A letter to Governor Newsom

To Governor Gavin Newsom:

Our golden state holds a scarlet letter–the tampon tax. For years, we’ve prided ourselves on our progressive legislature and balancing class inequalities, but this glaring flaw still exists.

Menstrual products are taxed as a luxury, unlike exempt items deemed necessities such as food products, Viagra, and candy. In our state’s eyes, menstrual products are luxuries that women easily live without; at some point, reality clearly disconnected from our legislature.

What exactly does this tax mean for our state?

Take Los Angeles, a California city with a homeless population exceeding 55,000 people. Once a month, the female portion of this group enters a crisis as they struggle to determine which necessities deserve a slice of their limited budget. Few choose to purchase pads and tampons in lieu of medicines promoting their physical and emotional well-being or food filling their empty stomachs. For this reason, multitudes of women endure an entire week of egregious hygiene and public embarrassment.

With upwards of 19.5 million women inhabiting California, this issue pertains to more individuals than not. Yet, when election season rolls around, I am pained to watch as attempts to beat down the gender-specific tax fail year after year.

Year after year, I continue to visit the store only to cringe as my total climbs higher and higher with our base 7.25% state sales tax.

Periods, unfortunately, do not stop for any woman or reason. Once a month, about half of the world counts on a visit from “Aunt Flow,” yet the topic remains too taboo for widespread discussion. The scene in our state government is no different.

In 2016, California Assemblymember Cristina Garcia attempted to make California one of ten other US states to abolish the tampon tax with bill AB 1561. Unfortunately, despite widespread support and passage in the Assembly and Senate, AB 1561 died under former Governor Jerry Brown’s veto.

Shocking, a male vote shut down unanimous support from California leaders to put an end to the only gender-specific tax plaguing our state.

Every girl learns the exorbitant cost of periods around age thirteen. One day, your young daughter will too learn the price all women must pay once a month until menopause.

The cost to manufacture and sell menstrual products cannot be completely diminished, but that’s not an expectation I hold. I simply wish to enjoy the iconic California sunshine knowing millions of women do not pay unfair taxes simply for being women.

In December of 2018, Assemblymember Garcia proposed a new bill, AB 31, to reintroduce the idea of crushing the California tampon tax once and for all. AB 31 adds sanitary napkins, tampons, menstrual sponges, and menstrual cups to the list of nontaxable necessities. The bill already passed through the State Assembly unopposed, so I have one request for you, Mr. Governor. When you find the bill on your desk, do not make the same mistake as your predecessor once did.

Do not veto the bill.


Maddie Ward