A new line of underwear recently hit the market that aims to address a specific, clothing-based need for the transgender community.
THINX, a company that designs period-proof underwear, now offers a line of undergarments designed for the needs of trans men who menstruate. The inspiration for the line of underwear initially came when the company received backlash for their tagline, "Underwear For Women With Periods." After a number of people pointed out that individuals identifying as women aren't the only people who experience periods, THINX decided to address this need.
While the company only initially designed women's underwear, they now also offer "boyshorts."
"We thought, if our goal is to break this taboo and eliminate the shame associated with periods globally, we've gotta do that for everyone," Miki Agrawal, co-founder and CEO of THINX told The Huffington Post.
The Huffington Post spoke with Agrawal this week through e-mail about the new line of underwear for trans men and why the company decided to expand the types of bodies and experiences that they design for.
The Huffington Post: Why did you feel a need to create a product for the trans* community?
Miki Agrawal: Two summers ago, our "Underwear for Women With Periods" tagline was born. Around the same time, THINX had spread within the Reddit and Tumblr communities, and those are very vocal communities -- so a ton of people emailed us saying that women weren't the only people with periods. We were pretty struck by this, as it was something we hadn't given a lot of thought to, which is not super surprising given that there's such a lack of trans male visibility, even now. So, we did some research and came across articles like this that really opened our eyes. We thought, if our goal is to break this taboo and eliminate the shame associated with periods globally, we've gotta do that for everyone. We responded with this open letter exclaiming our support of the trans* community -- and at the time, we were really just getting started. We didn't have an established community of our own quite yet, which meant that our customer base wasn't made up of quite the same open-minded, progressive demographic as it is today. We lost a lot of fans, which seems tough for a young startup, but realized quickly that it didn't matter -- this was in line with our very intersectional feminist values, and was authentic to us as a company.
How did you end up developing the style for this underwear?
The positive response was truly amazing, and we continued to get endless requests so we knew we had to start thinking about what style we could develop with trans guys (and genderqueer people in general) in mind. In the emails we received, it was clear that most of them were simply asking for something without lace -- something just a little more masculine. We figured, a lot of women also really love wearing boxer brief-type undies as is, especially during their periods, so a style like that could really work for our whole audience. Turns out, it was a lot harder than we thought. If you think about a boxer brief or a boyshort, there's like, no crotch on there... meaning there's hardly anywhere to put our technology. It took almost a year of development to get to this product. We're so, so excited about it, and are especially excited to launch it during Transgender Awareness Week -- the same week we wrote our open letter last year.
“You can't break taboos if you won't talk about them, and if we had listened when everyone else said not to be so in-your-face about periods, the conversations being had around menstruation wouldn't be as they are today.”
What would you say to people who are saying to stick to women, or to stick to selling underwear, instead of getting involved in trans politics (or politics in general)?
I'd say... no! You can't break taboos if you won't talk about them, and if we had listened when everyone else said not to be so in-your-face about periods, the conversations being had around menstruation wouldn't be as they are today. I don't think a lot of girls can get through their Facebook feeds in a given day without something coming up about feminism or reproductive health right now, and that's a beautiful thing after a lifetime of everyone keeping so quiet about it. We're going to make the progress of people accepting and understanding trans men as menstruating people happen 10x quicker than it might otherwise just by being open and honest about it, and unafraid of people's judgments. We have an op-ed on our blog about why intersectional feminism matters, and it says that "Women of any background know what it feels like to be disrespected. We know what it feels like to be ignored. We know what it feels like to be hurt. Why would we let anyone else suffer the same?" and I think that's exactly it. That's why we have to support the trans* community as a part of ours.
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