In order to become a more gender inclusive brand, Always just vowed to remove the Venus symbol, often used to represent “female,” from their menstrual product packaging. The company’s hope is that transgender and non-binary customers will feel more comfortable using Always period products.
Earlier this year, transgender activists and allies made Always aware via Twitter that the Venus symbol on their packaging may cause dysphoria among transgender males and/or those who are gender nonconforming or do not identify as women, yet still get a monthly period. In June 2019, Ben Saunders, the Stonewall Young Campaigner of the Year, wrote a letter to Always’ parent company, Procter & Gamble, via email and asked the company to officially remove the symbol from their packaging.
“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,” Steph deNormand, the Trans Health Program manager at Fenway Health, told NBC News. “So, using less coded products can make a huge difference.”
DeNormand explained that the simple act of removing the Venus symbol from the Always packaging can “broaden out the experiences and open up spaces for those who need the products.”
“Your heartfelt words are appreciated, and we're sharing this with our Always team,” the brand responded to this October 13th tweet addressing dysphoria. “Thank you for taking a moment to share your preferences!”
Earlier this week, Always officially committed to removing the symbol from their period-product packaging.
"For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so," Always’ parent company, Procter & Gamble, said in an October 22nd statement, per CNN. "We're also committed to diversity & inclusion and are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers."
Although Procter & Gamble has yet to reveal when exactly Always’ packaging will undergo redesign, it’s aiming to remove the Venus sign from products by December 2019, and issue a totally new design by February 2020, as NBC News reports.
After seeing consumer upset on Twitter and being contacted by Saunders, a Procter & Gamble representative confirmed to both Saunders and Snopes that the company will go forth with more inclusive packaging in the new year.
“We are glad to inform you that as of December we will use a new wrapper design without the feminine symbol,” the spokesperson wrote in an October 16th email to Saunders. “We are absolutely grateful for having people like you voicing their opinions.”
"We routinely assess our products, packaging, & designs, taking into account consumer feedback, to ensure we are meeting the needs of everyone who uses our products," the company stated in their press release.
And despite what some headlines may read, the “transgender lobbyists” did not force Procter & Gamble to remove the symbol. The company did so on their own accord, adding its name to a growing roster of companies including Lyft, Mastercard, and Tinder that have vowed to use more gender inclusive signage and language, as CNN reports.
This is a massive step forward for the transgender and non-binary community. When a large conglomerate like Procter & Gamble recognizes their identities and their concerns, it validates the importance of bettering transgender and non-binary healthcare, as well as menstrual healthcare in general. Both trans and menstrual health are often ignored and stigmatized in our society, so it’s more than refreshing to see a huge company acknowledge and address this head on—and in a positive and welcoming way. The smallest of changes can show an entire community that they’re finally being heard and respected.