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Advocating for Gender-Inclusive Language in Menstrual Health

July 09, 2024

Group holding signs for gender-inclusive menstrual health language.

Using gender-inclusive language in menstrual health is crucial. It helps everyone feel seen and respected, especially those who don't fit into traditional gender categories. This article explores why it's important, common myths, how to make changes, and real-life examples.

Key Takeaways

  • Gender-inclusive language helps everyone feel respected and seen.
  • Using terms like 'menstruators' or 'people with periods' is more inclusive.
  • Education and training can help spread inclusive language.
  • Overcoming resistance to change is important for progress.
  • Real-world examples show that gender-inclusive language works.

The Importance of Gender-Inclusive Language in Menstrual Health

Group with signs advocating gender-inclusive menstrual health.

Impact on Non-Binary and Trans Men

Using gender-inclusive language in menstrual health is crucial for creating a supportive environment for everyone. Non-binary individuals and trans men who menstruate often feel excluded when discussions are limited to 'women' and 'girls.' This exclusion can lead to feelings of dysphoria and identity struggles. By using terms like 'menstruators' or 'people with periods,' we acknowledge their experiences and promote inclusivity.

Reinforcing Harmful Stereotypes

Traditional language around menstruation often reinforces harmful stereotypes. When we equate menstruation solely with womanhood, we perpetuate the idea that only women experience periods. This not only marginalizes non-binary and trans men but also reinforces outdated gender norms. Shifting to gender-inclusive language helps dismantle these stereotypes and fosters a more inclusive society.

Broadening the Scope of Menstrual Health

Gender-inclusive language broadens the scope of menstrual health by recognizing that not all who menstruate are women. This shift allows for a more comprehensive understanding of menstrual health needs and challenges. It also encourages the development of inclusive products, like period underwear for women, that cater to a diverse range of users. By adopting inclusive language, we can ensure that menstrual health discussions and products are accessible to all who need them.

Common Misconceptions About Menstruation and Gender

Group discussing gender-inclusive menstrual health issues

Equating Menstruation with Womanhood

Our understanding of gender is evolving, but the messaging around menstruation often remains the same. Gendered language can exclude individuals who do not identify as women, including transgender, non-binary, and gender-fluid people. It can also isolate individuals who identify as women but do not menstruate, such as those experiencing health issues, those who have had hysterectomies, or those who have gone through menopause. Operating under the assumption that all women menstruate can be equally as harmful as ignoring the fact that not all who menstruate are women. Menstruation doesn’t define anyone’s femininity, and assuming that all women menstruate isolates those who don’t but still identify as women.

The Role of Language in Shaping Perceptions

Language plays a crucial role in shaping our perceptions of menstruation and gender. Referring to menstruation as an experience of womanhood excludes those who identify as women but don’t have a menstrual period, whatever the reason may be. This can include menopausal women, trans women, or folks who have had a hysterectomy and no longer have menstrual periods. Exclusively referring to women and girls in conversations about those who experience menstruation, and using gendered language, excludes the spectrum of individuals who menstruate and whose identities don’t fall within the binary of male and female. This includes non-binary people, intersex people, gender-fluid people, and trans people, to name a few.

Challenging Traditional Views

Traditional views often link menstruation with womanhood, but this perspective is increasingly being challenged. Menstruation is a biological process that does not define gender identity. By using inclusive language, society can better support all individuals who menstruate, regardless of their gender identity. This shift in perspective can help break down patriarchal barriers and promote a more inclusive understanding of menstruation. For instance, New York Times's Top pick Period underwear for women is a product that can be beneficial for anyone who menstruates, not just women. This inclusive approach can help in creating a more supportive environment for everyone.

Practical Steps for Implementing Gender-Inclusive Language

Using Appropriate Terminology

Using the right words is key to making sure everyone feels included. Instead of saying "ladies and gentlemen," try using "folks" or "everyone." This small change can make a big difference. It's all about practice: the more you use gender-neutral terms, the easier it becomes. Remember, it's okay to make mistakes. Just correct yourself and keep going.

Educating Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers play a crucial role in making sure everyone feels comfortable. They should be trained to use gender-inclusive language. This includes asking for preferred pronouns and using terms like "menstruating individuals" instead of "women." Training programs and workshops can help in this regard.

Promoting Inclusive Brands

Brands have a big influence on how we talk about periods. Companies should use gender-neutral language in their marketing. For example, they can say "period products" instead of "feminine hygiene products." Brands like period underwear are already leading the way. By promoting inclusivity, they help break down barriers and make everyone feel welcome.

The Role of Education in Promoting Inclusivity

Group discussing gender-inclusive language in menstrual health.

Curriculum Changes

Education systems play a crucial role in promoting inclusivity by integrating gender-inclusive language into their curricula. Schools can start by revising textbooks and teaching materials to reflect diverse gender identities. This not only normalizes the experiences of non-binary and trans individuals but also fosters a more accepting environment for all students. Incorporating gender studies into the curriculum can further enhance understanding and empathy among students.

Workshops and Training Programs

Workshops and training programs are essential for educating both students and staff about the importance of gender-inclusive language. These programs can provide practical tools and strategies for using inclusive language in everyday interactions. Period underwear brands, for example, can sponsor workshops to educate communities about inclusive menstrual health practices. Such initiatives can significantly impact the way people perceive and discuss menstruation.

