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Why We Work for People Who Menstruate

Posted by Sarah Niedoba on 24 June 2020

At the Period Purse, we work to destigmatize menstruation and address period poverty. And part of that work is changing the conversation.

We understand the weight that words carry. It's why we're constantly evaluating the language we use to discuss periods, and the people who experience them.

Earlier this month on Twitter, author J.K. Rowling questioned the phrase "people who menstruate." Her statements set off a very public debate on the topic of gender, language and transphobia.

We'd like to take this opportunity to share why we use inclusive language when we talk about periods at The Period Purse, by choosing the phrases "people who menstruate" or "menstruators."

It's a conscious choice, one we make to acknowledge everyone who has a period, not just cisgender women.

To make sure we're all on the same page, we'll be linking to the GLAAD Media Reference Guide throughout this piece, to give you the best possible definitions for the identities and experiences we'll be discussing.

While conversations about periods often frame them as a "women's health issue," it's essential to acknowledge the experiences of trans and non-binary people who have periods, while also understanding that not every cisgender woman has a period.

And while these terms have been used by academics and activists for decades, they can still create controversy.

The public debate over Rowling's statements led to four authors quitting her literary agency in protest. Rowling's views on sex and gender are just one example of a long history of anti-trans speech from cisgender feminists, often referred to as T.E.R.Fs (Trans-Exclusionary-Radical-Feminists).

As culture writer Samantha Riedel outlined in an article for Xtra Magazine, the use of gender-neutral language when discussing menstruation has been met with anger from cis women, who see it as an erasure of their own experience.

"Terms like 'menstruators' or 'people who have periods'...are now being used by health providers to better include non-binary and trans men who need their services. But some still view this as an attack on cis women and their bodies," she writes.

In order to address menstrual inequity we must include the wide range of people who have periods. To do otherwise would be to advocate for menstrual health for some, but not others.

"Naming our specific health concerns opens up greater opportunities for everyone to access appropriate care," writes Riedel. "When we rely on reductive, gendered labelling, we only shut down opportunities to talk candidly about our individual needs."

We hope that you will join us in using gender neutral language to talk about periods and the importance of menstrual equity.

For more information, read Riedel's piece in full here, and explore Xtra's "Seeing Red" series, which explores periods from an LGBTQ2 perspective, here.

We thank you for your continued support. If you are able, consider sponsoring a mensturator for only $12 a month.

Sponsor a menstruator today.

Author:Sarah Niedoba

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