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Kenny Ethan Jones, first trans man to front period campaign, shares how he deals with transphobia and trolls
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Kenny Ethan Jones, first trans man to front period campaign,...


As the first trans man to front a period campaign, Kenny Ethan Jones is changing the landscape and challenging perceptions – but that hasn’t come with his fair share of trolls.

In 2018 Kenny appeared alongside activists, fashion designers, and writers for the ‘I’M ON’ campaign, launched by period subscription service Pink Parcel. The brand’s mission was to change the stigma around periods.

The campaign was a huge success, attracting attention across the country, but with the positive responses inevitably come some negative ones, too.

‘I remember dealing with the first trolling I had on Instagram and thinking “ok, why am I still thinking about this?”‘ Kenny tells host Pandora Sykes on the Be More Burt podcast.

‘This person has probably gone to bed, probably isn’t thinking about it. I’m still up at night feeling quite hurt by what they said. Why?’

He continues: ‘I’ll always try to interact with people and I think I’m a strong enough person that I can manage those conversations.

‘Sometimes it’s just engaging in conversations that challenge people to think in different ways and even if they leave that conversation with the same kind of idea that they had coming in, well it’s like I’ve challenged that, and I’ve tried my best.

Kenny’s work is challenging stigma (Picture: Dave Benett)

Listen to Kenny’s full episode here.

‘More times people are respectful and they’re surprised I’ve engaged with them in that manner.’

Kenny, who was 14 when he came out as trans and 16 when he shaved his head and changed his name, goes on to explain how the rise of social media has polarised viewpoints.

He says: ‘For the most part, social media has turned our brains into extreme left or right views and there is no space for conversation. Either you believe or I believe or we can’t be friends.

‘I try to explore that middle ground, where sometimes all it takes is a little bit of conversation and they might go home and do more research, that can change their perspective…’

Kenny opened up about their platform with Pandora Sykes (Picture: YouTube)

Kenny also urges that while it’s important to engage in the conversation, your own mental health should always come first, and has coping mechanisms in place for when negative attention comes his way.

‘Experiencing lots of trauma growing up, I’ve learned to know when to disconnect from certain feelings,’ he explains. ‘Sometimes I think it’s good to process things. But I think it’s also knowing when to stop thinking about things.’

Author Kenny, whose book Dear Cis People comes out next year, says a large part of his online presence before was ‘reactive’, noting ‘someone said this that was transphobic, I [felt I] need to clap back and I’ve said something’, adding that ‘sometimes I wasn’t in the right mental space to do that or sometimes it was destroying my mental health’.

Adding ‘other people in the community’ can pick things up, Kenny says: ‘With anyone that has an online presence, really check in with yourself and make sure you’re doing right by yourself, you’re taking care of yourself.’

And while it’s given him a platform, Kenny reveals he did have some reservations before he took part in the ‘I’M ON’ campaign.

‘Usually, when people try to invalidate our gender identity it would be “oh well you’re aligning more with female anatomy”, so I thought that might be used against me.

‘I didn’t know how ready I was to handle those kind of conversations, because I wasn’t an advocate and I didn’t want to basically speak on behalf of my whole community and get it wrong.’

After a conversation with a trusted friend, Kenny decided to put his fears aside and emailed his manager to accept the campaign before he had a chance to change his mind. 

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‘It was bigger than I ever could have expected,’ he says. ‘It got over 200/300 pieces of press, it was listed for awards. I had the likes of Vogue and Glamour, all these big media outlets in my email box wanting to speak to me. I was like, wow.’

Since then, Kenny’s online presence has grown. But he notes that he’s now quite selective of what he posts, moving away from a culture of everyone having a ‘hot take’ on whatever is trending.

‘Sometimes sleep on the post you were going to write. I’ve stopped reacting to things. If I do want to write a piece on something, I’ll go to bed, I’ll wake up and think, do I still want to write this? Is it necessary? Am I going to be able to add more value to this conversation? And if I’m not, I don’t write about it.’

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