Demystifying Monkeypox

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Hello and welcome to Outward Slate’s podcast about queer culture, politics and surgery, as you can do in a bar. I am Christina Cauterucci, a senior writer at Slate, and I’m Jules Gill-Peterson, professor by day, surgeon by night.

Brian Lauder: And I’m Brian Lauder. I am a surgeon of words. I get at it, I edit outward.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: So this month, as in I feel like many of our episodes, we kind of accidentally ended up with a theme. We are taking a look at two stories about queer health care past and present. First, actually, the present, we are going to talk about monkeypox, the virus that’s endemic to Central and West Africa and is now spreading. It’s everywhere else, mostly among queer men and trans women who have sex with men will be joined by a sex educator and health advocate from the UK who’s recovering from Monkey Pox to talk about how gays are grappling with the stigma and the fear and the government fumbles that seem to recall the early days of the AIDS crisis and also contain echoes of the early days of the COVID pandemic in important and disturbing ways.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Then I’m really excited about this segment. We’re going to chat with Io Dodds, who recently wrote a fascinating and just really sweet piece in The Independent about two trans women in the early 2000 who ran a clinic performing work yesterdays that’s testicle removal out of a barn in Washington State. I’m so excited to have I want to talk about that incredible history. But first we have a thought and query for our thoughts and queries segment. A listener wrote in with this question, I’m going to read it and I am curious to hear what you’ll have to say about it. Hopefully we’ll have June weigh in, too, because I think that she would be an important voice on this topic.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: So here’s the query. I happen to be the son of an immigrant who remained a British citizen for a decade after I was born. It appears that I can apply for UK citizenship and my husband could apply after I am a citizen. Should I pursue dual citizenship just in case the Supreme Court attacks gay rights? I’m mulling the pros and cons. The UK is very gay friendly. We could easily sell our house paid for for more than triple the average cost of a house in England outside of London. Oh my God. In this six months ago, I would have never considered moving. But the latest news is disconcerting. Beyond that, a recent trip to Scandinavia proved to me that Europeans are much happier than we Americans are. It’s been a bit depressing coming back to a country where everyone is angry at each other all the time. All the time. It seems extreme to consider moving out of the country. On the other hand, things could change quickly.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Is dual citizenship worth pursuing as a no pun intended Plan B? Any thoughts? Paranoid or prudent? What do you guys have to say? Well, I mean, I am an immigrant to this United States from another one of the British empires in glorious relics, Canada. You know, it’s very complicated, right? It’s like I have no plans to move to the UK any time soon. Doesn’t seem like a very friendly place for trans people. And you know, the current political crisis going on there and the replacement of the Conservative Party leader has seemed to have led to this kind of pissing contest on the part of leadership candidates to prove who could be the most anti LGBT possible.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: So, you know, honey, don’t pack your bags just yet. I have to say, maybe because I’m like descended from immigrants and also am one myself. You know, I see these kinds of I see tweets all the time to you that are like time to make your exit plan. And I’m like, Oh, okay. Well, y’all have never actually been an immigrant before because the rest of the world is not just like, Oh, we love you should come hang out here. It’s incredibly impossible. It’s really expensive. Most people are disqualified from immigrating for lots of absurd, arbitrary, racist and ableist reasons.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: So I don’t know. I wouldn’t put all the eggs in that basket, but. But maybe more to the point, June might have to weigh in on this, too. But it’s like I grew up in a part of Canada that has weather very similar to a lot of England. And I just I don’t know. I mean, that’s the best part. Well, aren’t that one thing that a public jails in America, at least under the blazing hot climate in this time. And so.

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Brian Lauder: Yeah, good point.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Pick your poison.

Brian Lauder: Yeah.

Speaker 3: Yeah.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Julian, what do you think? So, Jules, I. Everything you said has been absolutely true for some of us. The freezing cold weather is.

Speaker 3: Actually a plus. It’s. That’s.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: You’re like sweater day, like. Yeah, yeah. You need the cold. Yeah. You know, optionality is the ultimate privilege. And when we say privilege, we have to go a little. Ooh. But, you know, if if you got it, you use it, especially, you know, if you’re a marginalized person in one form or another. I do think.

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Speaker 3: Though, that the bar for reaching yourself, it’s really high just because.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: I think a lot of people cannot.

Speaker 3: Imagine.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: You know, what it means to we live in an age now where if you go somewhere, you can go back.

Speaker 3: Probably.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Possibly. Certainly people with privilege can.

Speaker 3: You know, if you come in a boat.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: You have a lot less a lot fewer options. You know, you will be saying goodbye to your friends, to your family, to, you know, all of the support systems that you have. Our letter writer does indeed.

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Speaker 3: Have an option of.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Moving to Britain, apparently, but is still going to cost a lot of money. It’s going to be a huge op. He will it’s going to be just more.

Speaker 3: Anxiety and stress than you.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Think it will be. Not saying don’t do it, not saying it’s a terrible idea, but just have a realistic sense of what’s involved and kind of what your what your motivation is.

Brian Lauder: The only thing I would add to that, which is all I think why is incorrect, is just that, you know, my my partner actually is an anthropologist. He does research or he has done research other on people trying to get citizenship to Spain. There was a return law for people of Jewish descent that was passed there a number of years ago. And just to say that the process for these things, even when you’re like invited to come and this this the letter writer here is saying that there’s like an option to pursue citizenship. I think even in cases where, like, if the state wants you to come, it’s like incredibly difficult and it takes forever and yet so expensive and all the things everyone has said. So maybe something to pursue while you go about your life and just see how long it actually takes. But I would not count on it is like an escape plan, you know.

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Brian Lauder: Indeed, my feeling about this question more broadly is like we need to, especially folks of privilege, need to think about how we can ally with our communities here and resist and find ways of protecting each other in the face of state attacks as much as possible. And so I would think about it that way, not as an escape plan, but maybe as just an option to pursue. But. But not it. Not something to count on.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Yeah. My wife and I actually have had a disagreement about this because I may be able to get Italian citizenship based on I have to figure out exactly when my great grandparents, like naturalized. I mean, even in that moment and before the 2020 election, when Amy Coney Barrett came on the court, it wasn’t clear who was going to get elected. And honestly, for me, it’s less like will my marriage survive and more guns? Like, I don’t want to get shot by like a militia. Like, yeah, like anti-gay militia, like Christian nationalist mobs. And I feel like that’s becoming more and more of a possibility. My wife more says what you’re saying, Brian, which is like, actually, we have a responsibility to stay here and be part of protecting people against what’s going to come.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: And I kind of feel like, well, what are we really doing? Like if we moved to another country, we could still send money. We could still do our jobs, which like our jobs actually feel like the main way that we’re sort of contributing to whatever sort of like progressive resistance we can put up. People should do whatever feels right for them. I like you, Jules.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: I’m not convinced that England is much more LGBT friendly than the U.S., but it certainly has fewer guns, and you’re less likely to be killed by somebody who is a homophobe or transphobic because there are fewer guns. So I would not judge this listener for whatever they decide. And you know what? If you have a passport that gets you through the customs line faster when you travel like that seems like a benefit worthy enough if you have the money to pursue dual citizenship.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Thank you so much to this listener, though, very, very sincerely. It’s it’s a sign of the times that these are questions and conversations that now we’re all having in different degrees. And if you’d like to send us your feedback, your advice, questions, maybe a voice memo or just an email you can write to us at our podcast at Slate.com.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: All right. Well, it is time, as per USU, for our pinkies, our prides and provocations. So why don’t I throw it over to you, Brian, first?

