S1: Hello and welcome to the first 20 22 episode of Outward. I’m Christina Cauterucci, a senior writer at Slate, and I want to talk about an Instagram ad I saw recently. It was for a Queer company hyping up a hair pomade the hair pomade was made for, according to the ad. Women and folks, the two genders genders. I mean, it took me a second. I thought I had misread it. But then, you know, maybe it’s just the logical end result of what queers have been doing for a while now, which is replacing the word people with folks for some reason, sometimes with an axe, sometimes not, which I’m still waiting to hear about how that makes it more inclusive. But it kind of bugged me just because it feels like this is like a BIC for her situation, like where existing pomade made for men and not folks inadequate for my womanly hair.
S2: Yeah, it’s very. I don’t know if you remember this old Target Women sketches, which was done by that great comedienne Sarah Haskins. It was like making fun of exactly that kind of marketing. It feels, yeah, it feels entirely like that. So well, we welcome women and folks and everyone to our podcast. The Today I am Brian Lauder, editor of Outward. And what I want to talk about right now is my favorite Christmas present, which I may or may not be wearing during this recording, which are a pair of totally fluffy, very unsexy, supremely cozy flannel pajama bottoms that are covered in the Peanuts characters.
S1: That’s cue ice
S2: skating and playing in the snow. I might have been wearing these honestly since Christmas, but no, they’re very cute for sure, and I love them so much. It’s my favorite thing I got this year.
S1: Well, listeners, we have a great show lined up for you this month. The New Year is always a time to take stock of who we are, what the hell we’re doing and maybe how many of us there are. But counting queers and studying us as a population has never been easy, and showing up in official numbers can actually have some downsides. Scotland’s own Kevin Guyan will join us to chat about his new book, Queer Data, which explores the challenges and the ethical questions that pop up when we talk about quantifying Queer life. Then we’re going to discuss the Sex and the City reboot, and just like that, which is chock full of trans storylines for some reason. We’re going to assess those storylines on their merits and hopefully unpack the sex scene that had queers around the world saying, huh? But first, the moment you’ve all been waiting for the person you’ve all been clamoring for. That’s right. We found a third. We are just over the Moon to welcome to outward, our new co-host Jules Gill-Peterson. Hi, Jules.
S3: Hi, thank you so much. I feel like this is the most glamorous introduction I ever gotten as a reward.
S1: You deserve it. So our listeners will obviously get to know you over time. But just to kick it off, can you give us three facts about yourself? Maybe you know where you live, what you do, and maybe a bonus fact?
S3: Definitely. So I am coming to you from Baltimore, Maryland, which is where I live. I am in my day job, a professor, a historian of all things transgender and fabulous. And a bonus fact about me that I’m sure listeners will get to know very quickly is that I am a Capricorn. It is still Capricorn season. So the power coursing through these veins right now from the stars is at its peak for the year. So it really does feel like a good time to drop in and hopefully bring some electricity with me.
S1: For those of us who are sort of only have like one toe in the pools of astrology, how would I recognize a Capricorn in the wild?
S2: Yeah, good
S3: question. Well, you absolutely would always recognize the Capricorn in the wild. I think like this is totally an image that I got from my astrologer. But you know, the Capricorn is basically the person who can put out a call for people to run into battle and a whole army will show up. We move mountains in the world. Yeah, cool. I love that.
S2: Yeah, I just wanted to also quickly remind listeners that Jules has been sort of here in spirit on the show before. If you remember, we talked about your op ed in the Times about the fact that transgender children are not an invention of the last, but that was you. They are. That was just fantastic. Fantastic idea based on your research in your book. So I’m sure that will come up every time more in the podcast. But it was such a great op ed, and I’m so excited to have just for that little bit of your expertise to have on the show, but so excited for so much more to you.
S3: Well, me too. I’m excited to have a chance to talk about things that weren’t all just the doom and gloom. Yeah, you know, things have only gotten scarier, and that kind of cycle of anti-trans legislation is heating up again. So, you know, after everyone finishes listening today, please go and write your representatives and do some organizing cause. It has gotten pretty brutal out there, but there’s even more to talk about. And yeah, I’m excited to get into it.
S1: All right, on that note, let’s get down to business by which I mean our prides and provocations. Brian, how are you feeling this month?
