Period bill which expunges any mention of women set to be debated in Northern Irish parliament on International Women’s Day

A bill that aims to provide free menstrual products – but which expunges any mention of women – is to be brought before Stormont on International Women’s Day this week.

By Adam Kula
Monday, 7th March 2022, 8:27 am
Updated Monday, 7th March 2022, 11:50 am

The bill is called the Period Products (Free Provision) Bill, and is being driven forward by SDLP MLA Pat Catney.

It calls upon the Department of Health to make tampons available for free to the public, and suggests that this would apply in schools, colleges, universities, and health facilities.

The SDLP has now said that the bill’s next stage will come before MLAs tomorrow.

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A sign denoting transgenserism (from Creative Commons, public domain, credit transgender sign credit IndridCold

However, as the News Letter has previously revealed, the bill had been drafted in such a way that it deliberately avoids any mention of females.

This has been done to reflect the idea that boys and men have periods, too.

An SDLP press release quotes Mr Catney as saying: “No one should face going to school, college or work worried about not being able to afford vital health products to manage their period.

“That’s why I have been working hard to pass legislation that would create a duty on government and public agencies to provide period products for free.

“I am delighted that we have received such positive support from so many people, particularly from young activists who have provided immense support to me in my role as the bill sponsor.

“They have been an incredible source of inspiration, knowledge and direct experience that has shaped this legislation for the better ...

“This is an example of the power of positive politics and what we can achieve when we put people first.”

The total removal of the terms ‘women’, ‘girls’ and ‘females’ from the roughly-2,000-word bill is the result of campaigning by transgender activists.

In the past decade, their demands have emerged from relative obscurity to become an integral part of progressive political discourse, with schools, companies, and governments all adopting policies which have been drafted in consultation with such activists.

Transgender activists and their supporters believe that the previously accepted norms of gender are wrong, and instead of two fixed genders there is an unknown number of them, which people can adopt regardless of biology.

For example, they believe men can give birth and women can father children, because having male genes and organs does not make you a man, and having female ones does not make you a woman.

Last September Labour leader Kier Starmer was asked on TV what he thought of the idea that only women have cervixes.

He said this is “not right”, and is “something that should not be said”.

As the bill’s explanatory notes put it, “in line with modern drafting practice for gender neutral drafting ... the bill applies to anyone who menstruates (including transgender and non-binary persons), and not just to women and girls”.

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