Brian Lauder: Sure. So we recently and my house, I’m sorry to say, got discovery. Plus yet another stupid streaming service that we don’t need. But I thought we needed it because I wanted to watch Trixie, Mattel, which is Trixie Mattel, the drag queens on a Palm Springs hotel renovation show. Also sorry to say that is not very good, but it is really just really boring.

Brian Lauder: But the other night we stumbled upon something that I think maybe made up for like the 499. But this does cost us. It is a show called Conjuring Kasha, and it is my pride. And let me tell you why. So this is a show that is hosted indeed by Kesha, the pop superstar who apparently during the pandemic leaned really hard into the will and I think had kind of a spooky podcast going already. But now on the show, she and her famous friends like Big Freedia and Betty, who are bouncing around notorious, spooky places looking for ghosts and demons and Bigfoot.

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Brian Lauder: It’s kind of excellent. I was kind of shocked by how excellent it is. It has, like, the goth, campy blood of Dracula, which is a show that I’ve talked about on the pod before. Injected into one of those really super boring, stray paranormal investigation shows like on the Sci-Fi Channel that are horrible. Kesha is serving looks like multiple looks per episode, and she’s actually this kind of great reality TV figure who’s both like heavily medicated and totally committed to the bit. Like at the same time.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: We are.

Brian Lauder: Like already in the first episode she has like the classic sidebar with the producer where she’s like, Things are getting too real. I don’t know if I’m going to like, stay like that, like that perfect thing.

Brian Lauder: Okay. So normally this wouldn’t have risen to the level of price, but in the first episode, the guest is the comedian and actor Whitney Cummings. There is a queer swerve that I was really not expecting. Okay, so they’re in an abandoned prison, which is for proper reasons that we have discussed on the part as well. But putting that aside, Whitney is in this room trying to talk to her presence that the guest expert who is a demon ologist like super sketchy dude says is of course, is a demon. But using the equipment where you can like ask questions of the presence and sort of.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Create that equipment, the various.

Brian Lauder: Technologies that are special to the Whitney. And I think she is quite seriously determined that she thinks that she is talking to a trans girl. Wow. Now, I don’t want to, like, spoil this because the way she does this is kind of interesting. And and I know, like out of context, it maybe sounds iffy or even offensive. And I know people disagree with me about this because, I mean, no, my experience was that she and the show took this really seriously and that she was not making a joke about it.

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Brian Lauder: And I looked her up. She’s apparently pretty well known for being a really outspoken ally, actually, of queer people and trans people. So there’s more evidence to this case. But she she has like a conversation in a way, like with this presence and is very moved by it and really is convinced that it’s a transvestite. And in the midst of this otherwise kind of crazy, campy thing, it’s this really kind of earnest moment. And so I’m curious for other people to watch it. I was sort of shocked and then very moved by it. And it was a type of queer inclusion that I have never seen before.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Like meaning ghost represented everything and.

Brian Lauder: I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know that I wanted it in my life. But here it is. And so I’m going to give it. Yeah. A tentative pride conjuring Kesha on Discovery for the second time.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Starz color me extremely skeptical, but I will give it a watch.

Brian Lauder: I understand. But you will your skepticism will put out the window with this.

Brian Lauder: All right, Christina, everybody.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: So I hope this is kosher. I’m actually doing a self pride. I’m proud of something that I did last month. So my niece is in kindergarten. She’s a Daisy Girl Scout. She’s one of the lights of my life. And last month in her Girl Scout troop, one of the options for these little patches you can earn was a pride patch. So my sister asked me as sort of the leading homosexual in my niece’s life if I would want to do these activities with her. There’s like a whole list. You can you have to pick three to earn the patch. So of course I said yes. And then we decided to open it up to the rest of her troop in case there were other. Honestly, the vibe was a little bit like maybe if there’s like stray parents who kind of want someone else to explain all this stuff to their kids, I find them optimism and I’ll do it for them. And then they get to earn this little patch.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: You know, I’m not sure whether the kids have other queers in their lives. I’m sure some of them do. But based on what my sister said, I think a lot of them probably don’t and like maybe had hadn’t like had a queer role model in their lives. Anyway, I’m not ashamed to say that I killed the assignment and I made a whole PowerPoint where we had one slide for every letter of the acronym with a photo of a famous person that embodied that identity. And we talked about what it meant.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: I also made sure they knew what straight meant because straight incest people also have. It sounds like you guys think of anybody you know who straight where. It’s like a woman falls in love with a man and they’re like, mom and dad. And I was like, Yeah, yeah. Not grim. One of them could be by, I don’t know. But like, yeah, there, you know, that’s straight. Like ask your parents if they’re by William, right? I also read them a book based on a true story about gay penguins at the Central Park Zoo who, like.