S2: I am feeling provoked, and this is actually a bit of a double provocation. Can we handle it? I don’t know. There’s a lot going on in this provocation, so the main thing I’m provoked by is the world’s first LGBTQ cryptocurrency. I don’t know if you’ve heard about this, but it came out toward the end of last year and and I think now sort of fully operational, I don’t know if that’s even the right term for that, but it is called marry coin. This is something that I will not claim to understand cryptocurrencies fully, but I don’t think we need to understand them fully to talk about this because we’re really talking about the name. So the first provocation I have is a little bit of media criticism, actually. So my coin was developed in Spain. It was started in Madrid among a set of LGBT businesses there in Troika, which is the one of the gay neighborhoods there. And the name, if you’re not familiar with this, is a play on Maori. So that is a slang term in Spanish that every story I read in English rush to claim was a slur. The word they use to compare it to in English was faggot. So in Spain, I’ve had the privilege of spending a lot of time there because my partner has done research. I thing I’ve talked about that on the show before. It can mean that. But what it more often means is something more friendly like queen. And it’s like a term of endearment. Maori in particular, is something you would hear among gay men, maybe a little sassy, but mostly friendly. And so I was a bit provoked by seeing all of this English language coverage, trying to say that the name was essentially like a mistake or like the people who made this didn’t know what they were doing
S1: versus like a reclaim.
S2: Yeah, like as if we had said like Queer Cohen or something, right? And it would be like, Oh, that’s a slur. Like, some people might feel like it’s a slur, right? Of course, but mostly we understand it in a different way. And I think American or Maori functions that way in Spain as well. So I’m calling out our English language journalism, I guess in this case to get the cultural context right when you’re going to drag. Something which should be tried to be clear, this this this cryptocurrency is ridiculous and should be dragged, so more provoking to me is the main marketing pitch behind this, which is just that the it’s the classic idea that LGBTQI people are powerful in some way because we are an untapped economic engine. So here’s a quote from one of the co-founders of this one. Belmonte, he says, quote Since we move this economy, I think it means sort of all economies since we move this economy. Why shouldn’t our community profit from it instead of banks, insurance companies and big corporations that often don’t help LGBT people? I just want to say that, like our buying power is not something that we should be proud of. And it’s also and like a lot of cases, an unhelpful myth, and we could spend a lot of time talking about that. But Queer political values just cannot help but lead you to fighting against the economic status quo. I hope I don’t have to convince people of that, and I think just in this case, encouraging queers and our businesses to invest in a technology that, like most any sort of sober economist that I’ve ever read, thinks is at the very least in a bubble moment, if not, like, totally unsustainable, just as, like, really gross and irresponsible. So I hope I don’t have to give in to this. But like, let’s give American crypto a big crypt.
S1: No Miriam crypto,
S2: no script, no summary coin. OK, that’s all
S1: fine to me. I forget if we talked about this on the show, but wasn’t there some sort of Queer credit card that we were all that old? Like Queer journalists were getting out here and your son back on LGBT businesses?
S2: Yeah, I think there might have even been like a whole, like a sort of ally style, you know, non corporeal bank that exists. Yeah, this is a trend that’s happening, and maybe we should cover this at some point. And also but yeah. Wow.
S3: Well, thank you for making the distinction, too, because I just feel like it’s such a copout in the journalistic culture to do this sort of like lazy linguistic reading that is so disrespectful to all Spanish speaking people in the world instead of focusing on the real hard truth, which is that there is nothing gay about cryptocurrency honey that is the straightest, most male bullshit I have ever heard of. So it’s a no for me. Yeah, yeah. We know RuPaul is fracking, and now we have a like I just I don’t like where this train is heading
S2: in the wrong direction. Jules, why don’t you jump on with you? Are so excited.
