When the menstrual hygiene brand Always removed the Venus symbol from its sanitary pad packaging, many appreciated the move for gender inclusivity. The redesign was motivated by the fact that menstruation isn’t just experienced by cisgender women: trans men, and non-binary people can get periods, too.
One mother wants to make sure her son grows up knowing this fact and while she’s at it, educate the internet with a cute photo of her kid. Multi-tasking for the win!
England-based body-positive influencer Milly Bhaskara posted a photo of her son Eli in pyjamas and posing beside toy blocks. The four-year-old held a sign with a very direct message: “Some men have periods too. If I can get it so can you.”
It’s a lesson her son has known for a long time.
“Eli has been told about periods since he saw blood on my pants a couple of years ago ... I didn’t use the language of women have periods because it’s not entirely inclusive,” she explained on Instagram.
While Bhaskara didn’t mention Always and its redesign by name, her post was probably aimed at the backlash the symbol removal received.
“Trans men may have ‘female’ sex organs and still experience periods and some non binary people have periods too therefore removing a female logo off the front of sanitary products helps include us all 😊 isn’t that wholesome and a nice gesture?” she wrote. “Why [in] the name of Lizzo should that affect ANY of us.”
WATCH: Always removes female symbols from their packaging. Story continues below.
Contrary to a rumour so popular it had to be debunked by Snopes, trans activists did not force the brand to change their packaging: a trans teenager named Ben Saunders sent them a complaint, to which the Proctor and Gamble-owned company responded with news about the redesign, Snopes reports.
As Bhaskara demonstrates, it’s easy for parents to teach kids about gender inclusivity. When outdated stereotypes about gender roles and expectations are placed on children, research has shown that can negatively influence their lives as adults.
For cisgender men, 69 per cent of respondents under 35 told a British survey that their gendered upbringing had a “damaging” effect in how they saw women and other men.
Trans identities and gender-non-conforming behaviours are especially important to affirm at a young age. An international study found that children start believing that gender non-conformity is bad as young as 10.
How parents can use gender-inclusive language
The LGBTQ Parenting Network’s guide to speaking mindfully states that “person” is a good gender-neutral go-to term and expands the definition of who can perform or have certain qualities. An example would be saying “pregnant parent” if someone does not identify as a mother or saying “people who menstruate” instead of women.
It can be helpful to explain, as Bhaskara does, why you’re using this language, too. She explained to her son that some cisgender women, trans men, and non-binary people bleed once a month. This way, when children hear gendered language from the world around them, they’ll know those terms aren’t the only ones that can be used.
Other ways to encourage mindful speaking can include taking phrases like “man up” or “like a girl” out of your vocabulary.
And as HuffPost contributor Jennifer Bosse writes, questioning generalizations can help curb unconscious bias from forming. That can look like asking them to think of people they know personally who don’t conform to traditional roles, such as asking if they know any mothers who work.
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