Proctor and Gamble, the maker of Always menstruation products, announced this week that it would stop printing the Venus symbol — the universally recognized symbol for womanhood and femininity — on the wrappers of its sanitary napkins in order to be more inclusive and accommodating for transgender and non-binary customers.
“For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so,” the company said in a statement. “We’re also committed to diversity and inclusion and are on a continual journey to understand the needs of all of our consumers.”
The move comes after activists for the rights of transgender individuals suggested that use of the symbol might be off-putting to trans men who may menstruate and need the product but do not identify themselves as female. Supporters applauded P&G for its decision.
Steph deNormand, the Trans Health Program manager at Fenway Health in Boston, told NBC that seeing “female-coded” imagery can cause anxiety among trans and gender-nonconforming people and 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.”
Conservative commentators, however, described the move as excessively subservient to a tiny, vocal minority. Headlines about the move in conservative media accused P&G of “caving” to “radical” activists. Comments on social media were even more vituperative.
P&G said products in the new packaging would begin appearing on shelves in 2020.