The University of Sydney has recently introduced a new policy that now offers tampons and sanitary products in the male bathrooms on campus.
These products can be found in wall-hung dispensers accompanied by a note endorsed by the University of Sydney Union. The note states, “Respecting and supporting our gender-diverse community with free sanitary products for those who need them.” It is worth noting that the products are funded through the Student Services and Amenities Fee, which is paid by all students each semester. Full-time students are expected to contribute $163 per semester towards this fee starting in 2023.
The news of tampons in male bathrooms quickly spread on social media, eliciting a mix of reactions from the public. While some argue that transgender men can still experience menstruation, many others find the decision to be absurd.
Supporters of the initiative argue that providing sanitary products does not harm anyone and emphasize the importance of allowing individuals to live their lives without interference. Some are questioning the availability of free sanitary products for women in various circumstances and asked if similar provisions have been made in female restrooms on campus.
A University spokesperson confirmed that the University of Sydney Union received funding for the initiative and oversaw its implementation, including the placement of the tampons.
According to USU President Cole Scott-Curwood, this initiative is part of a broader effort by the union to enhance student life on campus. Scott-Curwood said it is important to remove barriers to access for all members and ensure that those in need can easily obtain period products. Additionally, the union has expanded its budget to provide various non-food welfare items to students, including these sanitary products.
The decision by the University of Sydney to offer tampons and sanitary products in male bathrooms follows a trend set by several universities in the United States. It arrives at a time of intense debate surrounding all-gender-inclusive bathrooms in Australia.
Women’s activist Kellie Jay Keen has recently sparked controversial discussions throughout the country with her views on the inclusion of transgender individuals in “women-only” spaces such as gendered sports, changing rooms, and public bathrooms. Keen, who arrived from the UK for a speaking tour on the subject, clarified that her primary concern is preventing men from accessing women’s spaces.
‘All that I’m advocating for, is men not to be in women’s spaces. I don’t care how you negotiate that,’ she said.