Will we Always be transphobic?

Victoria Osho on Always's decision to remove the Venus symbol from their products, and what it teaches us about intolerance

Victoria Osho
27th October 2019
Image: Wikipedia
This month, the menstrual hygiene brand Always decided to remove the female symbol on their sanitary products to be more gender inclusive.

A significant part of the world applauded: it's about time that these companies realise that it is not only women who have menstrual cycles, and that some women do not even have menstrual cycles. However, there is still an incredibly large group of people opposed to the idea, insisting that this change does nothing to challenge gender norms, and that no matter what society wants to say, only women have menstrual cycles. Has Always's small but mighty gesture exposed us to the unfortunately deep-seated hatred of non-cisgender individuals?

The world has always ignored the existence of non-cisgendered people

Yes and no. Yes, because it shows us just how little the world cares about transgender and intersex individuals. No, because this is not the first time the world has turned a blind eye on non-cisgender individuals. The world has always ignored these individuals, both their existence and their need for more rights and protection. Even some members of LGBTQ+ society don't believe in the true existence of these people. The transgender suicide rate is the highest within the LGBTQ+ community, despite being the smallest group in the community.

The decision was announced to not insignificant backlash, including from The Sun and The Spectator
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Apart from transgender people, there are intersex people who are born with different reproductive organs from their gender (like a man with female reproductive organs, for example). These people are also ignored and, like transgender people, almost seen as freaks of nature: things to gawk at and examine, in an intrusive attempt to fully understand them.

The large-scale uproar at Always's decision betrays a refusal to include these people in society, as they are not considered completely human, simply because they are different from the rest of the population. No matter how many transgender flags are put in schools, work spaces or offices, no matter how many gender fluid toilets are out in place (which still isn't very many at all), we are still not quite there on inclusively.

This small gesture helps publicise the existence of transgender and intersex individuals

The people saying this does nothing to break down gender norms and expectations are wrong. Yes, this will not stop the unfair slaughtering of transgender and intersex individuals. Yes, this will not stop overt discrimination. However, this small gesture publicises the existence of these people; there is no excuse to blatantly ignore them in the name of ignorance. And that is always a good thing.

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