There's no perfect solution to being a modern and inclusive women's health brand. In fact, perfection is ultimately the flaw because it implies that there is a solution... a finish line... a box to check. The reality is, being an inclusive brand today means always working, always striving, always reaching for better.
One struggle we face is the evolution of nomenclature. Language, as it always has and always will, is evolving. People tend to be accepting of additional language (remember when we added YOLO to the dictionary in 2012? Or twerk in 2013? #ThanksMiley), but like most things in life, there is reluctance to accept changes to existing things and "norms." Like gendered pronouns.
There are endless articles about identifying your gender pronouns in emails, social profiles, etc. to challenge assumptions based-on name, appearance, and other portrayed feminine or masculine qualities. But there are not endless articles or resources for brands on how to address male and female human populations, especially when it comes to health.
DotLab is a "women's health" brand. We service a population of people that largely identifies as women. But endometriosis and other health conditions that we care about are not exclusive to people who identify as women. Endometriosis is exclusive to people who have a menstrual cycle and/or a uterus. At least that's our assumption because so little money, time, and resources have been invested in learning about the cause of this disease.
So how do we inclusively talk to the endometriosis population? The women, the trans men, the intersex people (and even the very few men who suffer) from endometriosis? What terminology is appropriate? How can we be clear and succinct in our efforts to be inclusive of all endometriosis sufferers?
So what are we left with? Womb-bearing? As you can imagine, we’d love to avoid using archaic and obviously cringe-worthy language to address the people we are trying to help.
Broadly, we'll continue use of the words "woman/women" and "she/her" pronouns to refer to the general population in marketing communications, but when space allows, offering additional inclusivity and specificity. For example, "women and people with menstrual cycles." We'll always strive for visual inclusivity of all types of people in our marketing materials to avoid further perpetuating stereotypical and idealistic standards of femininity and womanhood. And in clinical settings, where we must be more technical, we'll use the terms "female person/s" or "female adults" to be more specific to the biological requirements of our studies and offer annotations when appropriate.
Our language and messaging may evolve over time. While consistency is important, we also believe putting a stake in the ground in any direction isn’t the right move. We will continue to learn/unlearn and receive criticism and critique in our never ending journey to recognize, nurture, and support our beloved endo community. The most important message for us to communicate is that we cherish our community and recognize that while we may not have the perfect words, we have one goal: to help people with endometriosis get the answers they deserve.
To learn more about gender equality for people with endometriosis, check out these resources:
We welcome and appreciate your feedback. If you’d like to offer your POV to help us continue supporting our community and our mission for finding the right words, please send a note to email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Shingi Rice