Ireland’s parliament wins praise for putting period products in men’s toilets

A picture of tampons.

Period products are now available in the men’s toilets in Ireland’s parliamentary buildings – in a move activists say will help all people who menstruate.

Irish Independent political editor Philip Ryan posted a picture on Twitter of a tampon dispenser in the men’s toilets in Leinster House, home to Ireland’s parliament.

The tweet attracted massive attention, with some anti-trans commentators using it as an opportunity to push “gender critical” talking points.

Many others praised the Irish parliament for taking the inclusive step, pointing out it will make life easier for trans and non-binary people.

Wider availability of period products erases stigma

A spokesperson for Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin told PinkNews “everyone who menstruates should have easy access to menstrual products without shame or stigma”.

“The inclusion of menstrual products in the men’s bathroom in Leinster House means trans men and non-binary people who menstruate can access them instead of going into the women’s bathroom if they don’t feel comfortable doing so,” the spokesperson said.

Adding: “Trans people are more likely to experience poverty and be in low paying jobs which means many trans people who menstruate may not have the money to buy products.”

Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin also pointed out the move will be beneficial for cis men “who may be fathers, uncles, brothers or friends to people who menstruate”.

Menstruation ‘still considered a dirty and shameful thing to talk about’.

More than anything, Trans and Intersex Pride Dublin hopes the move will help destigmatise menstruation.

“By having menstrual products in the men’s bathroom it also breaks the silence of a taboo subject.

“Menstruation happens to half of the world’s population but is still considered a dirty and shameful thing to talk about. Hopefully by having these products freely and easily available we can begin to have open and honest conversations about menstruation.”

Tina Kolos Orban, CEO of the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), told PinkNews having period products available more widely benefits people of “all genders”.

“Period poverty leads to the exclusion of girls, intersex, trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people from activities of daily life during menstruation,” Orban said.

“For intersex, trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people menstruation already can cause anxiety which only heightens when they have to shop for a product that is for women.

“The cost of menstruation products hits all but could hit trans people even harder due to experiencing poverty, unemployment and underemployment at higher rates.

“While these products are sometimes available without cost in women’s restrooms, those who menstruate and feel more comfortable using male restrooms will almost never have access to free tampons and pads.”

Period products in men’s toilets helps ease trans people’s anxiety

Ruadhán Ó Críodáin, executive director of LGBTQ+ organisation ShoutOut, said he was “delighted” to see period products in the men’s toilets in Leinster House.

“Some trans men and non-binary people have periods and will need to avail of these products,” Ó Críodáin said.

He also pointed out the inclusion of period products in spaces such as men’s toilets sends a message to trans men and non-binary people that it’s a safe space for them.

We hope more buildings, including schools, will follow suit.

Críodáin says: “That’s a reassuring message when you’re entering [a] gendered facility as a trans person and might be anxious about harassment, violence, or being challenged just for trying to use the toilet – which unfortunately happens all too often.

“We hope more buildings, including schools, will follow suit and ensure all toilets have period products and sanitary bins for anyone who might need them, as well as ensuring trans and non-binary people have safe access to whichever bathroom is most comfortable for them.”

A spokesperson for the Oireachtas told PinkNews it moved to make period products more widely available on the foot of expert recommendations.

“In response to motions moved in the Dáil and Seanad in 2019 by the Women’s Caucus; recommendations in the report of the forum on a family friendly and inclusive parliament; and observations on the forum’s report by the Oireachtas LGBTQ+ group, the facilities management unit have made free period products available in a selection of bathrooms across the Leinster House complex,” the spokesperson said.

“The locations are primarily aimed at visitors which often include school groups but also are available to the wider community. This measure furthers the aim of creating a more inclusive parliament and will be of benefit to the parliamentary community and visitors.”