The decision follows questions raised by transgender customer Ben Saunders and other activists about the need to include the symbol on the products, a decision that they felt excluded transgender and non-binary customers who do not identity as women, but who also use the items.
According to Metro, activists reportedly tweeted the company asking, “Could someone from Always tell me why it is imperative to have the female symbol on their sanitary products?
“There are non-binary and trans folks who still need to use your products too you know!”
In response, Always said it would remove the symbol from its packaging from December 2019, with full distribution expected by February 2020.
In a letter shared online, the North American customer care team wrote: “We listened to you and our marketing team worked a solution.
“We are glad to inform you that as of December we will use a wrapper design without the feminine symbol.”
The decision has been a controversial one, however, with some users boycotting the brand amidst allegations of “female erasure”.
“Women are quite literally being erased from sanitary products now,” wrote one user.
“Is there anywhere we are allowed to be visible?! @Always
“I have bought your product since the age of 10. Stop erasing the people who use your product from your product. Or you erase my purchase power too.”
The advocacy organisation Trans Actual saw the move as largely positive, however.
“Well done to @Always for making sure your packaging is inclusive.
“We’re quite frankly worried for the women whose sense of self is so fragile that the removal of a symbol from a packet of sanitary towels makes them feel ‘erased’.”
In a statement to The Independent, Always said: “For over 35 years Always has championed girls and women, and we will continue to do so.
“We’re also committed to diversity and inclusion, and after hearing from many people across genders and age groups, we realised that not everyone who has a period and needs to use a pad identifies as female.
“To ensure that anyone who needs to use a period product feels comfortable in doing so with Always, we updated our pad wrapper design.
“Our mission remains to ensure no girl loses confidence at puberty because of her gender or period and we do this through our puberty education programmes, by providing access to period products with programmes such as #EndPeriodPoverty, and by using our brand voice to tackle societal barriers and stigmas like we did with #LikeAGirl.”
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