“I’m taking all this with a grain of salt, but he does seem interested in what I have to say,” says Sims.
The corporal was inspired to begin her vigil following Cruz's meeting with members of the U.S. Marine Corps to discuss their denunciation of a hit piece on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox mocking new flight suits that were designed for pregnant women. The Pentagon responded very negatively toward the piece, leading to Cruz essentially going to bat for the pundit. In response to that and other recent actions by the senator including his flight to Cancun during Winter Storm Uri's power outages, Sims started picketing his house.
She begged him to talk to an actual woman veteran instead of chiding the military brass for being mean to a television personality who doesn’t even live in the state. Following our reporting and an op-ed by Sims in the Houston Chronicle, he finally caved.
Sims reported the meeting as somewhat contentious, but relatively productive. Cruz, well-known as a high-level debater, apparently tried to swing the conversation into other areas, but Sims says she kept him focused on the subject of proper gear for women serving.
“I am trained in debate. I did it in UIL,” she says. “I know what redirection and whataboutism are. I could pick up on when he was trying to do that instead of when he was actually listening to me.”
Sims brought numerous examples of why what the Pentagon was doing for women was a long-overdue change in the way the military outfits its soldiers. She mentioned a friend of hers who was a drill sergeant who had to be benched when she was four months pregnant because she no longer fit properly into her uniform despite the fact that she was perfectly healthy to continue her duties until the third trimester.
The talk turned to the larger problem of how the military often just doesn’t consider the specific aspects of being a woman when instructing regulations. One of the more ridiculous aspects Sims brought up was the fact that women with long hair have to use an elaborate styling guide that includes wrapping a bun around a sock and using bobby pens and hair spray to make sure there are no flyaways. In addition to being a tremendous pain in the ass, it also prevents helmets from fitting right.
“I told him, ‘we don’t want special treatment. We just want to be women in uniform,”” she says. “Every woman in the Marines I served with wanted to do just get to work. Why are you siding with someone who is mocking us for wanting gear to do our jobs? They are trying to cancel our gender. You’d think conservatives would be against that.”
The two found some common ground, particularly on Cruz’s support of a bill to remove sexual assault investigations from the chain of command. He is one of the few Republicans to do so. However, according to Sims the senator repeatedly tried to bring the conversation around to the subject of trans people. He also gave Sims the impression that his support of women in the military is still very conditional.
“He sees this as being a war about gender,” she says. “Women are good as long as they stay in their place. We need better ways to serve. You can’t side with Carlson sneering and laughing at women. I don’t care if it’s PC. He’s looking for his next culture war, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be how squeamish people are about men and women working together.”
Still, Sims is satisfied with the meeting, and no longer plans to sit outside Cruz’s home. At least one major Republican donor has anonymously told Sims that he will no longer be contributing to Cruz over the issue, and Sims says she may still run against Cruz in the next election if he doesn’t take her points to heart.
“My protest is not political,” says Sims. “He was arguing in abstract. He was convinced the Pentagon was being influenced by wokeness. It’s not about that. It’s about how we serve. The last thing we want is a quota, but basic things like “can we pee quicker” seems very reasonable. I don’t know if it will change concretely, but he knows we’re watching now. What I want from him is to not make us political pawns in whatever debate they want to have about trans people. I’m not here to rock the boat, but I don't want people asking me to bail out when there is plenty of room.”