Menstrual pad brand Always will no longer use the Venus symbol on its packaging, in a move that makes the products more inclusive of trans and non-binary customers. The symbol — a circle sitting on top of a cross — has traditionally been used to represent women. Always' packaging change comes in response to customers urging the brand to make their period products more welcoming to people who don't identify as women, but still menstruate.
According to CNN, Always’ parent company Proctor & Gamble announced the decision earlier today. "For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so. We're also committed to diversity & inclusion and are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers,” the company said in a statement. "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.”
Since Trans Visibility Day in March 2019, trans and non-binary customers and allies have been calling for the brand to change their design. “Could someone from Always tell me why it is imperative to have the female symbol on their sanitary products?” Twitter user Melly Bloom tweeted over the summer, via NBC News. “There are non-binary and trans folks who still need to use your products too you know!”
Activists are applauding the move. Steph deNormand, the Trans Health Program manager at Fenway Health, told NBC News, “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. 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.”
The move has unfortunately sparked a transphobic backlash, particularly in the UK, where the Daily Mail published an article about the packaging change with the title, “Transgender lobby forces sanitary towel-maker Always to ditch Venus logo from its products.”
Proctor & Gamble is standing by the decision — which they made in response to feedback, but which was not "forced." In a statement to Snopes, they said, “After hearing from many people, we recognized that not everyone who has a period and needs to use a pad, identifies as female. To ensure that anyone who needs to use a period product feels comfortable with Always, we’re adjusting our pad wrapper design as part of our next round of product changes. As a global brand, our design updates will be adapted by multiple markets at various dates beginning in January/February 2020.”