In an effort to support Hipster Teen, who identifies as a boy and “can’t wait get on T”, I thought I would search out undergarments that would not trigger their gender dysphoria while they were getting their period. I asked Dr. Google to find me “period underwear for trans people” (cringey, I know) and had my mind completely blown.
The companies creating underwear for people with periods know they have a niche market and they are cornering the fuck out of it. I can get pissed off at paying about $7.00 for a 32-count box of Always Infinity flex foam menstrual pads without wings, but a 5-pack of Hanes cotton hipster panties costs $15.25. You’re basically paying $3.00 per panty, and around $0.22 per pad (-ish, I’m not that mathy.)
So if you’re a cis female like me, that’s approximately $3.22 for the panty and pads combo. Your mileage may vary, I’ve never been able to make cups work, tampons hurt, and the initial outlay of cash for the cloth variety of menstrual products has always been at war with my thrift. But it still doesn’t cost that much.
If you are a trans or non binary person and you want to wear underwear that doesn’t trigger your dysphoria and is also menstruation-friendly, you don’t have a lot of options. Boyshorts made for women lack that extra panel in the crotch where you can put your pad in and be sure it’s not going to slip off the seam. Men’s boxer briefs have that pocket up front, but that’s not where it’s needed most.
Where do you go for that underwear that is designed especially for you, a person that has a uterus and periods, but definitely doesn’t want to wear the traditional options?
Wherever you go, it’s going to be expensive. A quick search perhaps 7 pages deep on Google coughed up four vendors.
Pyramid Seven was also mentioned a lot on my Google search, and they seem to have one product: the Affirming Boyshort. What it’s affirming is anybody’s guess, maybe that you can afford to pay $45.00 for one? Oh, but if you buy 3 you get a 10% discount!
And then there’s Lunapads, bless ’em, home of the cloth alternative to wasteful menstrual pads and the Diva cup. They have a whole line of period underwear, including a boxer brief with the necessary crotch panel to use with their products, natch. How much for this inclusive unicorn of undergarments? $31.99, reduced from $39.99!
Now, I want to be a supportive mother for Hipster Teen, and not feel as if I am complicit in misgendering them, but I don’t even spend upwards of $40 on my own undergarments, unless I’m buying them in bulk.
Companies creating these products should already be aware that trans and gender-noncomforming people can experience up to a 16% rate of unemployment. Between the cost of finding an inexpensive binder that will not physically damage you (the cheapest starts at $19.99) and these varieties of underwear, that kind of economic uncertainty doesn’t exactly lend itself to splashing out on the “Affirming” boxer brief.
If these companies truly want to support the trans and non-binary communities of people who have periods, maybe they should put their products within financial reach of people like the kid sitting next to me playing Cookie Run on their phone, who gets paid in McDonald’s to babysit their sibling. That’s inclusivity.