Community Outreach

Community outreach programs can extend the reach of gender-inclusive education beyond the classroom. Schools and organizations can collaborate to host events, seminars, and discussions that promote inclusivity. These activities can engage parents, local leaders, and other community members, creating a broader support network for inclusive practices. By involving the community, educational institutions can help dismantle stereotypes and build a more inclusive society.

Challenges and Resistance to Gender-Inclusive Language

Cultural and Societal Barriers

One of the main challenges in adopting gender-inclusive language is the deep-rooted cultural and societal norms. Many communities have long-standing traditions that equate menstruation solely with womanhood. This narrow view can make it difficult for people to accept more inclusive language. Changing these ingrained beliefs requires persistent effort and education.

Institutional Resistance

Institutions, including schools and healthcare facilities, often resist changes to established language norms. This resistance can stem from a lack of awareness or an unwillingness to adapt. For example, some educational materials still use outdated terms that exclude non-binary and trans individuals. Overcoming this resistance involves updating curricula and training staff to use inclusive language.

Strategies for Overcoming Challenges

To address these challenges, several strategies can be employed:

  1. Education and Training: Conduct workshops and training sessions to educate people about the importance of gender-inclusive language.
  2. Policy Changes: Advocate for policy changes within institutions to mandate the use of inclusive language.
  3. Community Engagement: Engage with community leaders to promote understanding and acceptance of inclusive language.

By implementing these strategies, it is possible to create a more inclusive environment for everyone, regardless of their gender identity.

The Psychological Impact of Non-Inclusive Language

Group discussing gender-inclusive language in menstrual health.

Non-inclusive language can have a profound psychological impact on individuals who do not identify with traditional gender norms. Dysphoria and identity struggles are common among non-binary and trans men when they encounter language that excludes their experiences. This can lead to feelings of alienation and invisibility, exacerbating mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

The mental health implications of non-inclusive language are significant. When people are constantly exposed to language that does not acknowledge their existence, it can reinforce feelings of worthlessness and isolation. This is particularly true in the context of menstrual health, where traditional language often equates menstruation solely with womanhood, ignoring the experiences of non-binary individuals and trans men.

Creating safe spaces through the use of gender-inclusive language is essential. By adopting terms like menstruators or people who menstruate, communities can foster a more inclusive environment. This not only helps in reducing dysphoria but also promotes a sense of belonging and acceptance. In educational settings, healthcare, and even in marketing period underwear, the shift towards inclusive language can make a significant difference in the well-being of those affected.

In conclusion, the psychological impact of non-inclusive language is far-reaching, affecting mental health and overall well-being. Embracing gender-inclusive language is a crucial step towards creating a more inclusive and supportive society.

Case Studies and Real-World Examples

Successful Implementation in Schools

In recent years, several schools have successfully adopted gender-inclusive language in their menstrual health education programs. For instance, a high school in California introduced a curriculum that uses terms like "menstruators" instead of "girls" or "women." This change has made a significant impact, fostering a more inclusive environment for all students. Students reported feeling more accepted and understood, which has positively influenced their overall well-being.

Healthcare Settings

Healthcare providers are also making strides in this area. A clinic in New York has started using gender-neutral language in all its patient forms and educational materials. This initiative aims to make healthcare more accessible and welcoming for non-binary and trans men. The clinic has received positive feedback from patients who appreciate the inclusive approach. Additionally, the clinic has trained its staff to use appropriate terminology, further enhancing the patient experience.

Corporate Initiatives

Several companies are leading the way in promoting gender-inclusive language. For example, a well-known period underwear brand has updated its marketing materials to be more inclusive. They now use terms like "people who menstruate" instead of "women." This shift not only broadens their customer base but also sends a powerful message about inclusivity. However, it's essential to be cautious about product safety, as concerns about toxins found in Knix panties have been raised. Companies must ensure that their products are safe for all users while promoting inclusivity.


In conclusion, advocating for gender-inclusive language in menstrual health is not just a matter of semantics but a crucial step toward inclusivity and respect for all individuals. By using terms like "menstruators" or "people who menstruate," we acknowledge the diverse experiences of those who have periods, including non-binary individuals and trans men. This shift in language helps to dismantle harmful stereotypes and ensures that everyone feels seen and respected. As society continues to evolve, it is essential that our language reflects these changes, fostering a more inclusive and understanding world for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is gender-inclusive language important in menstrual health?

Using gender-inclusive language helps everyone feel included and respected. Not everyone who has a period identifies as a woman. This change helps non-binary people and trans men feel more comfortable and accepted.

What are some examples of gender-inclusive terms for menstruation?

Instead of saying 'women' or 'girls,' you can use terms like 'people who menstruate' or 'menstruators.' Instead of 'feminine hygiene products,' you can say 'menstrual products' or 'period products.'

How does non-inclusive language affect people?

Non-inclusive language can make non-binary people and trans men feel left out and uncomfortable. It can also make them feel bad about their own bodies and who they are.

What can schools do to promote gender-inclusive language?

Schools can change their curriculum to include gender-inclusive language. They can also have workshops and training programs to teach students and staff about the importance of using the right words.

What challenges might people face when trying to use gender-inclusive language?

Some people might not understand why it's important. Cultural and societal norms can also make it hard to change old habits. But with education and open conversations, these challenges can be overcome.

How can using gender-inclusive language improve mental health?

When people feel included and respected, they are less likely to feel anxious or depressed. Using the right language can help create a safer and more supportive environment for everyone.

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