I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.
The company Always, owned by mega-company Procter and Gamble, has decided to ditch what has commonly been interpreted as a feminine symbol in order to be more inclusive. Since this move was announced, there have been people on social media speaking out in support of this move and also questioning the wisdom—or even the necessity—behind doing this.
As someone who works with teenagers (and some adults) who identify somewhere along the LGBTQ+ spectrum, I can tell you that this is a move that could potentially make a huge difference to those individuals who identify as transgender or as non-binary.
Why Does It Matter?
Imagine, if you will, a person who identifies as transgender (female to male) but who has not come out to their family as yet. Imagine that this person was born female. Also imagine that this person has not, due to reasons such as not having come out to their family (and therefore being unable to make their own medical appointment if they are under 16) or even basic expense, started hormone blockers. While I do not fall into that category, I'm certain there are several hundreds of individuals that do across North America, if not the world.
Now imagine that once a month, your own biology rears its ugly head. Imagine that in spite of your gender identity not matching the biology you were born with, you have to contend with your menstrual cycle. In order to be hygienic, you have to purchase products that are clearly identified with a range of symbols identified with the female gender and whose use is more associated with a gender you don't identify with. You are unseen for who you truly are by your family and friends, due to various reasons, and now you have to contend with the monthly change your body goes through even though you do not identify as female.
From a purely practical standpoint, one could use logic and argue that this theoretical person I've been discussing should understand that if they are not yet on hormone blockers, of course they are going to have their period and have to take the requisite steps to stay clean. However, humans have never been known for operating as purely logical beings, and when your biology continues to slap you across the face once a month in spite of your own gender identity, that would be insulting, to say the least—even more so because for the moment, at least, it's something that's completely out of your control. You are a closeted trans male, and yet, you have to still contend with having your period. I could imagine nothing more horrifying.
By taking this relatively simple step and rebranding its packaging, Always is telling its trans and non-binary clients, "We see you."
Always' Change Shows Compassion
Companies rebrand all the time. Look at Coca-Cola; if you look at the bottles when they first came out and compare them to the bottles now, they're very different in many respects. This move by Always has the added bonus of inclusivity in a world that hasn't always been so inclusive.
Not only do trans and non-binary individuals face staggering rates of discrimination, but violence against this sector of the population has also been shockingly high. According to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey—the largest survey examining the experience of transgender individuals in the United States, where 27,715 individuals were surveyed—violence can range from 9 percent of those surveyed experiencing violence at the hands of a family member they were out to, to the 24 percent perceived as trans while in school who were physically attacked, to nearly half of those surveyed experiencing sexual assault in their lifetime.
By taking such a small, simple step in rebranding, Always is telling people who identify as trans or non-binary that they are seen. While it may not do much to stop the pervasive violence and discrimination that this sector of the population experiences, it is a small first step on the road to encouraging greater inclusivity for all, and for those who are feeling invisible to their family because they cannot be safely out to them, it's an acknowledgment that at the very least, the company wants to support them.
Does it solve the world's problems? No. Is it the biggest problem in the world that there is? No. But when you are struggling to feel accepted for who you are, this could be one first step. It's not much, but it's a beginning.