The decision follows calls by transgender advocates who said the company was alienating trans and gender-nonconforming customers.
Always announced it will remove the Venus symbol from its menstruation products packaging following calls by transgender advocates, who said its parent, Procter & Gamble, was alienating trans and gender-nonconforming customers by not acknowledging that they, too, can experience menstruation.
“Could someone from Always tell me why it is imperative to have the female symbol on their sanitary products?” Twitter user Melly Bloom, one of those advocates, tweeted over the summer. “There are non-binary and trans folks who still need to use your products too you know!”
The company announced it would be removing the female signs from its packaging starting in December and aims to have a new design distributed worldwide by February 2020.
“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 are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers,” Proctor & Gamble’s media relations team told NBC News in an email Monday. “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.”
LGBTQ health experts said the decision is an ostensibly small change that may have significant consequences for trans and nonbinary people.
“This is a great move,” Dr. Jack Turban, a resident physician in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said in an email. “First of all, the symbol is unnecessary. Second of all, it sends a message to transgender and non-binary people who need these products that their identities are embraced and supported by the company,”
Steph deNormand, the Trans Health Program manager at Fenway Health, also championed the design adjustment, stating that seeing “female-coded” imagery can not only exacerbate gender dysphoria for trans and gender-nonconforming people, but can also prevent them from purchasing or accessing 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.”
While a number of transgender advocates and LGBTQ health experts applauded P&G’s decision to redesign the Always packaging, the company’s announcement sparked criticism online, including a bounty of transphobic commentary.
The Daily Mail, which has a history of publishing anti-LGBTQ stories, accused P&G of “kowtowing” to the “transgender lobby” and reported that women in the United Kingdom are now boycotting the leading brand. The site also used a picture of teenage trans activist Ben Saunders to accompany its story. Saunders, like Bloom, was reportedly among those who had reached out to Always regarding its Venus symbol.
I've been buying @Always since I started my periods, over 20 years ago.
— That Big Old Moon 🌚 (@Bigoldsupermoon) October 18, 2019
While some critics accused the company of trying to “erase women,” much of the criticism appears to be rooted in the misconception that transgender and nonbinary people cannot experience menstruation — a claim medical experts have debunked.
“Menstruation can occur for anyone with a uterus,” Turban wrote. “There are many medications that stop or lighten periods (used by both cisgender and transgender people), but these do not completely stop menstruation for all people.”
DeNormand also noted that not all trans and nonbinary people take hormones that can affect menstruation.
“While for a lot of people who take testosterone, the bleeding often decreases or goes away, for some it doesn’t,” deNormand explained. “And for others, taking hormones does not affirm their gender and is not the goal, so they may have a regular menstrual cycle.”
While some are now calling for a boycott of the brand, Turban said Always’ decision uplifts trans and gender-nonconforming people.
“The greatest predictor of good mental health among transgender and nonbinary people is feeling that they are accepted,” Turban said. “The company is showing that it accepts, respects, and cares about this population, which is a powerful statement for a community that is so often marginalized and rejected.”
Always’ announcement came right before the first National Period Day, which took place Oct. 19 — a day of protests elevating the issue of “period poverty” and demanding an end to taxes on tampons and pads.
By Gwen Aviles
9-year-old genius to graduate university
(CNN) – A child prodigy from Belgium is on course to gain a bachelor’s degree at the tender age of 9.
Laurent Simons is studying electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) — a tough course even for students of an average graduate age.
Described by staff as “simply extraordinary,” Laurent is on course to finish his degree in December.
He then plans to embark on a PhD program in electrical engineering while also studying for a medicine degree, his father told CNN.
His parents, Lydia and Alexander Simons, said they thought Laurent’s grandparents were exaggerating when they said he had a gift, but his teachers soon concurred.
“They noticed something very special about Laurent,” said Lydia.
Laurent was given test after test as teachers tried to work out the extent of his talents. “They told us he is like a sponge,” said Alexander.
While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.
But Lydia has her own theory.
“I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy,” she joked.
The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.
“That is not unusual,” said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, in a statement.
“Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport.”
Hulshof said Laurent is “simply extraordinary” and praised the youngster.
“Laurent is the fastest student we have ever had here,” he said. “Not only is he hyper intelligent but also a very sympathetic boy.”
Laurent told CNN his favorite subject is electrical engineering and he’s also “going to study a bit of medicine.”
His progress has not gone unnoticed and he is already being sought out by prestigious universities around the world, although Laurent’s family wouldn’t be drawn on naming which of them he is considering for his PhD.
“The absorption of information is no problem for Laurent,” said his father.
“I think the focus will be on research and applying the knowledge to discover new things.”
While Laurent is evidently able to learn faster than most, his parents are being careful to let him enjoy himself too.
“We don’t want him to get too serious. He does whatever he likes,” said Alexander. “We need to find a balance between being a child and his talents.”
Laurent said he enjoys playing with his dog Sammy and playing on his phone, like many young people.
However, unlike most 9-year-olds, he has already worked out what he wants to do with his life: develop artificial organs.
In the meantime, Laurent has to finish his bachelor’s degree and choose which academic institution will play host to the next stage in his remarkable journey.
Before that, he plans on taking a vacation to Japan for an undoubtedly well-deserved break.
New award to honor arts and activism named after Lena Horne
Gang members slam BMW into rival and his 8-year-old son in Harlem
Two gangbangers aimed their BMW like a missile at a father and his 8-year-old son on a Harlem sidewalk in a horrifying incident captured by video distributed by police Thursday.
The BMW — driven by a man police believe is a member of the Gorilla Stone Bloods Gang — was zeroed in on the father, a rival gang member, said cops.
Around 3:45 p.m. Nov. 6, the boy and his father were walking on W. 112th St. by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. when the BMW jumped the sidewalk and slammed into them both, said cops.
🚨WANTED for ASSAULT: on 11/6 at approx 3:43 PM in front of 128 West 112th St in Manhattan, a 32 yr old male was walking with his 8 yr old son when a white BMW jumped the curb & hit the father & son. The driver then got out and slashed the father. Call @NYPDTips with any info. pic.twitter.com/cwd79rcM4c
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) November 15, 2019
Father and son were both knocked through a gate.
The BMW driver then backed up — and its driver and passenger, also believed to be a gang member, jumped out of the car and ran toward the father and the son.
One of the attackers slashed the father, identified by sources as 32-year-old Brian McIntosh, who’s served prison time for robbery and bail jumping.
McIntosh and his son went to Harlem Hospital. Miraculously, the boy escaped serious harm.
McIntosh was so adamant about refusing to help police catch his attackers that the young boy’s mother had to file a police report alleging he was the victim of a crime, police sources said.
Cops released video of the attack, and ask anyone with information about the suspects to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.
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