Blue America has a page called California-- Not Blue Enough, which includes 13 congressional candidates, 3 incumbents and 10 challengers. State Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia is one of the challengers. Over the years, her male opponents have underestimated her and treated her with disdain, as Robert Garcia, the conservative Republican running against her (as a fake-Democrat) today does. His allies are flooding the deep blue southeast L.A. County district with corporate cash and money from Robert's GOP allies. But Cristina is undaunted. That's how she passed the "impossible" clean air act in the state legislature, one that was mocked by Republicans and conservative Democrats like Robert Garcia but is now the national standard for clean air legislation.
But nothing caused more merriment from the sexist pigs among conservatives than her bill on menstrual products. Both Republicans and conservative Democrats had a big laugh over that one and when it passed Jerry Brown vetoed it. Today-- because Cristina doesn't give up-- it's a law in California.
Usually our guest posts by candidates are about healthcare, Climate Change, the environment, affordable housing, fair taxation, Justice, racial and economic equality, student debt... things we all read about everyday. This week, though, I asked Cristina to share the story of her legislation to make menstrual products tax free, safer and more widely available-- and how she worked across the aisle to persuade every skeptical Democrat and every skeptical Republican to back her. Please read it; you've probably never seen anything like it in a political campaign before. And then consider contributing to Cristina's campaign by clicking on the Progressive Women's ActBlue thermometer on the left (or here). The California primary is June 7, less than a month from now. Let's not wake up on June 8th and find out the only alternative is from a Trump-Republican and a Never-Trump Republican-- not in a district this bright blue.
I Will Never Back Down
-by Cristina Garcia
As a freshman legislator, I told my staff I wanted to end the tax on menstrual products and make them more accessible in schools and public restrooms. It was not right that these products were not in the same category as other ‘necessities.’ While my advisors agreed, the more experienced warned me that I’d face ridicule from men in the Assembly, and I’d become known as "the tampon lady." I told them I didn’t care. It was the right thing to do. The issue of the health and equity for young women was too important to be ignored. And I didn’t come to the Assembly to play it safe, I came to be courageous and use the power of my soap box to elevate issues that didn’t have natural lobby but would better so many people’s lives and health.
So I introduced the AB 1561, first bill in the nation to get rid of the tax on menstrual products. My bill made many folks uncomfortable. I faced a lot of ridicule and I was labeled "The Tampon Queen," but I worked hard to convince members this was a serious matter. Eventually my colleagues came around and the bill was approved unanimously by both the Assembly and the Senate. Every Democrat and every Republican voted yes.
But Governor Brown refused to sign it into law, he somehow continued to think that this was silly and the State’s budget should be balanced on our uterus or that it was "luxury." I made it clear that there was no happy hour for our periods and I didn’t give up. Joined by advocates across the nation, we kept going, and our movement spread. Now, all that hard work and determined advocacy for menstrual equity is paying off.
We have permanently axed the tax on menstrual products in California. All public schools grades 6 to 12, the California State University (CSU) and each California Community College (CCC) are required to stock at least 50% of restrooms with free menstrual products at all times. This helps all people and women who menstruate, but it’s particularly helpful to low income girls who often miss school or wear a product for too long because they can’t afford them and risk infections.
To further protect a menstruator’s health, we have regulated the ingredient disclosures on menstrual products such as tampons, pads, cups, disks, sponges and menstrual underwear.
We started a menstrual product bank at the L.A. and San Diego food banks and are working to expand to 8 other counties.
"The Tampon Queen?" I prefer the "Period Princess." But whatever they call me, you can be certain of one thing: I’ll keep fighting as hard until we fully remove the stigma around our biology and periods and achieve menstrual equity. Spain’s recent move to potentially give medical leave for women who suffer from severe period pain is a natural next step, but while we are at it, let’s also talk about and destigmatize pre-menopause, menopause, and leave for when you miscarry. Just like our periods, these issues are stigmatized and not discussed and lack proper policy and proper research. This is not a coincidence, as long as women don’t have a seat at every table and we lack equality in elected positions, our bodies will be regulated and stigmatized as a way to keep us down and control us, especially our most vulnerable-- black, Latino, indigenous, low income, LGBTQ, rural, immigrant and other marginalized individuals.
Sounds similar, a women’s right to choose when and if to have a family, when and if to have an abortion are under attack for the same reason and will not stop abortions, but will only lead to unsafe abortions and death for our most vulnerable community members-- Black, Latino, indigenous, low income, LGBTQ, rural, immigrant and other marginalized individuals. Reproductive justice is economic justice. Regulating our bodies and forcing low-income women to have children only controls them and keeps them in poverty. I have a lot more I can add on this, but that will have to be another time, but let me just share that as the Chair of the California Legislative Women's Caucus I am working hard with my colleagues to ensure California is a beacon of hope and sanctuary for anyone seeking an abortion, by increasing access and privacy for anyone providing or getting an abortion with a package of 13 bills we introduced in January.
Let me assure you, that I will never back down, I will keep fighting to ensure we remove stigmas around women’s health, all aspects of it, and we truly have full autonomy our bodies in every sense of the word-- even if a few powerful men don’t like it.