Several U.S. universities are implementing free menstrual products in their restrooms — male, female and gender neutral bathrooms alike.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison announced they will provide pads and tampons in three on-campus buildings, with their Red Gym building making the products available in the men’s restroom. The purpose is to provide help to transgender men or gender non-binary persons who menstruate.
“Menstrual products will be available in all of the bathrooms of the Red Gym so that they are available to any student who might need them,” spokesperson Steve Wagner told The College Fix.
Student Representative Katrina Morrison told the campus publication The Badger Herald that purchasing menstrual products was a “deficit and an unnecessary burden” for students. “Having them be free and readily available in campus buildings is definitely a necessity,” she said.
The program resembles similar programs from the University of Michigan, University of Maryland and Brown University, which are developing and implementing free menstrual product systems on their campuses.
“We wanted to set a tone of trans-inclusivity and not forget that they’re an important part of the population,” Brown University student president Viet Nguyen told NewsWeek. “I’d be naïve to say there won’t be push back. I’ve had questions about why we’re implementing this in male bathrooms as well. It’s an initial confusion, but people generally understand when we explain it.”
Other schools, like private liberal arts college Bowdoin College, are offering free tampons in men’s restrooms — with mixed results. According to student publication The Bowdoin Orient, someone defecated in one of the menstrual product trash receptacles in the men’s restroom.
In addition, many of the freely available tampons and pads had been thrown away unused, according one of the school’s housekeepers.
Nevertheless, the school has received a “generally positive reception” for implementing free menstrual products.
“I think people would be lying if they said that seeing them in the men’s bathrooms didn’t make them initially curious,” one student told The Orient. “But then I realized that it makes a good amount of sense just considering the fact that you don’t know who biologically is entering those bathrooms, versus who they identify as, so theoretically it could be useful to the people that also want to use those bathrooms.”