Remember how the very enthusiastic salesperson at general stores start acting like drug peddlers the moment you ask for sanitary products. The hush, the whispers, the minimal eye contact, and the discomfort all wrapped in an extra layer of opaque covering to ensure all conversations remain under wraps.
Periods have by far been the biggest elephant in the room in almost all cultures, and unfortunately, modernisation has done little to solve the contemporary issues. Purity and hygiene-related taboos, continue to make people think that periods are a disease or a problem, that either needs to be dealt with or will hopefully vanish if just stop talking about it.
The government worsened this as it failed to acknowledge that period products are essential commodities that should not be taxed and for god’s sake should not be considered a luxury.
While the last few years have been a lot better than before, thanks to the freshly stirred conversations that happened due to some phenomenal initiatives like, Lahu ka Lagaan, Period End of Sentence, and Akshay Kumar’s Padman.
Finally, a lot of people including celebrities started coming out to openly talk about, but there was a small glitch in this movement.
While the menstrual movement started being associated with just women, a significantly important community felt alienated. This was the trans-gender or the gender non-conforming community. To sum up, yes people other than women have periods.
Assigned at birth females despite their newfound identity have monthly cycles, and this experience is often worse than what most women have to go through.
Additional struggles include lack of availability of products, heightened stigmatisation and the lack of recognition of the issue.
The absence of a simple facility like a pad disposal bin in male washrooms can often add to the daily struggle of a person.
However, the question remains, why are so many people completely oblivious to this issue? And why have these conversations not been a part of the already existing discussions?
For starters, the trans community is a minority community which is why most trans-related issues remain unaddressed in the bigger domain. Secondly, a lot of this starts at schools and homes, when period talks are reserved for just the girls. So what can we do now?
. Gender-neutral conversations about periods can significantly help people in accepting and becoming open to such ideas. It’s high time we start questioning the simple things like why are sanitary products marked as feminine products. Why do white pants get more representation than the people who are actually using the products?
Big changes cannot happen over time and this might not be the easiest change. Many like J.K Rowling might need a little extra time to wrap their heads around the idea of gender-free periods. But what we can do is, at least keep these conversations alive till basic changes are normalised and accepted by the wider society.