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A gynecologist tweeted about periods, and a great discussion about gender happened.

A trending hashtag started an important conversation about what words we use.

A gynecologist tweeted about periods, and a great discussion about gender happened.

How would the world be different if men had periods?

It's certainly not a new question. More than 40 years ago, Gloria Steinem wrote "If Men Could Menstruate," a sharply satirical take on how society treats men versus women.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.


"So what would happen if suddenly, magically, men could menstruate and women could not?" wrote Steinem. "Clearly, menstruation would become an enviable, worthy, masculine event."

She goes on, joking that if men could have periods, they'd "brag about how long and how much," they'd view them as signs of strength and masculinity, and they'd fight to ensure "sanitary supplies would be federally funded and free." Reading that, one can't help but think about how different the world actually is.

Recently, the hashtag #IfMenHadPeriods trended on Twitter, revitalizing Steinem's decades-old criticism for the modern day.

In a string of tweets, Dr. Jen Gunter, OB-GYN and writer, began dishing out some real talk about periods that roughly 50% of the population can't fully appreciate. Within a few short hours, #IfMenHadPeriods started trending.

The tweet that sparked the trending hashtag spawned a conversation that both was and wasn't what Gunter intended.

"It was the end of a larger tweet stream about menstruation that started in response to mansplaining about periods and mood," Gunter wrote in an email. "Some guy tried to correct a woman by saying ovulation affects mood not menstruation. So I started tweeting about all the ways periods are inconvenient."

"Lots of people responded, many shared their own stories. I tweeted about accidentally inserting 2 tampons, ripping out pubic hair with pad adhesive, and the bloodbath of changing a tampon on a train for example. Many people seemed to like to hear that the same period issues they've had a GYNO has also experienced."

In starting the conversation, Gunter's goal was to vent and bond with others who have periods — gender aside. But somewhere along the line, #IfMenHadPeriods became the hashtag of choice for people responding to Gunter's tweets, presenting an unforeseen problem.

The hashtag, unfortunately, misses one very crucial point: Some men do have periods — transgender men.

Some trans men — that is, men who were assigned female at birth — jumped in on the hashtag to helpfully remind others that they exist. The responses to their tweets tended to range somewhere between "Trans men aren't really men" and "You are a woman," neither of which is particularly helpful.

Is this just another example of "hurt feelings" and "political correctness run amok?" Not exactly.

"The refusal to accept and recognize that there are men who menstruate and get pregnant and there are women who have penises and don't, contributes to the relentless assault on trans people in courts, legislatures and on the streets," ACLU staff attorney and trans man Chase Strangio wrote in a Twitter direct message, explaining that human bodies are more complicated than a reductive gender binary narrative suggests.

In regards to the trending hashtag, Strangio said, "there are better ways to call out sexism than erasing the bodies of people who are not cisgender."

This type of reductive language that labels people according to what body parts they were born with has real-life consequences.

For example, a Lambda Legal study of health care found that many trans men were denied reproductive health care simply for being trans.

“I called a gynecologist’s office trying to schedule a hysterectomy," reads a trans man's story in Lambda Legal's report. "I told the receptionist that I was a transgender male. Two days later, I received a phone call telling me that the doctor did not take cases like mine and referring me to a hospital. I remember feeling like a freak. I called the second number. The receptionist told me they didn’t deal with transgender men either."

Kelley Cantrell was one of the most vocal critics of the hashtag, and they've written about the real-life effect this type of messaging has on trans men and non-binary people in the past.

"For the trans men (and anyone else who identifies on the masculine spectrum) who go to OBGYNs or get yearly exams at their [primary care physician], it creates a really uncomfortable environment when their healthcare providers refer to them as women and use female pronouns," Cantrell wrote in an email. "Healthcare providers need to be more up to date on the queer community's healthcare issues so that they can foster inclusive, safe spaces in their hospitals and offices."

All of this is to say that, yes, it can be tough to find the balance between inclusive language and effective messaging. So what to do?

On one hand, the overwhelming majority of people who have periods are women, so it makes sense to refer to that as a "women's issue," right? On the other hand, it's not just a women's issue, as it ignores people who have periods but aren't women. Go too far in one direction, and people are being actively excluded; go too far in the other, and the core message gets completely diluted.

The balance between the two is something I've been wrestling with for years.

Sometimes, inclusive language comes off as a bit clunky, as evidenced by a recent Planned Parenthood tweet that used the term "menstruators" rather than "women." But maybe that's just because, in many ways, inclusive language is still a work in progress.

The response to Planned Parenthood's tweet was really heated, with some cisgender (non-trans) women arguing that not explicitly saying "women" was dehumanizing and a number of trans men, non-binary people assigned female at birth, and their allies praising the organization for making the good-faith effort to be inclusive.

Completely lost in the conversation prompted by the tweet was discussion of the actual topic at hand: the tampon tax. And maybe that's the fine line we need to keep an eye on.

There are real issues that need to be addressed in the world. So long as that's the case (as it will always be), the question of tact will come up.

In the case of the #IfMenHadPeriods tag, it seems like the discussion — which was about addressing institutional misogyny — veered off track. To get back, it's worth checking in again with Gunter.

Photo by Stefan Heunis/AFP/Getty Images.

"I hate that people feel menstruation is a taboo subject," wrote Gunter. Her tweet with the #IfMenHadPeriods hashtag was toward the end of her longer stream of tweets about one guy who tried to mansplain menstruation. "I'm actually quite sad it was the tweet that mentioned men that was the one that got picked up attention wise. The stream was about menstruation not men or gender."

"The point of my tweets [was] about the challenges of menstruation and patriarchy. It seems some of that was lost in translation."

Do some men have periods? Yes. Are most people who have periods women? Yes. Are trans men really men? Yes. Does society impose penalties such as taxes and employment discrimination on those who have periods? Yes.

As long as we can all acknowledge the above truths, we can have a good-faith conversation about what words we use to try to create change. Because here's the thing: All those people who were replying to trans men on that hashtag? The ones tweeting things like "You're not really a man"? They're not helping advance any cause.

Photo by Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images.

For this type of nuanced conversation to be productive, it's important we agree on the question being debated. In this case: Does inclusive language come at a political or social cost to a movement's effectiveness, and if so, what do we do moving forward? One example might be the question of whether saying "women's rights are under attack" is more effective than saying "reproductive health care is under attack." The latter is certainly more accurate and more inclusive; but is it as politically effective?

That's the line we need to walk. Effectiveness doesn't need to come at the expense of accuracy or inclusion, but it often does. It's by sitting down with others committed to the same cause (but who might have differing tactical viewpoints) and having a conversation about these nuanced aspects of life that we can help create better, more effective, more inclusive political movements that work for everybody's interests.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.