Conversations surrounding the female menstrual cycle are STILL seen as taboo in 2018, but a U.K.-based period subscription service has launched a campaign to encourage open dialogue about periods—and they’re including a man to do so.
Let us explain: Pink Parcel’s new “I’m On” campaign was started in order to break the stigma and shame that comes with discussing women’s periods. The campaign launched with a series of T-shirts hailing slogans such as “I’m on. Period” and “I’m on and I’m strong.” £5, or $7, of the proceeds from each shirt will go to Bloody Good Period, an organization that provides feminine health products to asylum seekers and refugees.
Pink Parcel’s campaign includes activists, fashion designers, writers, and 23-year-old transgender male model Kenny Jones, who offers a perspective that we don’t usually get when it comes to discussing periods.
When Kenny was only 15 years old, the mental battle of transitioning took a toll on him. According to Jones, having his period during this time was a constant reminder that anatomically he was in fact female.
“Four days of the month with me acting awkward,” Kenny tells BET.com exclusively, “attempting to [hide out] in my bedroom, or coming up with creative ways to ditch pads in public, as I used the men’s bathroom which didn’t have sanitary bins. I’d often use the disabled toilet. That would often raise more questions.”
According to Buzzfeed, many transgender and non-binary people have a similar experience to Kenny when their period comes each month. Kenny says he was very confused growing up because transgender individuals did not speak out about their periods and it made it that much harder on him. Due to this, Kenny did his own research to understand why he still experiences period pain.
“I believe the cause is my womb. Hormone replacement therapy can only do some much to your body and stopping its original functionality. I’ve noticed that the pain tends to appear at a similar time to my testosterone injection being due so maybe it’s my organs attempting to kick start again… I’m unsure if the pain will ever disappear but that’s just the cost of being me – I can live with that.”
Avoiding having honest conversations about periods is prevalent basically everywhere. Pink Parcel polled 2,000 British adults and found that 34 percent of them still see periods as a taboo subject. 50 percent of them do not discuss them with their partners and 44 percent were not even comfortable talking about periods with their girls. They also found that only 8 percent of period-related content online shows the experience of the trans community.
Though Kenny spent 11 years in therapy, he says he dealt with most of his issues silently. So, when it came to period pain, he wasn't even comfortable discussing it with his doctor in fear of being judged or questioned as a man. In joining this campaign, Kenny wanted trangender males like himself to finally feel comfortable talking about period pain.
“This campaign was also in line with my personal philosophy. I believe to evolve as human beings we must be provided with valuable knowledge by the generation before us. The 'I’m On' campaign is an attempt to break down stigma and innovate conversation behind a 'taboo' subject. Conversation causes curiosity which leads to knowledge and knowledge is power,” Kenny explains.
Surprisingly, Kenny has received the most backlash from the groups who he was attempting to help in joining this campaign: women and transgender men.
“Would you have an issue with a woman who has been through menopause talking about periods? Or an assault victim talking about a previous attack? Just because I identify as male and no longer have periods does not mean I cannot discuss it. I will not be discouraged by negativity when my intentions are clean.”
Nevertheless, he will continue to stay committed to educating people when it comes to unconventional transgender topics. Jones even started a YouTube series in order to break down the stigma and open up more about the reality of what transgender individuals face every day.
(Photo: Pink Parcel)
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