Kotex® Still Thinks Only Women Menstruate

According to new research released by U by Kotex, one in four women struggled to buy menstrual products within the past year because they couldn’t afford them. And one in five low-income women say they’ve missed work or school because they didn’t have access to period supplies. It’s a bigger issue than people realize, one that’s affected even my own community, raising truancy rates at area schools and motivating our local UnitedWay to do menstrual product drives within the last few years

That’s why U by Kotex launched the “With U, She Can” program to create greater awareness of what the brand is calling “period poverity,” or the lack of access to menstrual products in low income populations. The campaign is in conjunction with the company’s current partnership with the Alliance for Period Supplies, where it has already donated 2 million products this year alone.

It’s a fantastic program, one that is absolutely needed. The problem? These efforts overlook entire populations of people who don’t identify as women but who also menstruate.

Women Aren’t the only ones who menstruate

It’s 2018, so by now we all know that women aren’t the only ones who menstruate, right? There are countless people who have uteruses who do not identify as women. So when Kotex® developed their “With U, She Can” program to address the need for menstrual products in low income populations, why did they only address the needs of low income women?

According to the National Center on Transgender Equality’s 2015 report, which is the latest and most comprehensive survey of transgender people in the U.S. to date, people who are transgender are twice as likely to be living in poverty as the general population. In 2015, 29 percent of transgender people in the U.S. were living in poverty compared to 12 percent of the general population. One in eight (or 12 percent) of respondents experienced homelessness because they were transgender.

This data only covers the transgender community. It doesn’t include those who identify as gender non-binary or genderqueer, who also experience discrimination, poverty and homelessness at higher levels than your average cishet woman. Oh, and many of them have uteruses and menstruate and need period products.

How can we do better?

This isn’t a matter of a simple language change, though “With U, We Can” is a small, if pitiful, start. Companies like Kotex need to put their money where their mouth is by ensuring their products are getting into the hands of low-income transgender and gender non-binary people. Start a branch of their program specifically for outreach to the trans and genderqueer communities. Advocate for menstrual products to be placed in all bathrooms, regardless of what genitals the bathrooms are intended for, so everyone has access to them at all times. Include trans and genderqueer spokespeople in their campaigns because representation matters.

There’s absolutely no reason entire human beings should be forgotten from a vital campaign like this. If one in five low income women are missing school or work because they don’t have access to menstrual products, how many transgender or genderqueer people are missing school or work? It’s time for us to do better.


Author: Mika Doyle

Mika Doyle is a creative writer and communications professional based in Rockford, Ill. She has a bachelor’s degree in English/Literature and a master's degree in communications. She isn't shy about labeling herself a feminist and is a vocal advocate for gender equality. When she's not at work or studying, she enjoy playing with her 100-pound American bulldog, hiking, watching way too much Netflix and reading a good book. Follow her on twitter at @mikadoyle.

2 thoughts on “Kotex® Still Thinks Only Women Menstruate

  1. Big companies seem to be stuck in the old ways of thinking. I wonder who is in charge? This was a great Article. Definitely learned a few new things. Can’t wait to read your next post!

    1. Thank you! I was an “old thinker” too just a few years ago until someone was kind and patient enough to educate me on this. That’s why we need better representation in the mainstream so people take their power to the polls and make changes where it really matters: in policy.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.