There is a lot of unlearning to be done in the way we talk about reproductive health and period products. These are typically framed as “women’s health” issues, but the fact of the matter is that this topic extends beyond the gender binary. Reproductive health and period products are things all people need access to in some capacity, and it’s crucial to abandon gendered language when talking about the matter.
Period products have been historically marketed towards cisgender women and are listed as “feminine hygiene products” at almost any major grocery or drug store. Not only is this language exclusive, but cis women are obviously not the only people who have periods. Trans men and nonbinary people can menstruate too. Not every trans or nonbinary person experiences gender dysphoria, but having a regular period and purchasing pads and tampons labeled as “feminine products” can trigger dysphoria in those who do struggle with it. Removing gendered language from period products (and literally just calling them what they are) is a small step to take to try and alleviate excess stress from trans and nonbinary individuals. Periods are not just a “women’s issue,” and we need to stop treating them as such.
Gendering period products is also just unnecessary. Periods are not taboo, and we can just call them what they are. They’re not a dirty secret. We shouldn’t water down the way we speak about reproductive health and menstrual products for the comfort of cisgender men and those who cannot fathom the existence of people outside the gender binary. Referring to your stock of tampons as “feminine products” to make your boyfriend Lucas more comfortable only continues to exclude trans and gender non-conforming people.
Trans and non-binary people are also more likely to face discrimination from health care providers, which can discourage them from seeking treatment for menstrual or reproductive care. According to the US Transgender Survey, one in three trans people had at least one poor experience with a healthcare provider. These ranged anywhere from verbal harassment to a full refusal of treatment. If you refuse to treat someone based on their gender identity, you have no place working in healthcare. Inclusive, accessible care saves lives, and we cannot leave trans and nonbinary people out of the fight for reproductive justice.
There are lots of things cis people should be doing to be better allies to trans and non-binary people. Reproductive health is not exclusively “women’s health,” and period products are not something used only by cisgender women. Being a better ally can start with something as simple as utilizing gender-inclusive language. Reproductive health affects everyone, and the fight for adequate access and health care means nothing if it does not include trans and non-binary people.