Men Bleed Too: Talking Periods With Activist Kenny Ethan Jones
Posted by Saeng-Fah Graham
Dec 10, 2018
Saeng-Fah Graham leads De Lune's community education initiatives. She is a Menstrual Doula with a passion for empowering humans through knowledge of their menstrual cycles.
Kenny Jones is a model, activist, entrepreneur and creator. He's known for influencing the masses as well as being courageous taking part in record-breaking campaigns. His lead role with pink parcel “IM ON” campaign went worldwide making history by being the first Transman to front a campaign about periods.
SF: Kenny, you were one of the first Trans Men to front a campaign about periods. Could you tell us more about that experience and what impact you hope the campaign has?
KJ: Initially it was confusing, I didn’t understand why a brand wanted to use a transman to front a campaign about periods, little did I know this was an idea of genius and the beginning of a gender neutral movement as well as my mainstream career as an activist.
Since featuring in Pink Parcels ‘IM ON’ campaign I’ve seen a shift, the world has changed its perspective on menstruation. I’m a transman welcomed into a feminist space! The conversation has become more inclusive to trans, non-binary and intersex individuals. Brands are using the phrase ‘People who bleed’ and displaying less girly imagery. I’m still learning a lot about myself and my own body but I’m grateful to have the support of so many powerful menstruation organizations.
I hope that we continue to see this level of diversity within the community as well as more factual and scientific data around trans men menstruation experience.
SF: Even though you don’t have periods any more, we understand you still get cramps and emotional fluctuations sometimes; how do you navigate these and practice self-care?
KJ: It can be quite difficult from time to time, the cramping can become unbearable and I find myself in excruciating pain. I’ve spent many years fighting the way that periods make me feel but I found real peace once I accepted it’s just a part of who I am.
I’ve learned to pay close attention to my body and give myself a time out when needed. I normally spend the day at home avoiding plans and taking the day one activity at a time.
SF: What’s the most common misconception about periods and Trans men?
KJ: I wouldn’t say there are any misconceptions since this topic isn’t discussed but I do believe it’s important for people to understand transitioning leaves you in many phases.
Each transman experience will be different based on where they are in their transition and what decisions they’ve made. It may be early days into their transition and not yet be on hormone blockers or testosterone. There's individuals like myself who have been on T for years and still experience the side effects of periods, other many not. Last but not least you have transman that have decided not to take T for personal reasons and experience a full blown period.
So to say the least, don’t prejudge a transman circumstance because you really don’t know!
SF: What advice would you give to younger folks/younger transmen who are experiencing dysphoria with their periods?
KJ: It gets easier! I promise. I have been there, accept that it’s just a very small cost for you becoming the man you know you are meant to be.
SF: If you could change one thing that’s taught in schools around periods, what would you change?
KJ: I’m probably not the best person to answer this question as I didn’t spend much time in school and my memory is very fade but I would say that all genders should learn more about periods. Men are push into a corner and told you don’t need to learn about menstruation leading to lack of understanding of the effects, stigma and a bridge between genders.
SF: Who or what inspires you in your daily work?
KJ: A few things…
- My Mum!
- The belief that one man can change the world
- I want individuals to find their truth throughout me living mine
- The fear of dying without achieving any real change in the world
- Discovering the truth of transitioning other that what we know today
- Becoming a legend.
SF: We’re based in the US while you are based in the UK; do you think Trans visibility and support are on the same track in both countries?
KJ: No way! there is a massive difference between the way Trans individuals are supported in the US vs UK. Trans individuals that live in America are constantly faced with efforts to be erased by laws especially. Trumps administration latest endeavor is to define ‘Transgender’ out of existence, this is a clear example of that. Meanwhile in the UK we had the recent survey of whether or not the GRA ‘Gender Recognition Act’ needs to be update to better serve Trans and Non-binary individuals. Where people feel less supported you’ll see less visibility as a result. I’m sure there is more Gender based activists in the UK.
SF: What do you think is the most critical unmet need for bleeders who are not women?
KJ: Diversity in products. The packing (normally girly), where they are located in shops (causing an embarrassing and awkward walk through) and period underwear only suited to women. I also believe we need to see a restructure in the way education is presented e.g. not all people who bleed are women.
SF: What are your thoughts on the #periodpositive movement happening right now, and what does period positivity really mean to you?
KJ: It’s really empowering to see so many individuals come together in passion with a real urgency to change the society we live in. For me period positivity means the ability for every single individual to feel comfortable with their bodily function regardless to how they identify, where they are located and have access to the required products.
SF: What is one way that those who don’t menstruate can support those who do?
KJ: Just be supportive and understanding and if you’re really interested educate yourself :)