S3: Yeah. So I feel incredibly blessed to feel any pride in this dismal January that we’re all going through. But what a total bright spot to have witnessed that our incredible girl, MJ Rodriguez, has won a Golden Globe for her performance as Blanca in the series Pose. And you know, there’s a way in which we’re kind of living through this moment of firsts in trans representation, in trans cultural production. It’s easy to be cynical about that and say, Wow, it’s all these big networks or it’s just the system as it is. And so for me, it’s not so much the fact that, you know, she was the first trans woman and certainly the first black trans woman to win a Golden Globe. To me, it’s more about how much, you know, she and the other trans women on the show had been snubbed by award shows for the last several years. And you know, I’m not going to get into the whole thing with Billy Porter winning all the awards and having a number of faux pas in the press recently. But in any case, what really made me so happy was even though obviously the Golden Globes wasn’t able to hold an in-person award show. Rodriguez took to her live and just gave a really heartfelt, beautiful acceptance speech in which she shouted out all the other black trans women and trans women creators who lifted her up and who she’s lifting up. And she really saw what she was doing as opening a door for people who want work right. And I think sometimes when we talk about representation and visibility, it’s easy to critique those as being superficial. But what often gets left out of the conversation is like, Yeah, you know what happens when MJ Rodriguez wins a Golden Globe Award? It helps other black trans women and brown trans women get jobs in acting. Right. And we’re talking about people who have been shut out of the labor market in so many ways for so long. And so to me, I just feel this immense sense of pride and happiness, and this is nice to have a w right now. So I bowed down to our queen, MJ Rodriguez, because she really is a multi-talented threat out there. I mean, gosh, like, is there anything she can’t do? Give this woman the world and give all the other girls out there working hard and hustling in the world to because she really is shining a light for us.
S1: I really like that pride and access I. This is. Where I admit that I haven’t watched POWs and it’s definitely time for me to watch, not just because of the Golden Globes recognition, because, you know, I don’t believe in taking the system’s cues as my culture to consume. But yeah, it’s definitely time. And like you jewels, I could use a little uplift right now, though I’m sure the show is plenty dramatic.
S3: I mean, I was going to say, if you’re looking for uplift, I would never come out and look like this show is complicated and I could sit here and offer criticisms of it for a long time to have to do with its writing and consumption. It’s really hard to do what the show sets out to do, but to me, in some ways like I think we get so fixated and our culture kind of goes all in on purpose on this like, well, this is the trends show, right? This is a black trans women show. And so either it’s going to be good or it’s going to be bad and we’re going to judge the entire, you know, meaning of black trans people or black queer people for American culture on this one show. And to me, it’s much more important to be able to say that, like that show happened, it broke a lot of ground in the industry and now the door is wide open. Let’s have 10 new shows that go in so many other directions, and that, to me, is partially what’s so exciting.
S1: My pride is also it’s less glamorous, but it’s also a trans when. I’m talking about Amy Schneider, do we have any Jeopardy fans in the house?
S3: I mean, of course.
S1: So listeners, perhaps you watched Jeopardy. I personally don’t watch it in my everyday life, but I do it when I’m visiting my parents, which I was doing over the holidays. And it was a total surprise to me as I was sitting there with my mom to see a trans woman as like the reigning champions. She’s now one at the time of this, taping 30 games in a row. She’s passed a million dollars and she’s, you know, all kinds of firsts. Not only, you know, the first openly trans contestant to qualify for whatever Jeopardy big tournament is. She’s also the highest winning woman contestant ever. But even that is not the reason why I’m proud of her. I’m proud to be in community with Amy Schneider because she is clearly having so much fun, and she’s such a delightful character. So she, first of all, if you follow her on Twitter, which I highly recommend doing, mostly if you’re interested in Jeopardy, because that’s what she tweets about at the end of every game, she tweets a detailed thread about how she knew every question that she got right, how she was strategizing about, like what to bet on her little daily doubles and stuff like that. And you know, basically what her emotional state was at every point in the game. And it’s so illuminating, especially when you’re watching somebody as smart as her who somehow knows every single fact that arises on every subject matter. Like, how does she know that? Well, for instance, she got a question about Moby Dick, right? And she tweeted, The whale facts in Moby Dick are hardly the most interesting part of the book. But if you read Moby Dick a few times, you’ll absolutely learn a fair amount about whales. So, you know, just reading a few times. Gotcha. Got you with a million dollars on Jeopardy casual? The other thing that I’ll say about her and this is what really won me over as I was watching with my mom. You know, on every Jeopardy show, you get to say a fact about yourself. And she’s been on 30 times now, or maybe more you, because again, this show will air about a week after we record, but she’s probably running out of facts about herself that are like fun enough to be on Jeopardy. So the fact that she gave when I was watching over the holidays was that she and her girlfriend both love taking long, elaborate baths so much that it’s become a hardship that they only have one bath in the house because only one of them can be bathing at a time. So they’re looking for a house with two baths. And now that she’s won a million dollars on Jeopardy, I’m really proud that she can probably afford that.
