A number of US universities have started putting free tampons in the men’s bathrooms to cater for transgender men on their period.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison made a splash in the media after announcing its scheme to provide free menstrual products in several of its campus bathrooms.
As part of the pilot, tampons and pads will be available in a number of bathrooms, both female and male – in order to cater for transgender men who menstruate.
Spokesperson Steve Wagner explained to The College Fix: “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.”
Katrina Morrison, who proposed the programme, added: “It’s definitely a deficit and an unnecessary burden for [anyone] to have to go and purchase menstrual products.
“Having them be free and readily available in campus buildings is definitely a necessity.”
The scheme has been widely derided in the media, but the university is far from alone in putting tampons in men’s bathrooms.
As campaigns to provide free menstrual products become increasingly popular in US universities, a string of other sites have decided to also make the scheme accessible to men.
Bowdoin College, a private liberal arts college located in Brunswick, Maine, also put a tampon dispenser in the men’s room as part of a free tampon scheme.
According to the college’s student newspaper, Bowdoin Orient, one tampon dispenser in a men’s room was defaced when “someone defecated in the receptacle intended for used products”.
It added that the scheme has had a “generally positive reception”, though according to the Orient “all the tampons and pads in the men’s restroom… were thrown away unused several times”.
Free tampon advocates often argue that toilet paper, soap and paper towels are available in nearly every bathroom free of charge already.
Brown University also tried offering tampons in the men’s room, while students at Cornell University and Syracuse University have also thrown their support behind similar free tampon schemes.
Brown’s student president Viet Nguyen said: “We wanted to set a tone of trans-inclusivity, and not forget that they’re an important part of the population.
“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.”