A couple of years ago when non-binary model Rain Dove posted an image of them modelling a blood-stained pair of Calvin Klein boxer shorts, it got people talking. Rain challenges stereotypes through their work - modelling as both male and female because Rain doesn’t actually identify as either.
Periods are often perceived to be something only females experience but not everyone who has a period is female (and not all females have periods) and Rain, whose preferred pronoun is ‘they’, illustrates this perfectly via their now infamous Instagram post.
The first time Rain and I met was over lunch at a restaurant in New York. It was summer. Rain arrived in white denim shorts. Not long into lunch, Rain got their period. I had a box of Hello Cups that I was about to give Rain as a gift. The timing couldn’t have been better. White shorts and a period arriving without warning can be a bit of a disaster, but it didn’t seem to phase Rain. They rinsed their shorts under the hand drier, put their new Hello Cup in and bounced back to the table.
We talked about Rain’s childhood, feeling out of place as they grew up and managing periods when many thought Rain was male. I learn so much from Rain in just a few hours. It felt inevitable that we’d collaborate.
The next time I was in New York, I marched in the Pride Parade with Rain. I met Rain’s friends and heard stories from people who didn’t necessarily fit into our society’s sometimes rigid definitions and who had suffered as a result of judgement, racism, homophobia and more.
Periods have traditionally been marketed as an exclusively female thing. While a large percentage of the world identify as cisgender, meaning they relate to the gender they were born with, that’s not always the case. As humans we love to try to put things into ‘groups’. Unfortunately (and often unintentionally) this can lead to some people being alienated.
At Hello Cup, we want to make periods as inclusive as we can.
So what can businesses do? Be kind. Be inclusive. Listen. Learn.
It’s frustrating how many people use words as weapons. Words are powerful. They can cause a lot of hurt and marginalise. This is why we don’t use gendered terms on our packaging. Yes, 99% of our customers identify as women. But the other 1% matter to us just as much.
In 2020 Rain and their partner Kelsey came to stay with me in New Zealand. We went to an Elton John concert, visited the sex workers at the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, went to Auckland Pride and at the very end of their stay we shot some videos of Rain talking about what it’s like to have a period as a non binary person. There were no scripts.
Please watch the videos. They will challenge you to stop and think about the language we use and how it can unintentionally alienate people. Yes, we’ve had messages from people telling us that only women get periods. That we need to read the bible. That we need to go to biology lessons. But there’s a whole sector of people who have periods who’ve been lost and completely ignored by traditional period marketing.
If you have a period, we’re here for you.
- Words by Robyn McLean, Hello Co-Founder.
Photographer: Martin Schoeller