S2: We should let her know that you can get there are bathtubs that I’ve seen and like in hotels, for example, that are totally big enough for like two or three or four people with her winnings. She deserves to have the experience unless unless they want separate baths. But like, yeah, I would love for her to get to get a job.
S1: Yeah, we should definitely explain that to her. I mean, she also lives in the Bay Area, so I’m sure that, you know, buying a house with room for two baths. Yeah, might be prohibitive, but absolutely. Yeah, I’m just she’s such a joy to watch. I highly recommend it. Even if you know you don’t watch Jeopardy on a regular basis.
S2: I’m so obsessed with the idea of getting to learn the thing like that’s that’s all it is, and I’m curious about it. What is it like while not of associations that people use to kind of get to reasoning their way through that? So I’m going to look that up right after this, for sure. All right. That’s our pride. Some provocations for this month. Now we will go to our next segment, which is talking about Queer data. I’ll confess that when I got a pitch email about our next segment, at first I was a little bit skeptical. How could a book about data, however Queer not be? Well, it’s a little bit wonky and abstract, but when I looked at the acknowledgements, I was quickly convinced of how deeply important to our real lives this topic could be. Queer data they began as dedicated to those not in the room when decisions are made about them. People at the sharp end of administrative practices assigned a category, but denied a say individual is not counted accurately and individual is not counted at all. Queer data is for everyone who is hard to provide yet more data as proof of injustice and the hope that the system will change if not now, but in the future. Queer data is for those asked to provide data to prove their existence. We’re joined today by the man behind those pretty stirring words. Author Kevin Guyan Guyan is a research fellow in the School of Culture and Creative Arts at the University of Glasgow, and his work explores the intersection of data and identity, particularly as it relates to LGBTQ people in the UK. His new book is called Queer Data Using Gender, Sex and Sexuality for Action. Welcome to our Kevin. Hi, Brian, thanks so much for being here today. So you start this book by noting a tension, as you call it at the heart of Queer data. You said that it describes sort of both the institutional collection of data about queer people and the various uses of that good and bad, but also the attempt or desire to Queer data. You write Queer question the foundations upon which these categories stand, the value granted to some identities above others, and who actually benefits from this collection analysis and use of data about LGBTQ people. Can you just start us off by unpacking sort of what that tension means to you and give some examples, maybe of what you’re talking about on each side of it?
S4: Yeah, I think what you’ve picked up there is the real kind of foundational tension in the work. I think when I can speak about Queer data, there’s kind of two strands to it. So I think one strand being data about LGBTQ communities and whether or not it’s about education, health, crime, money, these types of things we see quite commonly is one strand of Queer data. But then kind of working alongside that and sometimes, you know, opposition to that, our ideas about creating kind of data methods and data practices. Hmm. So by that, I mean, whether it’s services, whether it’s administrative systems, about registering for a driving license or passport or a mortgage application, these types of systems and practices which are part of our everyday lives, actually, we apply the Queer lens to it. So whether it’s kind of working Queer studies and Queer theory, it starts to kind of ask questions about the design of these supposedly neutral or supposedly apolitical or historical practices. So I think when writing the work, I really saw a tension in the benefits of the kind of need to be counted or the benefits it can come from being counted, but also the opposite side of the coin. The fact that a lot of dangers and kind of traps perhaps lead in these designs and practices, which put a lot of LGBTQ communities at risk of kind of falling into the traps.
S1: One of the parts of your book that really got me thinking was when you talk about biometric data collection and how there are so many different types of data. You know, I obviously know that that is data, but it got me thinking, for instance, about something we’ve talked about on this show before, which is what happens when you’re a gender nonconforming person at the airport and your body gets scanned and someone has to make a decision about, you know, what sex they think you are and pushes a button. Recently in the U.S., trans people won a fight to be able to have a marker X on your ID papers, which you know is fantastic. Perhaps for people who are gender nonconforming, people who are non-binary, people who don’t want to participate in the sort of binary gender markers of identification papers. And if implemented correctly, it could mean, you know, some type of freedom from harassment by data collectors. But one trans person in my circles, you know, responded to that by saying, Well, this would be a great way for the government to build a database of trans people and surveil them. And you know, I’m definitely not naive enough to think that that couldn’t happen here, but it struck me as possibly a little bit of an overreaction. But you know, can you speak a little bit about how any provision of data along these lines means deciding what you might gain? You know, in this case, it might be a gender marker that aligns better with your identity and makes it easier to go through. Who knows? Maybe it doesn’t. An airport security line. But, you know, is that worth what you might be giving up?
