Menstrual products for all

On too many occasions my stomach has dropped when I realize that I started my period but forgot to bring a tampon. Occasionally, bathrooms have vending machines, but these take quarters which I never carry. So, I end up asking a friend or, on the horrific occasion, a complete stranger. This all too common scenario should not be a moment of horror or embarrassment, and it should not be happening on Trinity campus.

All Trinity bathrooms, regardless of gender, should be supplied with menstrual products because the last thing students need to worry about is their period. Even for those who are outwardly feminine, it is difficult and awkward to ask someone for a pad or tampon. For those who present masculine, it is even harder. Only supplying women’s bathrooms with menstrual products excludes people with periods who use men’s bathrooms from accessing products they need.

In the past, the Student Government Association (SGA) tried bringing menstrual products to bathrooms, but a lack of volunteers halted the initiative. Last December, Ella Charbonnet, first-year SGA senator, single-handedly reintroduced tampons to Trinity’s women’s bathrooms. Charbonnet distributed bundles of tampons to each women’s bathroom on campus using three cases of tampons leftover from the past initiative. Charbonnet plans to expand her tampon distribution forces as more senators volunteer to help.

Currently, Charbonnet is limited to only supplying women’s bathrooms. I believe if SGA expands its tampon distribution initiative, consideration should be made for those who are trans-masculine and use men’s bathrooms so everyone will have equal access to the reproductive care they deserve. This can be made possible by including volunteers who can access men’s bathrooms. However, students alone should not have to carry the burden of supplying their own bathrooms with the supplies they need.

Trinity’s custodial services should be responsible for equipping all bathrooms with menstrual products because they are as necessary a component in bathrooms as soap or toilet paper. Neglecting this aspect of hygiene is neglecting to recognize reproductive health and continues the incredulous convention that periods should be kept secret and discreet.

Currently, tampons are placed in bundles sitting on restroom counters. While these bundles are respected in women’s restrooms, the same may not be true for men’s restrooms, where they could be vandalized. So, pad and tampon vending machines should be installed in all bathrooms. If it is not possible to make these vending machines free of charge, the machines should accept Tiger Bucks as it is naive to believe that students carry quarters around campus.

Asking for period products should not be considered a luxury, but a necessity. Having access to menstrual products is essential to reproductive health, and this access should not be exclusive to those who use women’s bathrooms. Only supplying menstrual products to women’s bathrooms is outdated and follows a binary approach to gender that excludes and potentially harms an entire population of people who have periods. Therefore, Trinity University’s custodial services should assume the responsibility of supplying menstrual products to all bathrooms on campus.