The world of what we’ve traditionally known as “feminine products” is getting more gender-neutral. In an effort to be more inclusive of trans and non-binary consumers, Always is removing the gendered “venus” symbol from its products, CNN reports.
“For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so,” Procter & Gamble said Tuesday in a statement obtained by CNN. “We’re also committed to diversity & inclusion and are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers.”
It was apparently consumer concern that prompted the move, as trans activists and allies urged the brand to consider the fact that not all women menstruate, and the gender dysphoria often experienced by those who menstruate but don’t identify as women.
“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,” Steph deNormand, the Trans Health Program manager at Fenway Health, explained to NBC Out. “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.”
Procter & Gamble’s statement on the packaging change, which should roll out in December, was brief. But by the company’s account, the design adjustment is just another step in cultivating customer satisfaction.
“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.”
Frankly, we wonder if anyone would’ve missed the symbol or asked about it had P&G not announced the change. (Seriously, where is it? Does it affect product performance?) But Dr. Jack Turban, a resident physician in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, sees a far more significant impact.
“This is a great move,” he told NBC. “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.
“The greatest predictor of good mental health among transgender and nonbinary people is feeling that they are accepted,” Turban later added. “The company is showing that it accepts, respects, and cares about this population, which is a powerful statement for a community that is so often marginalized and rejected.”
The brand has yet to issue any further statement, but sadly (if predictably), there was social media backlash to the mere suggestion that trans and nonbinary people be considered in a superficial adjustment, often accompanied by the hashtag #boycottAlways.
Oh well, maybe it’s time for Always’ transphobic fans to try flying without the brand’s legendary wings.