A Washington, D.C., artist has created a coloring book for children that looks to de-stigmatize how people view women's menstrual cycles by starting the awareness early. On top of that, however, she wants to teach children to believe that men, too, can experience periods.
Cass Clemmer grew up on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the womanly things weren't discussed openly. Her experiences inspired her to try to appropriately teach children what a period is and inform them that transgender men also have womanly functions.
"I didn't know what a uterus was, and I didn't know where this blood was even coming from or why," Clemmer said in an interview with Mashable. "The only thing I was taught was how to clean it up so the world didn't see it — and then I was sent on my way to figure the rest out myself."
To do this, she created the character "Toni the Tampon," which is an unwrapped tampon with googly eyes stuck on it. There are other characters that focus on the menstruation theme as well, including Marina the Menstrual Cup, Patrice the Pad and Sebastian the Sponge.
Toni has it's own Instagram account, and sometimes other characters make guest appearances.
Clemmen decided she needed to teach kids all of this by creating a coloring book that will inform them all about the menstrual cycle — and the transgendered.
"It's a tough conversation to have with kids, especially when you consider that adults are often struggling with their own internalized period shame," Clemmer says. "But hopefully, by opening up a fun and creative gateway to discussion, my period coloring book will help make that conversation a little easier."
Clemmer said she's aware that including the transgender element will make it a harder copies of the coloring book, but she's not concerned about that. According to her, the name "Toni" was chosen for the tampon character because it sounds just nebulous enough to be any gender.
Happy Thursday! Love, Toni & Friends #menstruationnation #menstrualhealth #periodpositive #happyperiod #tamponart #reprojustice #menstruationmatters #crimsonwave #cottonpony #sharkweek #makeperiodsgreatagain
A post shared by Toni the Tampon (@tonithetampon) on
"I'd rather help just one genderqueer or trans menstruator feel like they were seen, than sell a thousand copies only to reinforce the boundaries society draws by gendering periods in the first place,” Clemmer says.
The coloring book itself is available for purchase on Amazon for $12.
As Newsbusters highlighted, this isn't the first attempt in recent memory to normalize transgenderism.
In August 2016, both The Atlantic and Cosmo ran articles on “chestfeeding,” the new inclusive name for breast-feeding. Because, you know, women aren’t the only ones who do it.
The following month, Time highlighted the pregnancy of a transgender man named Evan who struggled to conceive, but finally gave birth to a son after ceasing hormone treatments.
Even the radical feminist group Lady Parts Justice League got into hot water for its name. In an article for Slate, writer and activist Parker Molloy accused the group of “reinforcing biological essentialism, tying gender to genitals.”