Brian Lauder: Can I make.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Three? Yeah. And they like, oh my God, on a little rock because they thought it was an egg. And then it didn’t pan out. But then they got a real egg and they became great dads. Anyway, I also had them look at the art of Keith Haring, which is actually like really accessible for children. And I had them draw a little forgery of some of his artwork, and we talked about what a great artist he was and how much he cared about his community. And it was just honestly, it worked my brain a lot to be like, how do I explain pride and the need for pride to kids without sort of reinforcing that? Like, we’re like different and what’s and like, weird or like we were discriminated against and still are, but we shouldn’t be. So I was just kind of like, we’re different in a good way. Like, differences are amazing and like, most people are straight and we’re queer and trans.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: And so this is our month where we get to have a parade and dance and like have an amazing time and it’s super fun. The kids were so sweet. I had the best time. I think it was a great idea on my sister’s part to do this. And I’m hoping even though the kids were super young and I’m not sure how much they really grasped, I feel like it could be the kind of thing where it just like opens the door such that when they or their parents encounter LGBTQ stuff out in the world, they can be like, Oh yeah, I remember that lady did that presentation. It was like what she was talking about.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: One very convenient truth is that the kid’s favorite movie right now, most of them is Encanto, and the lead character is voiced by Stephanie Beatriz, a real life bisexual. So I was like, Cool here, loves and can’t. And they’re like, I was like, Yeah, well, first of all, do you know that cartoons have real people doing the voices behind them? I feel like I introduce them to a lot of new concepts, but yeah, I just hope that it it made them feel a little bit like, Oh yeah, I kind of understand now why I’m seeing all this rainbow stuff around. And, um, it was really fun.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Jules, what about you? How are you feeling this month? I am feeling proud. Yeah, we’re all. You know, we are a little bit late in life, but, you know, better late than never. So I am proud. In a funny way, I this is kind of vicarious on multiple levels. I’m proud of Umbrella Academy Star and just some regular hot guy, Elliot Page, and I’m proud of him for truly breaking Jordan Peterson without even having to lift a finger or do a damn thing.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Which aside, it seems like Jordan Peterson is pretty breakable these days. But, you know, if you don’t if you don’t know who Jordan Peterson is, he is, you know, this ostensible or once professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, I’m ashamed to share the country of Canada with him. Kind of made a name for himself on the far right, peddling totally nonsense, really bad, anti-intellectual kind of work. And that, you know, among other things, telling men to clean their rooms. But, you know, Peterson also kind of made a name for himself by just straight up making up untrue things about certain human rights legislation in Canada and pretending that, you know, there was going to be some gender pronoun police and it’s just a rapidly anti trans person, you know, who also, like, you know, promotes an all beef diet and other kind of fun things.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: There are plenty of other podcasts you can go to listen about Jordan Peterson in greater detail. But, you know, he’s among this sort of crew of right wing grifters and pundits who have really tried to make something of the post banning of Donald Trump on Twitter. And, you know, maybe this moment when Elon Musk was going to try and buy Twitter anyways, like many other right wing ideologues, Peterson tweeted very intentionally and egregiously trying to detonate Elliot Page and, you know, just make up totally bonkers ideas about what it means to be trans. And then was surprisingly because it occasionally happens one out of a million times was suspended by Twitter.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Okay, whatever. And then, you know, proceeded to double down on that in the most hilarious, hysterical way possible, claiming that, you know, he would rather die than take that tweet back, but then dead because he’s back on Twitter and also has taken to posting these very bizarre like direct to the camera videos where he’s like sitting in a weird suit and just like absolutely ranting and very disturbing and kind of like fascistic sort of tones about various topics. You know, often including trans people. It’s really bizarre. Jordan Peterson is in his fourth era. You know, according to many when and during any interview, he will just absolutely start bawling his eyes out at the drop of a pin. And I just want to say, I’m so proud of Elliot Page to do nothing. Never interacted with this guy. Said not a thing.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Right. And has successfully brought about the self-destruction of this absolute joke of a public figure. So how do you. Elliott, thank you for this little gift that is just like raw trans power. Like just by existing. I’m telling you, like, a little time at the gym, a little testosterone, some surgery later. And we are bringing down some of the titans of the far right. I mean, like, hello? Any more proof that trans people are the best I can think of any?

Brian Lauder: All right. So if we needed any more evidence that we were living in the worst possible timeline today, we get the pleasure of talking about Monkeypox. By now, you’ve almost certainly heard that there is another virus on top of COVID that we have to worry about. And it’s currently spreading predominantly in our community among men who have sex with men and trans folks who have sex with men, though it almost certainly won’t stay that way. Now, this isn’t a medical show, and so we’re not going to get too much into the details of the virus. We are going to link to some coverage of public health guidance on our show page if you want more of that info. But just so everybody has the basics, Monkeypox is not technically an SGI, but it does spread easily through close contact like sex, and it causes flu like symptoms and painful lesions and those who are infected, there’s no specific treatment for it, aside from a really long 3 to 4 week isolation period. But there are antivirals that seem to be helping a long recovery in some cases.

Brian Lauder: The current outbreak seems to emerge mid-spring from certain gatherings in Europe. This is according to CDC surveillance, and it’s now growing rapidly across sort of everywhere else, but especially in the US, in urban and gay states like New York, California and Florida. The good news here is that there is a vaccine that can help prevent infection and limit the severity even after a suspected exposure. But the rollout of that vaccine in the U.S. has been pretty much a disaster so far. Doctors are having to Google at Monkeypox even is and public health departments are being overwhelmed with requests compared to the limited amount of doses that the federal government has been very slow to release so far.

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Brian Lauder: Thankfully, mid-July, which isn’t a recording it seems like that’s not true, is finally starting to get worked out a little bit. But just as an example, the week we’re recording now in New York City, where I live, a tranche of I think 150 appointments was released at a very much promoted time on this past Tuesday, only for the website, which was horribly designed to completely crash. And so no one could get at any of the appointments people were on for like 2 hours clicking, clicking, refreshing, refreshing, refreshing. Like getting into the code of the page to figure out what was going on. And it was a disaster. Horrible. The situation, of course, raised a whole mass of questions about our crumbling public health system here in the U.S. and equitable access to resources. The appointment time was in the middle of the day. It’s like, do you have the time to to click for 2 hours? Right. Like all kinds of questions about that. And unsurprisingly, many gay and by men are drawing troubling comparisons to the early days of the AIDS crisis from this experience as well.

Brian Lauder: Okay, so that’s a lot to talk about to help us with that. We wanted to hear from someone who has been outspoken about his own personal experience with Monkeypox and who, because of his work in HIV advocacy, has thought about some of the larger issues connected to this outbreak. Harun Tulunay lives in London and has been speaking to the press and tweeting through his recovery process. Herrin Welcome to our we’re so excited for you to join us.

Speaker 4: Oh, thank you, Brian. Thank you very much for having me. Oliver It’s my pleasure.

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Brian Lauder: So first, I just wanted to say that we were all so happy to see on Twitter that your recovery and your isolation is complete. I saw the first thing you did was get a nice coffee as any self-respecting gay person would do. How how does it feel to be well and back out in the world after?

Speaker 4: Very scary, I think the most scariest June of my life. Mm hmm. It was really, really good to be out again. And and I am talking to someone who saw so many lockdowns in the UK, you know, during the COVID and everything. But this one was a little bit scary. So yesterday was obviously a celebratory ask and I started from the nearest coffee shop and then going to my GP general practitioner for my blood tests. That’s how I celebrated early in the morning.

Brian Lauder: So backing up a bit. We would love, if you don’t mind, for you to share some of what this illness is like for you. You know, only as much as you’re comfortable going into it, obviously, your private medical experience. But I know you believe that it’s important for people to sort of know what this is like. So tell us tell us what it was like.

Speaker 4: Yeah, of course. Well, at this point of of of my Monkeypox journey, I think it’s a little bit later, not to my mind, because I chose to be public with it, because, you know, I realized that there weren’t any live experiences. And as someone like you mentioned, working in the HIV sector, I know how important it is to see it or to hear it from someone who has it or who had that. And, you know, the doctors or clinicians are you know, the experts always tells you the facts, you know, in line with whatever data, proven data they have. But then you live and you have the experience of.

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Speaker 4: It’s completely different story because my journey has been really, really painful, I say. So I wanted to put it out there and not to scare people, but just to show that this may happen to some people. And it started exactly a month ago. And after I started to have a really high fever at home, and I started to have chills and shiver.

