Fierce

The Leading Menstrual Pad Manufacturer Has Just Changed Their Packaging to Include Non-Binary Customers And Twitter is Ablaze

On the heels of October 19th’s National Period Day, one brand that has created their empire off of menstruation is changing their rule book. On Monday, Always, the brand that makes sanitary pads for women, announced that they are removing the venus symbol from all their packaging. 

The Venus Symbol, a sign that consists of a circle with a cross coming from below it, has traditionally been used as a symbol representative of the female gender. But, as gender and trans issues have recently become more topical, trans activists have taken issue with Always for including the symbol on their packaging. Critics argued that the symbol worked to exclude gender non-conforming and trans men from their customer base. 

“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,” said Steph deNormand, a Trans Health Program manager, to NBC News. “So, using less coded products can make a huge difference.” 

Transgender advocates are applauding Always for acknowledging the mental health concerns of their range of customers. 

For many transgender advocates, this change has been a long-time coming. Just days ago, Sexuality Educator Ericka Hart racked up almost 18,000 likes and 4,000 retweets for tweeting out the statement: “Any gender can get their period,” complete with a yelling emoji. 

Now, Always’ decision to change their packaging is sparking a larger discussion around the larger way period-related brands market their products.

Dr. Jennifer Gunther, OB/GYN and author of “The Vagina Bible” responded to the news with overall approval,  but with a small caveat. She believes that we should all be mindful of the words we use when we’re describing menstrual products: “They are menstrual or period products, not feminine products,” she recently wrote on Twitter. She went on to say that we should all avoid calling menstrual products sanitary napkins because “having a period does not make you unsanitary”. 

Not everyone approves of Always’s newest marketing move, however.

Along with conservative critics who are blasting the company for pandering to the “radical left”, there are a bevy of feminist activists who are suspicious of the timing behind this move. Very recently, Always has come under fire for the quality of its products in developing countries–particularly countries in Africa. The hashtag #MyAlwaysExperience recently took over Twitter, with women (mostly from Kenya) describing burns and rashes the products have caused. 

Twitter user @kremzaroogianwho identifies as a trans man called out Always for what he believes is a “calculated move”. “It’s no accident always had this gender removal from their packaging when people started tweeting about their products in Kenya literally containing carcinogens”. Now, people who have periods have another reason to be wary of the brand that claims to “care about all women and girls”. When it comes down to it, it seems as if the brand seems to care about their bottom line more than anything else. 

While, of course, the company will get push-back for deciding to gender-neutralize their packaging, they’re also smart enough to know that the future is non-binary. And the future is where their money is. For example, IBM marketing executive Andy Bossley revealed in 2018 that “millennials feel that gender is a spectrum”, while “more than half the members of Generation Z know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns”. In other words, Always probably wouldn’t have taken this step if they didn’t see it as an ultimately lucrative decision. 

Latinas, of course, have not hesitated to make their opinions known about this news.

Many viewed this as the perfect opportunity to speak out about periods, reproductive health, and structural transphobia.

As usual, Puerto Rican performer Indya Moore came with their hot take:

This event sparks a larger discussion about the gendering of products at large–not just menstruation products.

This Twitter user was unimpressed with the arguments some people were posing as to why the packaging shouldn’t change:

The outrage over Always’s decision is interesting, considering that the brand isn’t even reformulating their product–they’re simply changing the packaging. 

This Twitter user expressed their feelings about the way people react to violence against the trans community vs. the way they react when the Always packaging is changed:

It’s undeniable that violence against trans people is an epidemic that should be addressed by all communities much more often. 

This person made an iron-clad argument as to why the venus-symbol packaging is problematic:

As usual, when there’s any change in society, there is inevitably a subset of people who want nothing more than to stick to their old ways. 

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This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

Things That Matter

This Digital Posada Is All About Helping The LGBTQ Migrant Community, Who Face A Uniquely Challenging Reality

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

With homosexuality still illegal in more than 60 countries around the world and attitudes towards transgendered people often even less welcoming, it’s obvious why so many people risk their lives to migrate to the United States.

However, that journey to a better life is often one of many dangerous hurdles and often times, once swept up in immigration proceedings, things don’t get much better.

