Tampon Anarchy?

The Absurdity of Tenessee Lawmaker’s Objections to Tax-Free Menstrual Products


Photo courtesy of: F McGady/ Wikimedia Commons

In the Tennessee statehouse, certain lawmakers are arguing against a bill that would eliminate sales taxes on menstrual products during the state’s annual tax-free weekend. “I come to you today with a very small plea: that we take the tax off these products for just one weekend,” Sen. Sara Kyle said.

By Nadya Ellerhorst, Walnut Hills High School

Certain state lawmakers in Tennessee are currently arguing against a bill that would eliminate sales taxes on menstrual products during the state’s annual tax-free weekend. Their main point of contention? The removal of the tax would cause the products to be bought in bulk, resulting in significant revenue loss for the state.

Yes, because if you knock a few dozen cents off a box of Playtex, people will storm their local Walmarts in total tampon anarchy.

Tennessee has a state sales tax of 7%, and combined with local tax rates, menstruators pay anywhere from an additional 8.5% to 9.75% on products that are inarguably necessary.

The forerunner of bill SB 1724, Sen. Sara Kyle, claims that the proposed legislation to put a brief pause on the “tampon tax” would result in a loss of $133,000, which pales in comparison to Tennessee’s $40 billion budget.

The fact that the dissent stems from the prospect of lifting Tennessee’s tampon tax for three days, while states across the United States progress towards completely abolishing the taxation of menstrual products, is frankly sickening.

According to a study commissioned by Thinx, a manufacturer of blood-absorbent underwear, and PERIOD, an organization devoted to “menstrual equity,” 20% of teenagers “have struggled to afford period products or were not able to purchase them at all.” What’s more, 84% “have either missed class time or know someone who missed class time because they did not have access to period products.”

With Tennessee’s tax free weekend targeted at school supplies, the objecting lawmakers must take into account the above statistics. In keeping with the view of Period Equity co-founder Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, who’s to say that period products don’t constitute school supplies when lack of access clearly impacts students. Just as you can’t take notes without a pen and paper, many can’t go to school without tampons or pads.

Indeed, if the shelves of feminine hygiene aisles were to empty on Tennessee’s tax-free weekend, perhaps the direness of the issue of menstrual equity would finally be conveyed.

To these objecting lawmakers, I ask: is barring citizens from easier access to products they need to function worth $133,000?

If the answer is no, I hope it to be a sign that Tennessee is starting to join the national fight for menstrual equity.

If the answer is yes, the future looks bleak for menstruators in The Volunteer State.

This story was originally published on The Chatterbox on February 20, 2020.