This Period Brand Is Asking Oxford Dictionary to Change the Definition Of Menstruation
Periods are often defined as a women's issue — literally. If you Google the word "menstruation", among the thousands of search results you'll find Oxford Languages' definition, which describes menstruation as a process experienced by a woman. But that statement isn't entirely true. Why? Because cisgender women aren't the only people who menstruate. Transgender men and non-binary people can, too. (Refresher: What It Really Means to Be Gender Fluid or Identify As Non-Binary)
To draw attention to that fact, period brand Flex is calling on Google and Oxford Languages to amend its definition of menstruation to be more gender-inclusive. "We're on a mission to get @google and Oxford Languages to lead with inclusion in all their descriptions," Flex shared in an Instagram post. "Since not all womxn menstruate, and not all people who menstruate are womxn, we made it really easy for them by fixing this definition of menstruation."
In the same post, Flex included a GIF showing Oxford Languages' current definition of menstruation as displayed on Google. It reads: "the process in a woman of discharging blood and other materials from the lining of the uterus at intervals of about one lunar month from puberty until menopause, except during pregnancy." But the GIF also includes a Photoshopped red strike-through across the definition's gender-specific phrase "in a woman". Take a look:
To amplify its message, Flex is also encouraging people to submit feedback to Oxford Languages directly, "until this description of menstruation is inclusive of ALL bleeders," the brand wrote on Instagram. (Related: I Tried Flex Discs and — for Once — Didn't Mind Getting My Period)
"As a period health company, we know firsthand that trans men and non-binary people can have periods just like women," Lauren Schulte Wang, founder and CEO of The Flex Company, tells Shape. "Most period brands are labeled as 'women's sanitary products' or 'feminine care. We do believe women are amazing. And we think all genders are amazing, too. [But] why not make room for others in our culture, starting with the way we define menstruation?" (Related: Bethany Meyers Shares Their Non-Binary Journey and Why Inclusivity Is So Damn Important)
Flex isn't the only brand fighting for more inclusivity in conversations about periods. Always pads recently removed the venus symbol (♀) from its packaging to cater to a more gender-neutral market. Period underwear company Thinx has been moving in a more progressive direction as well. A 2015 ad campaign for the brand featured Sawyer DeVuyst, a transgender man who spoke openly about what it's like being a trans man who menstruates. (Related: Thinx's First National Ad Campaign Imagines a World Where Everyone Gets Periods — Including Men)
Considering there are an estimated 1.4 million people who identify as transgender or non-binary in the U.S. alone, it's pivotal that brands and organizations continue raising awareness for their lived experiences. As Wang puts it: "All menstruators deserve to feel seen and recognized as people who have their periods, too."