LGBTQ detainees across the country have shared harrowing experiences of being mocked or tortured for their gender identity or sexual orientation. Many others have been sexually assaulted while in ICE custody or while waiting for their asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border. And transgendered and HIV-positive detainees have both been denied medically necessary healthcare that has posed a risk to their lives.

LGBTQ migrants have the same issues and problems to worry about that all other migrants face, however, the LGBTQ experience comes with several extra hurdles.

LGBTQ migrants coming to the U.S. face unique challenges that often put them at increased risk of violence.

Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

Like so many others, LGBTQ migrants are often fleeing violence and persecution in their native countries. But despite often fleeing sexual violence and trans- and homophobia, so many migrants are sexually assaulted while in U.S. custody.

While just 0.14 percent of ICE detainees self-identified as LGBTQ in 2017, they reportedly accounted for 12 percent of sexual abuse and assault victims.

Based on a new report from the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy organization, LGBTQ migrants in federal detention centers are 97 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than other detainees.

Studies show LGBTQ migrants are among the most vulnerable, more likely to be assaulted and killed, especially trans migrants. Of Central American LGBTQ migrants interviewed by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2017, 88 percent were victims of sexual and gender-based violence in their countries of origin; two-thirds suffered similar attacks in Mexico.

Human rights group allege that ICE fails to provide proper medical care to LGBTQ migrants – particularly trans and HIV-positive detainees.

Migrant advocacy groups and several lawmakers have demanded that ICE release all LGBTQ detainees and anyone with HIV in the agency’s custody, because the government has repeatedly failed to provide adequate medical and mental health care to them.

“We know that lack of medical and mental-health care, including lack of HIV care, is the norm,” Roger Coggan, director of legal services at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “By the Department of Homeland Security’s own count, 300 individuals identifying as transgender have been in custody and at the mercy of ICE since October of 2018.

For detainees with HIV, antiretroviral treatment is necessary to help kill and suppress the virus which ensures a healthy life but also reduces the risk of transmission to basically zero. Yet ICE is failing to provide this life-saving care.

Johana Medina Leon, a transgender woman who was detained at Otero and had tested positive for HIV, fell seriously ill and died at a hospital in nearby El Paso. Leon, 25, was the second trans woman to die in ICE custody in New Mexico in the past year. Roxsana Hernandez, 33, died in November 2018 after falling ill at the Cibola County Correctional Facility.

Meanwhile, Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy is presenting additional challenges to the LGBTQ community.

Credit: Spencer Platt / Getty Images

While the Trump administration has severely limited asylum qualifications for Central Americans fleeing gang violence and domestic abuse, migrants can still request asylum based on persecution because of their gender identity and/or their sexual orientation. But their path is far from easy.

The administration continues to return LGBTQ migrants to Mexican border cities where they face assaults, kidnappings and death while they await U.S. court hearings.

“Here, the same as at home, the police discriminate against us,” Alejandro Perez told NBC News in early October. “We’re very vulnerable. I don’t feel safe here in Mexico.”

Border Patrol officials initially said “vulnerable” asylum seekers would be exempted from the Remain in Mexico program, including those who are LGBTQ, pregnant or disabled. But that hasn’t been the case.

Thankfully, the LGBTQ Center Orange County is working hard to protect and help the most vulnerable.

Southern California is home to the nation’s largest undocumented community, which means organizations like the LGBTQ Center Orange County have their work cut out for them. However, the center has proudly stood up to help in powerful and life-changing ways.

The LGBTQ Center OC is one of the leading migrant outreach centers in the region, attending numerous events throughout the year and providing outreach at the Mexican consulate in Santa Ana – each year reaching more than 5,000 people. The center also played a pivotal role in ending the partnership of Santa Ana Police and the Orange County Sheriff with ICE, bringing an end to ICE detention within the county.

As those migrants were detained at facilities outside the county – sometimes more than two hours away – the center mobilized volunteers to help stay in touch with detainees. This team helps provide much needed companionship through letters and notes, as well as providing legal representation and even cash payments that help detainees get everything from a filling meal to in-person visits.

And the work the center does is so important because it shouldn’t just be on detainees to speak out. All of us as part of the LGBTQ and migrant communities should support those in detention and speak out about the injustices they’re suffering in detention.

The Center is hosting a digital posada and you’re invited!

