgender representation in the media is limited but increasing every year”, Myriam told us. “But the inclusion of transgender people when menstruation is discussed in the media is still almost non-existent.”
“This absence is damaging. Having a period, for someone who does not identify as a woman, can be a very stressful time emotionally and it can induce high levels of anxiety. The media’s representation of women as the only people, who have periods can cause further anxiety. It is time for the media and companies to become more inclusive of the fact that women are not the only ones who menstruate.”
So we would like to apologize and take a pledge:
- We promise to include a third option in our surveys and tie the characteristic of “menstruating/not menstruating” to the relevance of our survey, not the sex.
- We promise to feature, include and support the transgender community in the discussion around menstruation wherever and whenever we can.
- We promise to use gender-neutral language whenever talking about Ruby Cup and menstruation to the best of our knowledge and capabilities – please let us know if there is any way we can improve.
And above of all, we want to say Thank You. Thank you for educating us and raising awareness. This was the best feedback imaginable. Thank you for opening our eyes and for speaking up for your community, Myriam.
PS: Here is a great flow chart explaining how to be inclusive in your language when talking about periods.