Change the language, change the story - the significance of period talk
By Kenny Ethan Jones
Language, why is it so important?
As a trans man, I’ve always been sensitive to language, the language used to describe me… handsome vs beautiful and of course, he vs she. This sensitivity to language, amongst other things, caused me much agony growing up.
This is the power that language holds.
The sole use of she when discussing periods made me feel this way. It subconsciously communicated much more than its intended words yet we use it so passively with little to no thought on how our words affect others.
But there is a bigger problem...
When we solely use she to describe people that experience periods we by default exclude everyone who doesn’t identify as a woman from the conversation, and if we aren’t a part of the conversation we're not thought of. Corporations don’t think of us, government bodies don’t think of us and before we know it we have a whole system created on the needs of women, and nobody else.
That’s where we are today.
Here’s proof of that:
The majority of drop off centres only provide period product to those who identify as women;
Sanctuary bins only exist in the women and disabled toilets, and baby changing facilities;
All of the period underwear I’ve ever come across only have a feminine fit;
Within conversations periods often equates to womanhood.
Solely saying she means she is only thought about.
By saying phrases such as “people who bleed” this welcomes everyone of every gender into the conversation. I don’t
believe we should solely use gender-free language when discussing periods, especially given the fact that the majority of people who experience periods are women and I would hate to take away from their experience or from those that tie periods to their womanhood. But I do believe it’s important that marginalised groups are not excluded because no-one deserves to feel alienated in something they experience.
So, my conclusion is simple…
Change the language, change the story.
Kenny Ethan Jones is a model, activist and entrepreneur. His activism is focused on menstruation, body politics, mental health and intimacy. He’s best known for his lead role in Pink Parcel’s IM ON campaign, in which he made history by being the first trans man to front a period campaign.
Find out more on www.kennyethanjones.com