Feature image credit: Lafayette American 

By: Jenny Chen

I Support the Girls says NO to taxes on medical necessities! On October 9th, over 100 people rallied at the Michigan Capitol to abolish the state’s tax on menstrual hygiene products. The 6% tax burden on these products disproportionately affects people who menstruate, especially those in lower-income families.

I Support the Girls (ISTG) Detroit Affiliate Director, Bekah Page-Gourley, worked closely with many like-minded organizations including PERIOD., Period Equ ity, Helping Women Period, Glasswing Public Affairs, National Diaper Bank Network, Alliance for Period Supplies, and Lafayette American to plan the rally. Advocates and legislators in Michigan have been pushing for the tampon tax to end for years, but they have not been able to gain traction until now.

ISTG-Detroit Affiliate Director’s son advocating for menstrual equity at Michigan rally.

The Growing Disparities Caused by the Tampon Tax

Women already face economic disparities, so adding the tampon tax to their monthly bills is unfair and unjust. Michigan residents–including women, transgender, and nonbinary individuals–should not have to pay an additional tax for taking care of their bodies and health. Menstrual equity is for everyone.

The toll the tampon tax takes on menstruators is undeniable. Without proper access to menstrual hygiene products, lower-income individuals and people experiencing homelessness are forced to make do with the limited resources they have. This means using unhygienic items like rags or toilet paper as a replacement for pads or tampons. Once a month, students often miss school if they do not have access to menstrual hygiene products. The list goes on.

Rally to abolish the Tampon Tax in Lansing, Michigan.

Ending the Tampon Tax 

The October 9th rally capitalized on the growing momentum in the legislature and among the public to highlight the injustice of the tampon tax.

“With this rally, we really had a perfect situation,” Bekah Page-Gourley, ISTG-Detroit Affiliate Director, said. “Activism around this issue has been happening for years, and we’ve finally been able to convince folks that this is a bipartisan issue that helps all Michigan families. This rally was particularly impactful because we knew the issue was finally being talked about, so the timing was ideal.”

The House bills passed on October 14, 2021. If the bills pass in the Senate and are signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, they would exempt tampons, maxipads, reusable menstrual cups, and other menstrual hygiene products from being taxed. Many states have abolished the tampon tax in recent years, and we’re hopeful that Michigan will become the 24th.