We have seen over recent years far more attention paid to gynaecological health and period poverty by Governments, employers and education providers. It’s not unusual now to hear someone talk about their experiences of the menopause on the TV and in the media. However, much of this work is focused on cisgender women. It is, of course, important that these voices are heard, especially when we know women’s health is so poorly understood. This includes doctors and nurses responsible for supporting women through life events such as menopause. It is equally important that work to raise awareness of gynaecological health and period poverty is inclusive of the full range of people who are affected. We must remember that not all women do experience menstruation or menopause, and not all of those who do menstruate are women.
In 2020, Scotland led the world in bringing in a new law to make period products universally available to all those who need them. An important part of the Period Products Bill was the idea of universal provision. Ensuring that products such as tampons, pads and reusables can be freely accessed by trans men, non-binary people and cisgender women. I was delighted to see MSP, Monica Lennon adopt an inclusive approach to her work to eradicate period poverty in Scotland. My own research suggests that trans and non-binary people can find menstruation challenging, as it can reinforce feelings of gender dysphoria, particularly when having to navigate bathroom facilities and heavy periods. For this reason, I hope that employers, education providers, bars, etc. will provide period products in all the toilets, including those for men.
I hope we can all learn from the inclusive approach taken by Monica Lennon and make sure that our efforts to create menstrual justice, improve understanding of gynaecological health and eradicate period poverty are inclusive of all those who are affected.
By Professor Kate Sang