Speaker 4: And, you know, my friends actually told me that there was a heat wave in the neck that on the second week of June that not that I was aware of because I was lying on the floor blankets at home and then, you know, shivering. It was it was really scary. And and I thought actually at the beginning it was COVID high fever, swollen glands. It’s like, okay, great. Third time’s a charm. So here we go again. And then I tested every day, of course, then all negative.

Speaker 4: So that was like, okay, something is wrong here, you know? And a week passed and I am calling, you know, frontline services 111111 is the emergency service in the UK. You need to call and they give you advice and if you are really sick, you call nine, nine, nine, which is an ambulance they send. And every time when I called them, I was being told, you know, this is not emergency, call us, many of us. And and the fever was going 38, 38.5, 39.2. And then it’s an advice of if I was telling in the last conversation, I was like, well, call us when you get when you get worse. But I think the next call will be from someone who will find me in the flat.

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Brian Lauder: You know, like passed out. Right.

Speaker 4: Because what is wrong? Like a 39.6 degree Celsius fever. You know, it’s I was a bit gutted and then the rash came in. But the rash was really, really different rash. And it was looking I was looking like Kobe from Super Mario. He was like half, half, white, half. And it wasn’t like raised rash. It was all over my blouse. And then there was one little tiny lesion, which all my photos out there in public right now shows this great huge scar on my face. And I was thinking, it has its own living area in my on my face.

Brian Lauder: Oh, gosh.

Speaker 4: You know, because it’s not that is a tiny like a tip of a pan. And then it got that that big. Yeah. I didn’t have anything else. So as someone who had occasionally some skin problems, that impulse, I advised something. I thought, okay, this is only one lesion on my face and small, probably it’s impetigo. So I put on some cream on it and. And the rash doesn’t go away for you. It doesn’t go away. No one hopes me.

Speaker 4: And then my GP called me, general practitioner called me and asked me questions about I’m living with HIV since 2016, so I was diagnosed with HIV and I didn’t have any symptoms about HIV. So I found out through my partner, unfortunately, that, you know, I may have HIV. So I’m.

Brian Lauder: Right.

Speaker 4: Now HIV AIDS related issues have problems or interactions or nothing. So my GP told me that, you know, high fever and swollen glands. So maybe our HIV treatment stopped working. Oh, wow. And someone and I’m like, I told myself an HIV advocate, and I was suddenly like, what? You know, well, you know how this could happen. Everything was fine. My tests and everything is fine. And obviously, I called my sexual health clinic and they said, we want to test for Monkeypox because you said you have one lesion.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: And had you heard about Monkeypox?

Speaker 4: Not in the news. You know, I am working in sexual has obviously so. But you know, as someone working in sexual health, I didn’t have the details of the Monkeypox. I wasn’t aware the thing that World Health Organisation has shared a news about me today, which I said that you don’t think it could get to you until you have it. I think it is very early stages and I was thinking or maybe not thinking, you know, about Monkeypox at all. So I’m I’m done. They said that it might be monkeypox. So let’s take you in. You know, they gave me an immediate appointment and it’s just I was really sick at a hospital and I was taking ibuprofen and parasitic every couple of hours. They take it only four times a day. I would just take it every couple of hours.

Brian Lauder: I just want to talk quickly for our listeners that the fever is over 134 Fahrenheit. It was quite, quite high. I just wanted to make sure everybody understood that. Yes. Yeah.

Speaker 4: So that at the hospital, my doctor looked at me. And I have to say, by dividing the UK, I’m talking about amount of pressure on the sexual health clinics. They actually deep, clean room every single time and the doctors are getting the gowns and the masks every single time. It took maybe 2 hours to get me through isolated routes to the clinic and check it was really depression on, you know, and this was a month ago when the cases wasn’t even that high.

Speaker 4: And then my doctor told me, there can be so many monkeypox cases. So your rash is not monkeypox rash. This is a high fever rash. Actually, you don’t have any lesions on your nose. So we’re not giving testing for monkeypox that we really think that you may have another infection, another unknown, another, you know, a journey to the A&E.

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Speaker 4: And A&E. Doctor looked at me, said that all this is tonsillitis. Here is your penicillin. Go home on your bed, everything. I don’t blame them because I really can’t say any of the authorities around the world talking about USA and U.K., as you know, leading into monkeypox right now gave a very clear messaging to the communities or doctors or any information. So is an unknown, you know, HIV treatment stopped working or tonsillitis or flu or COVID, you know, all very similar. So I don’t blame them. But still, you know, being into the unknown was horrible.

Speaker 4: And then obviously I got home, they sent me home. Penicillin didn’t work, and my throat was shut completely because of the lesions in 305. And I was still at home. And luckily I was lucky in my sexual had clinical medicine hospital section IV clinic. The nurse was calling me to check on me every day and on the third day I was really agitated and I was crying. I told her that I haven’t eaten like for two days. I haven’t even had any water. Alderman swallow my own spit like all time pillow boys. I had a spit bucket next to me.

Speaker 4: She convinced the emergency services and my journey to the healing started after that, you know. And I was taken to the hospital. I went to the hospital, Amy and then at ten, 11 days of isolation started at the hospital. Wow. It’s terrifying, but I don’t want to terrify people with that stomach because I’m telling everyone that my journey got better when I hospitalised.

Speaker 4: And monkeypox unfortunately again in the UK there is, there are really limited laboratory testing for monkeypox. So you had to wait for maybe a week. In my case it was five days, but it was like a month ago. So without that diagnosis no one can do anything. And the hospital that took me in was giving me all the, you know, opioids to ease my pain because I was crying, you know, I was shivering, you know, all the antibiotics for my huge scar on my face. But they they didn’t know what it was. And on the third day when I was at the hospital, the test result came back positive for monkeypox.

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Speaker 4: And then everything got better than Royal Free London. They are really experts in the infectious conditions and they wanted to take me over immediate because they had a couple of other monkeypox cases as well. With COVID, they were really, really successful as well. So and then they I, they carried me over day and they put me on at t pox take over my treatment. That is an antiviral treatment. They told me that this never trialled on human. So we don’t know how efficient it is. We don’t know, you know, how it’s going to turn out. But I was so much in pain. I wasn’t able to eat or drink. I came to a stage that apologies from some of your listeners, but oh my God, like Trump said, do you need to inject some bleach in me to him? That is.

Brian Lauder: Right. Right. Please, let’s try not.

Speaker 4: I was in that stage of pain.

Brian Lauder: Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 4: Do whatever you need to. Yeah, I. You have my full consent and you know, I’m very lucky, Dave. I hope it worked. And three days later I was able to swallow my first time. And then a couple of days later I had my first cereal in the work list.

