Public restrooms are always a little awkward for everybody. Nobody enjoys doing their business in a bathroom stall, especially if you’re opening a pad or tampon wrapper in the deafening silence of a public washroom. And for trans and non-binary individuals, that experience is more than just uncomfortable: it can be a safety issue.
Pride month may be over, but we believe in supporting and including the LGBTQ+ community all year long. And around here, we’re committed to breaking the stigma around menstruation 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which is why we want to bring more awareness to the challenges faced by other members of our community that may be overlooked. By being more inclusive with our language and the way we talk about people with periods, we can create work and school environments that are more comfortable for everyone.
Which is why we had to ask: did you know that some men get periods too?
One community of menstruators who can often feel excluded are trans, intersex, and non-binary individuals. Not sure exactly what those words mean? Let’s go over some terms.
A trans man is “a person whose sex assigned at birth was female but whose gender identity is male.”
Along with intersex and non-binary individuals, who may not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth or any gender identity at all, getting a period may invoke feelings of gender dysphoria, which is a term to describe “the distress, unhappiness, and anxiety that transgender people may feel about the mismatch between their bodies and their gender identity.”
In the case of Cass Bliss, a nonbinary trans activist, the dysphoria associated with getting their period, and having to walk down the “feminine hygiene” aisle and choose from a selection of pink, flowery menstrual products is stressful enough.
But using the washroom is a whole other story. In the beginning, they would use women’s bathrooms because it was easier to access a private stall with a disposal bin. But as they began to transition towards a more masculine appearance, they found themselves “ushered” away from women’s washrooms and forced to use men’s washrooms, which don’t necessarily offer the same level of discretion—or safety.
As Cass writes in an op-ed for HuffPost, “using the men’s restroom means that I have to pray that I’m not already leaking when I walk in there and figure out the best ways to keep myself safe while discreetly tending to my period.”
We still have a long way to go when it comes to making washrooms more inclusive and accessible for everyone. But while we’re fighting the good fight, what can we do to also make periods a safer and more inclusive experience for everyone who gets them?
Here are a few ideas:
- Use inclusive language
Let’s remember that people who get periods are not just women. By shifting from “ladies” and “girls” when we talk about our periods to using terms like “people with periods” and “menstruators”, more people will feel like they are part of the conversation.
- Support businesses with all-gender washrooms
If you’re dining or shopping at a business that provides all-gender washrooms, let them know you appreciate it! And if a company doesn’t provide them, talk to the owners or managers about why gender-inclusive washrooms are important.
- Support the need for period products in all washrooms
The Canadian government is pushing for period products to be made available in the women’s washrooms for federal workers, but what about making them available in all washrooms? Plus, poverty among trans folks is a serious issue, and making period products free and accessible in all restrooms can be a serious game-changer for their health and safety.
- Make period apps and products more inclusive
What’s with period products being so cheesy? Pads and tampons always seemed to be designed with lots of flowers … and so. Much. Pink. By purchasing products that are more muted or inclusive in design, we can send a message to menstrual product companies that not everyone who menstruates wants to carry home a bright pink box of tampons.
- Talk to your friends and family
Remember, if a member of your family or friend circle makes a comment that doesn’t sound quite right, talk to them about it. Gently correct them with the right terms to use and remind them about the challenges faced by trans and nonbinary individuals, so we can make a more inclusive environment for everyone.
What are we missing? Let us know what else we can do to make our products more inclusive for everyone who may use them!