We all know the tradition of a posada. So many of us grew up with a holiday season full of them and although this year will look very different (thanks to Covid-19), the LGBTQ Center OC wants to keep the tradition and celebration alive.

Posadas commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph in search of a safe refuge, a sentiment that so many migrants and refugees in our communities can relate to. It’s with this spirit that the center is hosting it’s annual posada – but virtually.

The important event is free for all to attend but is a critical fundraising event that enables the center to do all that it does for the LGBTQ migrant community across Southern California. You can learn more and RSVP here but just know that it’s an event you do not want to miss.

Not only will you be able to virtually hang out with members of the community and leaders from the LGBTQ Center OC but there will also be a screening of the short documentary, Before & After Detention, a spirited round of lotería, raffle, and a live performance by the LGBTQ Mariachi Arcoíris de Los Angeles.

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The Royal Spanish Academy Is Becoming More Inclusive As It Officially Adds Two New And Important Words To The Language

Culture

The Royal Spanish Academy Is Becoming More Inclusive As It Officially Adds Two New And Important Words To The Language

Soro Designs / RedBubble

Our society is in constant flux and with it, so is the way we express ourselves. Our ways of communicating and the words we use to do so have changed as the world changes. Just think about words like ‘computer’ or FaceTime or ‘influencer’, these words would of meant nothing to our ancestors. But to us they’ve come to carry important meanings that help us communicate.

It’s a similar argument for words that attempt to make language and communication more inclusive. Words like ‘Latinx’ and ‘Latine’ have become more mainstream as more people decide to use them. Although they’ve also become highly controversial and the debate is still out on whether or not they’ll become widely accepted.

However, just because some people may decide not to use ‘Latinx’ or ‘elle’ doesn’t mean that people who prefer to use them shouldn’t be able to. That’s exactly why the Royal Spanish Academy – which oversees the development of the Spanish language – has added several new and more inclusive words it’s so called ‘Word Observatory.’

Spain’s Royal Spanish Academy – the body that oversees the Spanish language – is making some serious updates.

In recent years, both academics and activists alike have highlighted the importance of using inclusive and non-gendered language – which isn’t exactly easy to do with Spanish. It was under this ideal that the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) decided to address the use of new terms such as the pronoun “elle”.

Last week, the academy unveiled the new design of its website, which has a more visual interface. The site includes a section called “Word Observatory” where, for the first time, the use of “elle”, “transfobia” and other words is addressed.

According to the RAE, the pronoun “elle” is a resource created and promoted in certain areas to refer to those who may not identify with either of the two traditionally existing genres. Its use is neither generalized nor established.”

The issue of more inclusive Spanish was addressed earlier this year when th RAE ruled on the request of Carmen Calvo – Spain’s Vice President. Calvo had asked the institution to consider “an inclusive” update to the language, something to help gender non-conforming and non-binary people express themselves.

Calvo’s position was seen as intending to criticize the required use of the masculine gender when referring to a group of both genders. But now that request seems to have made a difference as the academy is examining alternatives to the male and female usage.

However, it’s encouraging to see the RAE include the words in its observatory – the word isn’t officially in the Spanish dictionary.

Although the RAE clarified that “the presence of a term in its ‘Word Observatory’ does not imply that the RAE accepts its use”, the word generated confusion among several Internet users who wondered if the regulatory institution was on the way to accept more inclusive language.

Through its website the RAE says that these words are not yet part of the dictionary, since the “information is provisional”, meaning that the use of these terms is not yet recognized by the institution nor are they accepted in academic works, but they are being studied and could be added in the future.

The academy also added several other commonly used words to the official dictionary.

Credit: Victor Blanco / Getty Images

Along with the words ‘elle’ and ‘transfobia’, the academy has also added several other commonly used words by Spanish-speakers. Words like ‘bot’, ‘porfa’, ‘videollamada’, ‘influencer’, ‘guglear’, ‘loguear’, ‘ciberataque’, and ‘cruzazulear’ have all been added to the institution’s Word Observatory meaning they could soon become part of the official language.

The Word Observatory “offers information on words (or meanings of words) and expressions that currently do not appear in the dictionary but that have raised doubts, including recent neologisms, foreign words, technicalities, regionalisms, etc., according to the RAE.

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