Speaker 4: And I’m thinking about your experience.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Kind of just goes to show that the pain of the illness is one thing and the, you know, physical effects, but the like doctors not knowing how to treat you people, maybe. I’ve read stories of people not being believed or being brushed off or being stigmatised. Once somebody realises that they might have Monkeypox and nurses sort of being grossed out, it just really to me feels like what it must. Have been for people in those first days of the HIV AIDS epidemic, where it’s really information circulating within communities that are like forcing people to advocate for themselves rather than, you know, doctors in the medical establishment. Knowing what’s going on and sort of providing.

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Speaker 4: That is one of the reasons, actually, Christina, that I wanted to put myself out there because I saw the similarities and other early days of HIV, like a journey here. So let’s not go dark and let’s do something about it right now, because otherwise it’s going to get out of hand. But now with HIV, for example, sometimes they go out, one of the nurses that some didn’t want to talk to me and then I backed off. But because I didn’t know the facts, I was able to fight for it. But now it is a huge unknown and I am sitting there, don’t have a diagnosis and I don’t know the facts about this new condition.

Speaker 4: And then when they don’t want to do something or they want to do something, I don’t know what I need to do. Oh, you don’t want to treat me. I want to fight you with what you know. What should I say in return? I don’t know what is happening. I don’t know what condition. I don’t know if it’s fatal or not. There is not enough data scientifically. This was the most mentally draining part. Yeah, for me, I think.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: I mean, it must have felt so strange because we we all benefit from all of those decades of advocacy around HIV and AIDS and all of the knowledge that was really hard fought, but like you said, allows people to come into, you know, to come into that that medical world with a certain, you know, kind of armed with information.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Right. At least at some point. You know, one of the things that I’ve seen people sort of talking about, one of the real problems with labeling this even informally as having to do with gay people, right. Is that if anything, it feels like it’s sort of punishing gay people for, you know, our propensity for keeping track of our health. Right, for being very there before being really knowledgeable. Right. For getting regular tests, for sort of being really careful and thoughtful in communities about health risk in general.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: You know, it’s just such a perverse twist on so many decades of that kind of work. I think one of the things that’s so striking listening to your story is that like, you know, a little bit differently than from COVID early on in the pandemic is we actually have pretty decent resources to deal with this. But like you were saying in that kind of classic bullshit public health way, right. Different different authorities and states have said, oh, okay, well, this is mostly happening in the LGBT community or rather is must have been reported so great they already have to take care of themselves. So we’ll just leave it there. But rather what we could be doing right now is advocating and demanding, right, that no, we need to put our public health strategy in place now because people can’t necessarily easily get tested. Like you said, it took so many days or, you know, doctors and clinicians need resources on track. We already have a vaccine, but there isn’t that much, you know, we have but we have those tools.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: But there is this public health, right? This is the classic scenario we’re all living through now. We’re being asked to manage it at the individual level when in reality, I mean, viruses are the perfect example of viruses don’t believe in individuality. Viruses are indiscriminate and social. And so it is appropriate to address this at the state, you know, at the at the at the level of public health. And that means authorities.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: And so it seems like also one thing we could be doing right, no matter who we are individually, is be thinking about like, okay, well, if I am worried for myself, but if I care about, you know, my community, I need to be calling up my, you know, my representatives now. I need to be you know, it’s like some of us, right? I feel like probably a lot of people listen to this podcast. We’ve already spent time Googling, like, can I even get a Monkeypox facts? Right? Like, can I get the vaccine? Can I, you know, what do I do? But but for everyone, right? It’s like, well, in the meantime, if we’re all kind of stepping up in that way, maybe we can preempt a lot more of this ridiculousness from playing out a little further.

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Speaker 4: Monkeypox I know the first cases in America, I think around ten years ago, if I read it correctly. And so it’s not a new condition. And I know that in the in the UK between 2018 and 2022, there were only seven cases, but those cases were from people who visited Africa. So the really interesting fact here is here it comes for the discriminatory, racist people. Since the first case happened in 2022 in the UK, there is no Africa connection, so they don’t know how in the beginning of the May it happened. So government was aware of it. And since at the beginning of May the. And this is increasing not just that there is a vaccine available. Why? We did an action when there were 100 cases.

Brian Lauder: Right. Right.

Speaker 4: Why? The vaccine is still not rolled out. And three, why there are confusing mixed messages from each health care provider. Some says you have to visit Africa in a couple of weeks to get vaccine. Some says, you know, you have to be gay to get vaccinated. Some says you have some other health conditions to have vaccine, like who is going to get the vaccine. This treatment is available. Let’s get the placebo trials happen as soon as possible. So know how effective it is, you know? But at least we don’t deal with unknowns.

Speaker 4: Yeah, but when I got the Monkeypox, my biggest mental health issue was unknowns and ADHD. I have to know what my instructions are. I have to know where I want to go on that. But nothing. It can be scary. But let’s not let people to fall into the anxiety and panic because it is not fatal. There are no death tolls on Van Monkeypox so far in 2022 cases. There is a vaccine. There is a treatment. Just we need to be quick and protect our communities.

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Brian Lauder: Haroon, thank you so much for joining us. That was incredibly, incredibly informative and just powerful. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: The loss of abortion rights and the rapidly shrinking access to reproductive and other adjacent forms of care in the United States are really testing our collective imagination for solidarity and autonomy outside of dependence on the blessing of the state or the law. And despite the anxious attempts of some ideologues looking at you, New York Times columnist Pamela Paul, who in a recent column tried to pretend that the right and the left are the same because something something trans inclusive language is as bad as the Supreme Court overturning Roe versus Wade.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Anyways, the truth is that trans struggles and struggles for reproductive justice, especially abortion, are just so tightly intertwined. And trans people actually have long term experience with being unable to access lifesaving health care through the so-called sanctioned channels and also have been policed for doing that. And these state level laws that we’re seeing criminalizing abortion in the US now have come into force in a totally symbiotic relationship to their anti-trans predecessors. All things we’ve chatted about on the pod before.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: But trans people also have this kind of ingenious medical practice all on our own. We usually call that DIY, as in transitioning do it yourself. And it’s just our luck that Io Dodds is a journalist published an incredible piece recently in The Independent. At the start of July, which was entitled Never Ask Permission How to Trans Women ran a legendary underground surgical clinic in a rural tractor barn. Okay, so now that you’re officially obsessed just from hearing that title, I think you understand why we had to have iron on the show to talk to us about this kind of mind blowing story of these trans women who set up their own DIY surgery clinic. And this was in the Pacific Northwest. Fran Townsend, for also, you know, to think about the kind of lessons we can draw from this right now.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: So I know, first of all, welcome to outward. Thank you so much for for joining us today.

Speaker 3: Hi. Thank you for having me on. And so glad to be here. Well, we’re.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: All really big fans of this piece. And, you know, we’ll have a link to it in the show notes that everyone can go and, you know, read the original here. But I was hoping you could kind of set the scene for us all, because in this piece you introduce us to, you know, now one of my absolute favorite people and Eilish Nylon again. And you tell us a little bit about how Eilish founded this DIY clinic in the mid aughts, and could you tell us a little bit about sort of why she decided to set up her own underground clinic out in Washington State and sort of what she was hoping to do with it at the time.

