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 a female phe­no­me­non, 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 female-male 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 female 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 non-female people 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. 

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