In August, Scotland became the first country to offer free period products to anyone regardless of gender. It is a significant achievement that ensures lower income people will have access to essential hygiene, and activist/model Kenny Ethan Jones recently spoke to PinkNews about the impact this will also have on trans people.
“I’m so glad Scotland made this gender-inclusive,” Jones says, “because – being such a large country – they’re essentially saying: ‘We believe that trans people are just as entitled as cis women to these products because they need them too.’ It sets the tone. It says that trans people are seen and deserve access to period products.”
Jones was the face of the 2018 “I’M ON” campaign by period subscription service Pink Parcel, becoming the first trans man featured on such a campaign. Ever since, he has consistently been an outspoken advocate of healthcare equity and provides education on menstruation.
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Jones traces his advocacy back to his youth, where he had to navigate menstruation without inclusive guides. “These products didn’t refer to me so [I felt like], ‘Should I be experiencing this?’ ‘Am I normal?’” he recalls. “That caused such a disconnection with my body which left me feeling disconnected from myself, affected my self-esteem, affected the way I moved through the world.”
He has since made it his mission to ensure that period products are inclusive and accessible. “It shouldn’t be based so heavily on gender, but I think that’s the way that society is,” he says. “Trans people are such a small amount of the population so there wasn’t necessarily that need or understanding previously.”
Jones goes on to explain why this change has been so slow. “I think there’s a level of fear inside cis people essentially having to forget everything they’ve ever known about society and start to see it differently. That’s a lot,” he says. “There’s a heightened number of openly trans people, and [society] is taking a bit longer to catch up.”
The UK at large is aiming to end period poverty by 2030. While efforts to end period poverty in the past have been solely focused on cis women, Scotland has recognized that eliminating period poverty means including trans people. “Even if all cis women were taken care of, there will still be period poverty because trans people are not taken care of,” says Jones. “Period equity means all of us to have access to products, education, feel seen and are taken care of health-wise.”