AUSTIN — When Nora Greene was confronted with a category task to quantify one thing from her every day life, she determined to measure her interval stream.
The 22-year-old design scholar at the University of Texas at Austin used her menstrual cup to monitor how a lot fluid she produced. She graphed the findings to share together with her class — all in the identify of normalizing durations and the burdens women face each month in consequence.
“Menstruation is such a traditional bodily perform that solely impacts women, who’re nonetheless struggling to outline themselves as equals,” Greene said. “You have this bodily factor that’s so stigmatized, so that you’re additional stigmatizing women.”
For some Texas lawmakers, the stigma of the menstrual cycle extends all the method to the Texas Constitution’s tax code, the place female hygiene merchandise will not be exempt from gross sales and use taxes like different medically essential merchandise.
“I do not know who crafted the tax code, however I can guarantee you that there have been in all probability not very many women there to converse up, so I am talking up now,” stated state Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, who’s one among seven lawmakers who’ve filed a invoice for the upcoming legislative session that might get rid of the gross sales tax on female hygiene merchandise.
“It’s not like we now have a selection,” Garcia said. “We have to go purchase the tampons. We’ve obtained to purchase the Tampax. It’s not like we will or can’t, we now have to do it. It’s medically mandatory and a part of our bodily perform.”
The payments at the Texas Capitol — two in the Senate and 5 in the House — would exempt female hygiene merchandise like pads, tampons and menstrual cups from the gross sales and use tax. One invoice, from state Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, would make them tax exempt solely throughout the recurrently scheduled again to faculty tax vacation.
Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, filed an analogous invoice however stated she hopes to revise it as soon as the session is underway to prolong the exemption yr spherical.
“I want it to be tax exempt, interval,” she said. “I am going to say it yet one more time: no tax, interval.”
Texas expenses a 6.25 % gross sales and use tax on all retail gross sales, and native entities can impose a further tax of up to 2 %. Many medical provides are already exempt, together with glasses, dietary dietary supplements and most drugs.
If female hygiene merchandise have been tax exempt, the state comptroller’s workplace estimates the basic income fund would lose $19.three million in fiscal yr 2018 and $20.four million in 2019.
State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, stated she is worried about the potential impression to the price range however will battle to take away the tax to create a extra equitable system.
“Throughout the system listed here are these inequalities between males and women,” she said. “This is only one small piece of that, however it appears to be principally a no brainer. Anybody can be hard-pressed to recommend that this can be a luxurious merchandise, that that is something however a necessity and an unfair burden upon women. Even if it is in complete a small quantity, we now have to pay the tax.”
For Greene, value was a serious contributing think about her determination to cease utilizing tampons and pads and change to a menstrual cup.
“There are so many execs to menstrual cups,” she said. “They’re good for the surroundings, good for you and less expensive in the long term.”
Democrats are carrying most of the tampon tax payments, however the situation has emerged as a possible trigger for bipartisan help. Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, has filed a invoice outlining a tax exemption and Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, is a co-author on Howard’s invoice.
“I think about this a medical sort of merchandise,” Springer said. “If you determine you are going to go to the retailer and purchase a bottle of water, you are selecting to purchase it. I do not assume that women have the similar thought course of once they go to the retailer to purchase some of these merchandise. It’s a necessity.”
Davis stated she would help a short lived tax exemption, corresponding to the proposal in Guillen’s invoice, if an outright exemption is unsuccessful. But she stated seeing payments from lawmakers on each side of the aisle is promising.
“I truly really feel fairly assured since you’re seeing bipartisan help for it,” Davis said. “You’ve obtained Republicans and Democrats which are on the similar aspect of the challenge; that is sort of uncommon. The governor did say he needs to reduce taxes.”
Women sometimes get their first interval round age 12 and expertise menopause round age 50, according to the federal Office on Women’s Health. When women expertise a daily menstrual cycle, they’ve their interval as soon as each 28 days on common — or as soon as a month. Period lengths range however can final anyplace between two and 7 days.
Population estimates from the Texas Demographic Center present that in 2015 almost 7.four million Texas women have been between the ages of 12 and 50, the common ages throughout which women are doubtless menstruating.
If every one among these women used solely tampons final yr, as an alternative of some other female hygiene product, what number of tampons would Texas women have utilized in 2015?
The Office on Women’s Health recommends women change their tampon as soon as each four to eight hours whereas they’re on their interval. If the common interval lasts three.5 days, that is 84 complete hours of bleeding per lady, per thirty days. If every lady modifications her tampon as soon as each 6 hours, that might be 14 tampons per interval, or 168 tampons yearly.
Using these parameters, one can deduce that the 7.four million women menstruating throughout 2015 collectively used about 1.2 billion tampons.
For context, a 36-count field of normal absorbency Tampax tampons prices $6.97 on a serious grocery chain’s web site.
Obviously this calculation isn’t hermetic, as every lady’s cycle and female hygiene product choice are totally different. But it highlights considerations of many lawmakers, who say women do not select to menstruate and buying female hygiene merchandise is a month-to-month actuality.
“Feminine hygiene merchandise are vital for the good health and well-being of all women of reproductive age,” El Paso Democrat Sen. José Rodríguez, another author of a tax-exemption bill, said in a prepared statement. “By offering a gross sales tax exemption comparable to these already offered for medicine and different requirements corresponding to corrective lenses, needles, blood glucose monitoring check strips, and a few dietary dietary supplements, the laws will help guarantee all Texas women have reasonably priced entry to primary health care merchandise whereas additionally selling gender fairness.”