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Lack of sanitary waste bins an issue for trans men at Langara College

When trans men on campus are on their period, they face an uncomfortable choice of how to dispose of their products

Robin Holmes said a lack of private waste bins for menstrual products in men’s washrooms prevents trans men from experiencing their menstrual cycles with dignity. Photo: Trevor Nault
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Reported by Trevor Nault

Two transgender students at Langara are speaking out about a lack of private waste bins for menstrual products in men’s washroom stalls, an issue that some trans rights activists are saying is receiving public attention for the first time.

Robin Holmes, 21, and Vincent Chorabik, 25, both trans men, told The Voice they feel forced into an embarrassing predicament during their menstrual cycles because men’s washroom stalls don’t provide a means to discard the pads and tampons discreetly.

“If I’m on the cycle, and I go in there, I’m not going to have a place to put that, and no one wants to have to carry it out and throw it into the regular garbage bin,” Holmes said.

Forced to use women’s washroom to properly dispose of waste

Though Holmes, a second-year associate of arts student said he can blend in to use women’s washrooms, he said it doesn’t make sense for him internally.

“It’s like an existential crisis every time I walk up there,” Holmes said.

Chorabik, a fine arts student, laughed at the idea of using women’s washrooms.

“I have an obvious beard,” Chorabik said. “That would just freak people out.”

No formal complaints have been made

Transgender activists Rachel Andrus and Marie Little said they’d never heard of anyone formally complaining about the issue, though Little said she can recall a bar room conversation about the subject.

“It’s fairly cost neutral to put one in each bathroom. Those things are maybe 20 bucks,” Andrus said.

Langara’s facilities manager Raymond Yeung said in an emailed statement he hadn’t heard the need raised before but said the cost of installing the bins would not be “prohibitive”.

He also noted the college was working to update signage on all of the universal washrooms on campus.

Though Holmes understands the goal of campus-wide acceptance and tolerance can seem overwhelming to some, he suggested baby steps.

“This is a great place to start,” Holmes said.

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