#TheWholeBloodyTruth: New campaign highlights Transgender period stories
Updated: Jul 29, 2020
Callaly are on a mission to platform diversity in the menstruation conversation.
A new campaign from period hygiene brand Callaly, are setting their sights on highlighting diverse period stories from people who menstruate.
It comes as the brand are launching new research which shows that 2 in 3 people do not feel that their experience of periods is shown in the media and advertising.
As part of the campaign, they are hoping to change the media's one story of periods by highlighting stories from people with disabilities, Poly-cystic Ovaries Syndrome and men who menstruate, to name but a few.
The brand say there is a lack of diversity and representation across the industry which tends to focus on able-bodied, cisgender women.
It comes following comments from Harry Potter author J.K Rowling who recently mocked the term "people who menstruate" on Twitter.
"For many people, periods are no joke," the brand said.
"In the wake of JK Rowling’s comments about the term 'people who menstruate', we decided it was time to take action."
The comments, led Callaly to conduct research surrounding the misrepresentation of periods in the media.
Their survey found that 55 percent of people think that the media's portrayal of periods was "too easy and carefree" or "too glamorised".
The research also suggests that only 40 percent of people understand that the term "people with periods" refers to trans and gender diverse people too, and not just cisgender women.
Kenny Ethan Jones became the first man to appear in a period campaign in 2018 when he fronted 'I'm On' from subscription service Pink Parcel.
As part of his story, Kenny opened up about growing up as a man who menstruates.
"Periods made me feel disoriented, isolated and further disconnected from my body growing up," he said.
"The physical pain was a burden but navigating a period was so much harder. I’d spend my days avoiding shopping for period products as everything screamed female hygiene."
Kenny said he would try to stay at home while on his period because leaving the house posed difficulties for men who menstruate.
"Leaving the house on my period would result in me stuffing bloody pads wrapped in bin bags in my pocket as there were no sanitary bins in men’s bathrooms to dispose of them."
"It became very clear early on in life that I was never thought about," he said.
"I never saw people like me in campaigns, I never heard phrases such as ‘people with periods’ and I never saw companies cater to anybody other than women."
Kenny said he has already seen a shift in the narrative surrounding periods, something he hopes will continue.
"This change in narrative and storytelling is so important to people like me because we all have to take care of our bodies and we shouldn’t have to feel fragmented from our identities to do so."
"Over the years my period story has become one of my life missions. I want all women/those who bleed (and those who no longer bleed) to be a part of the period conversation."
Author Vic Jouvert has also opened up about his experience with periods, and how it fuelled his gender dysphoria.
"I got my first period when I was 11 years old. I bled straight through my lucky pair of Spongebob printed boys’ boxer shorts on the bus ride home from school," he said.
"It was a horrific discovery and seemed to instantly void any luck those boxers had previously given me."
"Poor Spongebob was smiling up at me seemingly drowning in blood and I felt the deep sickening twinges of gender dysphoria for the first time."
Vic says he called his mother in tears, who gave him a box of pads. However, they didn't fit his boxer shorts meaning he had to opt for girls' underwear.
"This marked the end of wearing boys’ underwear, a final straw that had been building up as my body began to change and no longer fit comfortably into clothes from the boys’ section."
"I felt physically uncomfortable with the pad – which felt like wearing an adult diaper – and also deeply unsettled mentally."
Vic explained that without the knowledge or language surrounding periods, he began repressing his gender identity.
"I didn’t have the knowledge or language to explain what was going on. Instead my emotions were read as a side effect of the period itself and thus began more than 10 years of repressing my true gender identity."
"It is only now at 25 years old that I am beginning to reexamine my relationship with my period and reclaim it as an un-gendered bodily function that is just as much a part of my transmasculine identity as anything else."
Speaking about the campaign, CMO of Callaly, Kate Huang told Forbes that its time society recognised that not only cisgender women have periods.
“One of our first customers was a man – and, as a brand, we take our responsibility seriously in promoting this message.”
“Generations will remember this year for the seismic shifts we see in society. But out of troubled times however comes a new order, and at last, we are creating space for long-overdue conversations about personal identity,” she said.
Kate says it's ok that you may not have heard of the term "people who menstruate" before, but asks that you now understand the power that words can have.
“Take care to be more inclusive in the future. This isn’t a box-ticking exercise, it’s about understanding one another better so we can build a more compassionate, cohesive society," she said.