Sanitary brand Always removes female Venus symbol from packaging to become more inclusive, stirs controversy
The decision came after transgender customer Ben Saunders raised a question about the existing symbol on the products, which they feel excludes transgender and non-binary customers
Sanitary napkin brand Always has announced that they are going to remove the Venus symbol on their products to make them more inclusive of all customers from the trans and gender-nonconforming communities.
The decision came after transgender customer Ben Saunders raised a common question with several other activists about the existing symbol on the products.
They feel the symbol excludes their transgender and non-binary customers — customers who do not identify as women but also have to use their products.
According to a Metro report, the activists tweeted the company asking "Could someone from Always tell me why it is imperative to have the female symbol on their sanitary products? There are non-binary and trans folks who still need to use your products too you know!"
In response to that tweet, Always shared they would remove the symbol from their products ensuing December 2019. Their full distribution is expected by February 2020.
The North American customer care team of the brand shared in a letter posted online, "We listened to you and our marketing team worked a solution. We are glad to inform you that as of December we will use a wrapper design without the feminine symbol."
Following the major decision, social media exploded in a massive cluster of support with advocacy organization Trans Actual tweeting: "Well done to @Always for making sure your packaging is inclusive."
"We're quite frankly worried for the women whose sense of self is so fragile that the removal of a symbol from a packet of sanitary towels makes them feel "erased". Others chimed in with remarks such as: "They are menstrual or period products, not feminine products."
In a statement, Always shared: "For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so."
"We're also committed to diversity and inclusion, and after hearing from many people across genders and age groups, we realized that not everyone who has a period and needs to use a pad identifies as female," the statement continued.
"To ensure that anyone who needs to use a period product feels comfortable in doing so with Always, we updated our pad wrapper design."
It added, "Our mission remains to ensure no girl loses confidence at puberty because of her gender or period and we do this through our puberty education programs, by providing access to period products with programs such as #EndPeriodPoverty, and by using our brand voice to tackle societal barriers and stigmas like we did with #LikeAGirl."
Speaking to NBC, Steph de Normand, Trans Health Program manager at Fenway Health in Boston addressed how female imagery could deter trans and nonbinary people from purchasing sanitary products.
"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," deNormand said.
"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 brand's decision has also managed to stir controversy, with certain users threatening to boycott the product as they feel this change in packaging contributes to "female erasure".
"Women are quite literally being erased from sanitary products now," wrote one user, while others complained: "Is there anywhere we are allowed to be visible?! @Always" and "I have bought your product since the age of 10. Stop erasing the people who use your product from your product. Or you erase my purchase power too."
Other conservative commentators have accused the brand of "caving": "Always to also change their name to 'Always Pandering' in an attempt to be more honest with their customers. #LiberalsRuinEverything."