Stop the Stigma Against Menstruation; Starting with the Bar Exam


Professor Elizabeth Cooper, faculty director of the Feerick Center for Social Justice, co-authored an article on upcoming bar exams around the country and the ban on bringing in one’s own menstrual products to the exam.

Distrust of people who menstruate needs to stop. For too long, menstruation has been an after-thought or something to be ignored and hidden. This long-standing taboo against those who bleed monthly results in cruel policies and practices. For example, decisionmakers have allegedly fired employees who leak during their cycle. People who are incarcerated have worn blood-stained clothing because they do not have free access to appropriate menstrual products. Students have been denied necessary bathroom breaks or have had to use code names for menstrual products. And it means 30+ states continue to charge an unconstitutional sales tax despite a nationwide campaign against taxing menstrual products.

The distrust of menstruators is front and center with the July bar exams that take place next week, and those that follow. The multi-day bar exam is the legal licensing requirement needed to practice law and is understandably extremely stressful. Imagine adding to this pressure a ban on bringing in one’s own menstrual products or uncertainty about the ability to do so because a state does not expressly or publicly disclose if they are permitted. Outraged over state bars’ menstrual products restrictions, people started exchanging the information on Twitter.

Many people taking bar exams in the coming months—women, transgender men, and nonbinary persons—will be menstruating. It is critical that they have access to their own menstrual products. Menstrual products are not “one size fits all.” Persons who menstruate require different sizes and levels of absorbency in their products to best fit their body and menstrual flow. This is why products come in different sizes and absorbency levels. Use of the wrong size can lead to everything from pain and discomfort to toxic shock syndrome (if too large) and time-consuming, disruptive leaks (if too small). Further, some individuals require hypoallergenic products to protect against allergic reactions. If not provided, applicants may experience vaginal itching or other problems caused by inserting allergen-containing tampons or pads inside or adjacent to their bodies.

Read the full article.


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