Speaker 3: Sure. Yeah. So there’s a funny answer to this, because part of the answer, like maybe even the initial answer is like because she needed money and it was something something that they could do. Right. She was living out in the middle of nowhere. She kind of burns out on the stuff that she was doing, which was like software development and anarchist organizing. And she was sort of part of, you know, Bourbon Street, the anarchist movement. And as was her friends, Willa, they ended up living well. I was a doctor and I wasn’t able to see her. Unfortunately, she doesn’t like to speak to the press, and she is also currently English, says an abortion doctor. And so she is subject to sort of threats to her safety right now. So she wasn’t someone I could talk to.

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Speaker 3: So this is primarily through Eilish, according to Willow, I was arresting at the time. Right now, even rarer than a doctor who is also as a doctor out as a transgender woman. And she moved to Pacific Northwest for a while to do a residency. And at the same time, Eilish and her girlfriend did moved to this sort of little house, basically in the middle of nowhere Pacific Northwest.

Speaker 3: And so the idea for it sort of came from Willow, who had this idea of like, hey, what if we what if we do this thing? She had been basically buying medical equipment that would be necessary on eBay and kind of fixing it up. She liked to fix things up. And there was also this thing of, you know, looking more broadly. Yeah. Eilish’s description of this was like, I don’t want anybody to think I was anything. I just needed money.

Speaker 3: Right. Like, we would just dump it, which I think is possibly done quite a bit because when they whatever the initial spots, the decision, once they decided to go through with this, they took a lot of inspiration from both the radical politics that they’ve been running with and from the radical politics, the abortion. So they were explicitly inspired by the James Watson, which in the 1970s, late sixties, early seventies, was this abortion group in Chicago. And at the time, abortion was illegal in Illinois. And they basically found that they were have this kind of underground thing where they’d connect people with abortion doctors.

Speaker 3: But it turns out a lot of the abortion doctors they used not only were men, but in fact, had lied about their medical credentials. And so they went, hang on. If these men can just lie about Daniels and lie about having the qualifications to do this and still perform abortions, that actually went on to say that we’re still using them. We don’t have any choice. Why can’t we just do the same thing if we’re using sort of illegal fake doctors anyway? Why don’t at least maybe be the illegal fake doctors and we give a shit about the safety of women that we’re dealing with. And so there was a kind of similar thing going on.

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Speaker 3: Yeah. Except in fact, well, I was literally a doctor. And that’s one of the interesting things about this clinic that it sort of, at least according to Eilish, it is one that was fully kind of legal and compliant with Washington state law. It was underground. It was secret because they were concerned about sort of basically being unfairly discriminated against by the authorities and by investigators. But they say it was, you know, did meet all the requirements of a legal clinic.

Speaker 3: And the context for trans health care at this time was that, you know, this was before Obamacare, which kind of led to a lot of American health insurers being obliged to fund trans healthcare procedures. And at the time, the way she described it, it was a very sort of bleak landscape for securing trans medical care, for securing hormones, for securing surgery. Not only did insurance not cover it and not only trans disproportionately likely to not have health insurance or not have money out of pocket to pay for this stuff. But many clinics or hospitals or such like just didn’t want to do it. And if they did want to do it, they often, you know, behaved in quite discriminatory ways with trans people. That might just be as simple as disrespect. You go in and you’re constantly being detained and everybody sort of doesn’t understand what the hell you are, therefore, or it can be.

Speaker 3: You know, there was some not very long before this clinic was set up in 2004, there was some very nasty examples of trans people being like left to die by medical practitioners who were like, Wow, what the fuck are you? Right. And didn’t want to help them. So, you know, so this led to a similar situation we’re in where, you know, the way I described it was like but nowadays in a lot of America, we have what’s called the informed consent model of trans healthcare, which is what we’re doing in California I’ve been able to take advantage of, and they’ve said we didn’t have the informed consent model, we have a sketchy doctor model. We have the going into people with Super KS like Butcher Brown model. We have the going to doctors who, you know, Butcher Brown later got sent to prison for operating on someone who then got gangrene actually after the operation.

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Speaker 3: So it was this sort of really grim situation for being able to find a doctor who would help you out. Or if you did that doctor actually being able to like help you in a kind of responsible and clean and safe way. And they were like, Shit, we could just do this. This is a procedure that’s been performed for. Thousands of years. So ways we can learn how to do this and we can do it well and we can probably do it better than a lot of the brightest currently do.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Yeah, I love how, you know, it’s so interesting, right? I think sometimes, and especially because of how a loss of access to abortion has been framed, people might be primed to think that DIY medicine in general or surgery is always kind of tragic, that it’s like a last ditch resort, or that it’s really comes down to what is legal and illegal. Well, what’s interesting here, right, is that, like, none of those kind of easy divides really seem to work. Right. Like this clinic is actually nominally legal. Right. But also, you know, the state of trans health care isn’t just dependent on legality. Right. And this idea of like who is really good at doing surgery doesn’t necessarily even line up, although, you know, very helpful that Willow was was herself a doctor.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Sure. And, you know, maybe, you know, just just for fun for for listeners who may not know, you know, an orca activity is a pretty at least I would say pretty chill surgery. Of course, I don’t remember mine because I was put under as mine is. But, you know, it’s like it doesn’t take very long. It has been performed, as you were saying, for thousands of years because, of course, nature very wisely, it was like, you know, some people don’t want these, you know, attached to their bodies to want to perform on the outside. And that means it’s going to be real easy to just pluck them out. And then, you know, what do you do? You know, they also had the foresight.

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Brian Lauder: Absolutely.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: She was very nice in this one case to trans women. But, you know. But but but could you maybe tell us a little bit about why like what what made that sort of to be so attractive potentially to, you know, prospective clients out of the barn? And, you know, obviously, I just implied one of the reasons is it’s relatively simple, quick and safe. But but what made it kind of such an attractive surgery to maybe, you know, find in this incredible circumstance?

Speaker 3: It was an interesting balance trying to write this piece because I was simultaneously trying to write something that would for trans people reading would feel like it was for us. And it felt like it kind of took this sort of basic realities of trans life as axiomatic. But at the same time, I wanted it to be intelligible to cis people. And part of that meant explaining why this was an important procedure for people, right? Why any of this was important? Because there is obviously a huge amount of kind of cultural, I don’t know, weight and obsession, perhaps some weirdness, I suppose, freighted on the testicles as an organ right there, an organ that is very kind of semantically and culturally and kind of sexually and all of these different things.

Speaker 3: And so over overloaded, right. They are what what they do and what they are like is often fairly obscured by like all of our feelings about them removing the testicles, which like in the medical context, we call it what gets me, but it is the, whether it’s been used for thousands of years and it’s a more kind of controversial and racy word is castration.

