Overly-girly feminine products and the lack thereof that are provided in men’s restrooms is unfair to the transgender community.
Opinion by Sarah Best, News Editor
Women who have transitioned to men still undergo the same monthly inconvenience of menstruating and the bathroom they choose should not be compromised due to a lack of feminine products provided in men’s restrooms.
The opening of the noisy, plastic package in the privacy of a stall draws unwanted attention from gender-conforming men who don’t fully accept or understand the sensitivity of such circumstances and is even an issue that happens in women’s bathrooms as well. It doesn’t help that tampons and pads are hyper-feminine with their pink wrappers and girly patterns, only adding to the possibility of unnecessary persecution and judgement. And as if the crinkling of the plastic wrapper doesn’t draw enough unwanted attention as it is, men’s restrooms do not house the small trash cans to dispose of the period products, warranting them to be thrown out in trash cans outside of the stall where one’s vulnerability and potential of being harassed is heightened even further.
“Homophobia is powerful and homophobia isn’t just the fear of gay men, it’s the fear of anything that’s outside the norm of hetero normativity,” explained Valley sociology professor and specialist in gender Sally Raskoff. “Transgender men who would need that [period products] are the ones who understand it the best and most of us are not aware that those people are anywhere, much less here on campus.”
Conservative journalist Savanah Hernandez paraded around the Women’s March shouting that “Only women can get periods.” She defended her statement as being a biological fact that things like menstruation and pregnancy are struggles exclusively to women. Despite Hernandez’s comment being true in the most narrow-minded micro-sense, the bigger picture is that women who have transitioned to men identify as men and they still menstruate. Saying that only women can get periods is a purposeful and belittling disregard for the transitioned women who now identify as male.
Kenny Ethan Jones has made his mark in this area, according to his Instagram bio, “Made history fronting a period campaign.” Jones, being a trans man himself, is well-rounded on the wants and needs of the transgender community and is constantly advocating for the advancement of their rights while educating others about how to be a “trans-ally.” The British model has brought what is arguably the most initial and impactful amount of attention to what periods are like for trans men and the overall lack of healthcare provided to the entire trans community.
“Having a period already causes me a lot of [gender] dysphoria,” said the 25-year-old London native in an interview with NBC. “But this dysphoria becomes heightened when I have to shop for a product that is labeled as ‘women’s health’ and in most cases, is pretty and pink.”
Given the circumstances of this contemporary and controversial enigma, progressive institutions like Syracuse University and Cornell have already validated such accommodations and are among the few universities nationwide that have implemented pads and tampons in the men’s restrooms on campus according to TheCollegeFix.com.
Raskoff added, “I see this as an equity issue. They [transgender men] need things. Everybody needs something, but people in disadvantaged groups need more things to be normalized and to have things like bathrooms to feel safe in. So putting women’s products in there isn’t necessarily going to take us a huge way towards safety and acceptance but it’s like a toe in the door.”
Menstrual product companies like Always have taken the feminine symbols off of their packaging in an effort to be more inclusive as they understand that periods are no longer unique to women. Though the overly-feminine packaging of menstrual products is not something that is within Valley’s power to change, putting them in the men’s restrooms is fully within their jurisdiction. The bathroom a Valley student, or any person for that matter, chooses to use should not have to be compromised due to lack of readily available products.
“It seems that that would be the next step in normalizing and accepting transgender people who have always been around and there are transgender men who would need those things,” said Raskoff.