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Speaker 3: Right. And castration is obviously what is also used figuratively for like losing your major, losing your ability to act, losing your potency in all kinds of spheres of life. Removing the testicles is in people’s heads as like one of the most out there possible procedures. You have something that nobody in their right mind would want unless they were bonkers in some way or unless they were a 19th century eunuch or something.

Speaker 3: Whereas the truth is that this is a medical procedure that people want for a lot of different reasons. For trans women, it’s a fairly normal medical procedure to get, and it has a sort of more like psychological bodily kind of dysphoria, like utility, and it has a very pragmatic utility. The first one is that trans women tends to want their bodies not always, but often one their bodies to be more kind of in line with what cis women’s bodies are like, to put it crudely and often half dysphoria about the genital and orient to become sort of is a much much simpler procedure than vaginoplasty, which is the construction of a new vagina out of the materials they already got.

Speaker 3: And okay, it to me is way, way simpler than that and as a consequence then cheaper. And so often it is something that people get before or if they cannot get vaginoplasty and it’s something that can, you know, relieve dysphoria, they are not there anymore. You’re like, Oh, that feels nice, that feels better. I feel more able to. And relieving dysphoria doesn’t just mean, Oh, I feel better in general. It can mean, for instance, you’re able to engage in sexual activity in a way that is less self-conscious the way that it’s less like blocked off from that. If you have really strong genital dysphoria, that can be a really difficult thing to navigate, perhaps when you’re trying to have sex within one.

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Speaker 3: And then the pragmatic reason is simply trans women usually not always go on hormone replacement therapy. And when you take hormones for trans women, usually that means you go to a testosterone blocker and you go on testosterone. Both these are kind of shitty abstracts. To take all of the different testosterone blockers. There are all kinds of different side effects from the different ones you can get. One of the most commonly used in the US is fructose has all kinds of terrible side effects, which include you have to pay like twice as much, which is a tremendous inconvenience and I hate it. And so if you have no get me that removes one whole side of that hormone therapy regime. You only need to then have the surgeon, as I understand it, and not having to take to you, but because as part of your pill regimen is very, very helpful. So to answer the question, I want people here in particular, I want the what the answers.

Speaker 3: There were not many patients, to be clear. In the end, there were only about 14 to 16 patients. They could all be cases, but for one thing, it was cheaper at the time. I told me, You don’t get to me, would set you back maybe 2000 to $5000 at the most at this clinic if a charge was 500. Right. And they also charged on a sliding scale. So a lot of people end up paying less than $5. And sometimes if you paid $500, they would like package in various things like doing some electrolysis hair removal on you and that sort of package in you get to sleep on the couch while you wait in the area and discuss any complications or they take you out right to your forehead. Somebody said that some come and they teach you how to shoot an assault rifle just in case as a trans person, you ever need that. So some.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Normal translating.

Speaker 3: The right place. But the other thing was that they would treat people who would even more struggle to get medical care from the medical establishment. So, for instance, they would treat people who are HIV positive, which according to a lot of sort of mainstream doctors would not treat at the time. And also just a general mistrust. This was a clinic that the goal, the intention in part was let’s make this feel like a safe and trusted environment. Trans people who have been given reasons and plenty of reasons throughout their life to not trust system.

Brian Lauder: I01 of the one of the things I loved about this piece was that in addition to digging into all of the issues that we’ve been talking about, it’s also just a beautiful piece of storytelling and sort of scene description and all of this other writerly aspects. I was hoping that you could relate if it doesn’t spoil the piece too much, maybe relate to our readers this really harrowing, but also kind of funny story that you tell about when the Health Department had been sicked on on the clinic. And there’s this ingenious way that Eilish manages to sort of handle that situation using a bit of sort of trans community wisdom. I wonder if you could just narrow it down a little bit for our listeners.

Speaker 3: Oh, yeah, totally. So this is a this is a story that I was told before I told before I read this article, because I actually told the story first on Twitter in 2020 and did an interview with the podcast. Totally trans shout out to them because I seen that before writing my piece. So this is a yeah, this is a fascinating story of when this nation gave a very as Alex described it, technically true but really materially misleading accounts of where she got her off to that she was like, oh, yeah, it was this two trans woman looking right to the far right.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Which is.

Speaker 3: Literally true, but does not mention that like one of them is a medical doctor. This is a matter of teenage stuff. So she because the authorities and the Board of Health comes knocking, I should sort of preface this by saying, you know, because we, you know, weren’t able to talk to you will I will as a pseudonym. I didn’t want to share when I was full name. So I wasn’t able to trace this up and verify this and like try and get the paperwork from the Washington Board of Health. You know, that wasn’t something that we were able to get from the authorities. If there even is still a record of this. The way I describes it is that the government came knocking, the board of Health came knocking. She initially thought it was maybe the FBI. She ran in these circles and they come in and they’ve heard about this and they’re like, you know, asking all these questions like we want to see the autoclave. Well, it’s like, where’s is your business license? Where’s your you know, how do you store drugs? What’s your drug storage kit? What a lot of these were all things that Eilish was prepared for. And some of these things were things that like they actually have sort of dodged the requirement for.

Speaker 3: Right. So they didn’t need to have business license says because they didn’t make enough money. They did not store drugs on the premises. They did not have any drugs, paperwork or procedures. They would give you a prescription, utensil it somewhere else, and then you’d come and take it in front of them. So she’s like, We don’t have those. We don’t do things. Hence the autograph work is this. And it’s all feeling very like in control and very kind of like, Oh yeah, she’s ready. And then she spots a big problem just behind the electric cautery, which was a small cup with the testicles of the previous patient last night. And kind of flashback how these got here is that last night the patient was real lightweight and sort of took the Vicodin and then had the surgery and was like an idiot, like, stupid.

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Speaker 3: So Eilish and Willow have to kind of like, get their arms around her and get her arms over their shoulders and, like, help her into that house and just kind of look after the clients. And so either she gave the clinic a quick, quick wipe down was like, I’m going to do the meta, you know, the sort of. Thorough cleaning of this place in the morning, except in the morning before. Like basically as I drink first cup of coffee, the proverbial cup of coffee you shouldn’t have. Right. That’s when they help your shop. So she’s like, shit. They’re like loose balls.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Like, this is a scene from trans version of The Hangover or something, right?

Speaker 3: Absolutely. So the tip that she says, the trick that she says that she’s learned is that the system, the bureaucrats, parliaments are really by the concepts of transness and do not like to hear the words transgender, transsexual, especially, especially all these sort of a bunch of times. They she starts basically being like.

Speaker 3: Well, hey, listen, if you guys give a fuck about transgender health care, then we would not be doing this. We were just a pair of transsexuals. We’ve been trying to get funding for this transsexual up in Washington. A need but even trans out, there’s like constantly saying the word trans and. I’m they’re like, well, that’s not our. Okay. You know, we’ll see what we can do. And, you know, kind of essentially I distracted and leave and in the end I wish since they gave the clinic the broadly clean bill of health except for one thing. So they didn’t like it. There was not. And according to Ali, this is much that the the bureaucrats themselves tracked. And they came in and she was like, hey, honey, why? Why, please?

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Speaker 3: And they didn’t. And then they were like walking around the clinic with their money. And then they go, Well, there was a model for this clinic. And I was like, She’s still pissed about this. And she’s like, Well, I still have to explain this. Well, it still has to be like, I run this clinic and these bureaucrats fucking did best. Then they wrap this up so they leave and she’s able to sort of retrieve the bills. I’m going to go into the house where they’re sleeping. So Dana is the sort of pseudonym that we used in the piece for the previous patient. Go into the go into the house and be like, hey, you’ve got this.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Unbelievable. You can’t make this stuff. Hey, now, if somebody should really option your is like a miniseries or something or like a several season dramedy would watch clearly we could all talk about punk architect meets in a barn all day, but unfortunately that’s about all the time we have. I just can not recommend enough to listeners. Please go and read Io’s article. As Brian alluded to, it’s it’s like it’s such an incredible read. So you’re primed here. And that article in The Independent, we’re going to link to you in our show notes for you. IO, thank you so much for taking the time to come talk to us about this and thank you for writing. What is Hands Down, my absolute favorite piece of Pride Month journalism, if not my favorite piece of trans journalism I have read in many, many, many years.

Speaker 3: Oh, thank you so much and thank you for having me on. It’s been a wonderful discussion.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Okay. That’s almost all the time we have for this month. But before we sign off, we have to update our gay agenda. Jules, what are you going to bring us this month? Okay. So I want to talk to you about season two of my absolute favorite show on television, P-valley, and this is a show on the Starz network, which who even knows what that is? But it’s this incredible show about a strip club on the Mississippi Delta, a kind of drama and story about about black life, you know, in the Mississippi Valley, on the Delta.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: And we get treated to this incredible strip club that is headed up by a femme queen name, Uncle Clifford, and a cast of just incredible, really dynamic black women and men who are sort of trying to find their way in the world and facing down issues of gentrification and capital investment, legacies that anti-blackness, homophobia, transphobia, I mean, what have you.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: It really is. I don’t know. I keep telling myself I need to spend some time doing research, like who came up with this show? Like what? I want to know so much more about it, but suffice it to say, it is an absolute treat. It is such a joy to watch. It’s so funny, it’s so sexy, and it is so unapologetically queer and trans femme, not just in a in an African-American register, but really in much more of a mississippi Delta, you know, Deep South Caribbean kind of facing idiom.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: And this season two is in progress right now. If you already watch the show, which I’m sure many of our listeners do, you know that the Twitter conversation around it is one of the most enjoyable things that we have coming each week on that first app. And I just think it’s really kind of a stunning tribute to to the kind of storytelling that can travel under black queer and black trans idioms in this in this particular moment. And I just I just really, you know, at some point I’ll have to talk about Uncle Clifford as a character who I just think she is just one of the most amazing people I have ever met on television in my whole damn life. So go watch it. My state of COVID life is that I don’t currently have the pleasure of going to strip clubs and I’m not going to lie. I really miss that. It’s been quite a few years and so in the meantime I just get to go to the strip club on this show in my mind. Christina What? What have you got for our agenda?

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: I am recently recovered from COVID and tbh I had it pretty bad and was laid up for like a week and a half and so watched a lot of TV to try to distract myself. And one of the things that I watched all of the episodes of was the other two on HBO. Have you guys heard of this show? So I haven’t even heard of it until my friend who had COVID the same time as me was like, If you need something to take your mind off of any anxiety, which is exactly what I need to watch this show.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: So it’s a comedy about two siblings in their, I think like late twenties, early thirties, gay guy Carrie and a straight woman, Brooke, who are both sort of aimlessly or with aim but underachieving, trying to find their path in life. Their 14 year old brother becomes this superstar singing sensation with a YouTube video, and they kind of try to draft off his fame. So it’s like a very absurdist comedy in the vein of like Search Party or Broad City, I would say.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: And I found the gay storylines, especially in season two, to be unparalleled in modern television. So there’s an insecure, a guy who pops up in a couple episodes and just like pitch perfectly is skewers that whole ecosystem of characters. There’s one episode where their moms talk show is having a sweepstakes where gays who come out to their homophobic dads can win $25,000. And so, like a like young gay guy and his dad come on the show claiming $25,000. But it turns out they’re like just lovers who like games the system. And they’re like all their friends. They’re like, yeah, that’s just what we do. We pretend to be like a boy and his dad. It was dumb, it was gay. And if you have COVID or not, it’s just I found it a really great way to take my mind off of literally everything.

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Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Bryan, what are you bringing to the table?

Brian Lauder: So I have something a little more mellow, but I think equally interesting. So Jessica Winter, who is a former site editor and all around great person, she had a piece called Watch that a queer children’s book do. And it’s a really, really beautiful essay that does a lot of work and sort of I don’t know how many words it has, but maybe like 2000 words that doesn’t read kind of essay.

Brian Lauder: It’s a really fascinating capsule history of queer children’s books, and it starts with like seventies zines almost and goes all the way up until and tango makes three which which you mentioned Christina earlier in the show and Julian is a mermaid. Just another recent book. It also has this really insightful taxonomy on sort of how and why the mission of these books has changed over time. So tracing that from like really a kind of have a didacticism to like overt representation to like more subtle inclusion and changing the sort of issue of the book to be more like a kid focused thing that’s like my uncle’s new partner might replace me like in his life rather than like there’s gay people or, you know, how do they how do they exist? And then it also does this like psychoanalytical work, looking at how like adults project onto these books in different ways, both liberal and conservative people.

Brian Lauder: And then, of course, it addresses the current book Banning Movement that we’re on and kind of thinks about how, how and which kinds of these books might slip past the censors and why. And then Jessica also very generously includes some vignettes about how she and her own kids have interacted with these books and their and their home life. And it’s just gorgeous, really. She’s a wonderful writer. And it’s just a it’s a really excellent synthesis of a lot of issues sort of circulating around these books right now. And I learned a lot from it, and I think people would really enjoy it. It is called What Should a Queer Children’s Book Do? And it’s in The New Yorker.

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Brian Lauder: Okay. That is the end of the show for this month. As always, we would love to have your feedback, your topic ideas, your voice memos for thoughts and queries. All of those wonderful things at outward podcast at Slate.com. Or you can reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter at Slate outward. Jen Tanner as our producer and a one stop DIY queer podcast surgeon. Thanks to our sponsors, she currently does not have to operate out of a barn. We’re very grateful. Very grateful for that. Thank you, sponsors. If you like our please subscribe and your podcasts are outward. We’ll be back in your feeds on August 17th. Until then. By Christina.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: By Bryan.

Brian Lauder: Via Jools.

Jules Gill-Peterson, Christina Cauterucci: Invite you to take everybody.