S4: I think this goes back to point earlier around kind of the double side to the issue. And I think particularly a really big example right now is the census in Scotland, in the U.K.. So the first. Time is asking two new questions, one on sexual orientation and one on transgender identity. So this means that for the first time, everyone over the age of 16 is going to be asked or has been asked the question and kind of identify their sexual orientation and whether or not they identify as trans. Wow. So on paper, that sounds really exciting. That sounds a real progressive step forward. And and actually, there are many, many benefits to capturing data on those categories in a national census. But at the same time, I think that disclosure of information about yourself brings a lot of risks and whether it be current concerns about data security, data protection, but also who knows where we’ll be in 10, 15, 20 years. And having this fantastically detailed dataset on everyone who identifies as Queer does potentially present a real danger as well. So think that kind of dual edge to, I guess, I guess, visibility? I guess sometimes we think about visibility being an intrinsic good, but actually there are situations and contexts and events. It can happen. We’re increasing. Your visibility does potentially put you at risk for certain things. And I think again, when you think about data, it’s not too large to it that risk of making yourself more visible through data, but also the risk of being a race or not being counted at all. And I think both examples of passports on the census, one issue here as well is who is actually designing these systems and these reforms? These passports is often by cis heterosexual majority who are kind of designing these systems practices, which Queer communities then try and fit themself into somehow. And with example, the census, the questions and the kind of response options were quite limited and they didn’t count non-binary people, for example. So again, trying to fit yourself into a system which isn’t designed from the ground up by Queer communities does pose a range of different issues.
S1: And you also write that whatever the results of the Scotland census are, people who have been campaigning against queer and trans rights will find a way to weaponize, you know, whether the population of queer and trans people are large or small. You know, either it’s, oh, there’s this small minority that doesn’t matter, or it’s, oh, there’s this epidemic of, you know, people transitioning or whatever.
S2: Right? You write about you write about the danger of like, especially LGBT organizations looking for like the magic number that’s going to unlock, you know, goodwill or whatever. But but right, as Christina says, that that maybe isn’t true.
S4: Yeah, I think the real danger, I think that kind of in the book, I kind of walk through the journey of data from collection through analysis, through data. We use data and I think the third and final stage around the use of data is really key because I could see Christina irregardless of the percentage of LGBTQ people in Scotland, whether it’s two percent, five percent, 10 percent, that number can be weaponized for a variety of different purposes. So I think it’s important for us to kind of preempt that and think through how can we, regardless of the actual evidence at the end of the day, how can we ensure that this data is used in a way that benefits and changes the lives of Queer communities for the better? And I think, particularly with the example of the kind of the weaponization of data is something ongoing, which hasn’t really been spoken about hugely and particularly in kind of more mainstream LGBTQ rights groups. Again, maybe hesitancy to trying to muddy the waters after kind of confusing messaging with a lot of benefits in simple messaging about the benefits of being counted, the benefits of being represented. But actually, there are some small dangers in that and some risks that I think this new hard enough preempting them and being ready to kind of respond to them if they do emerge.
S2: One of the other provocative things that the book raises is this tension around the tendency these days toward queer identity moving away from sort of the even like the acronym sort of categories, stable categories that we’re sort of familiar with and moving into a more fluid changing understanding of identity changing over time or over a person’s life and that kind of thing. And that poses, as you write, problems for data collection when the model of data collection, at the very least, is about checkboxes and like, Are you this or are you that? You write very eloquently that there is no simple solution to the push and pull that exists between understanding identity characteristics as something desperate and fluid versus something that you can tick on a diversity monitoring form if there’s not a simple solution. What are some ways you think about reconciling that tension? Because it really does seem like a very tough one.
S4: I think that I guess the major question how do you design a perfect solution to this problem? I think. But I kind of get to the end. The book is, I guess, maybe having a kind of ambivalent approach to data practices. And I think having the agency to think through, how am I going to engage with these existing systems, these existing institutions as a queer person? And in the end, the book I kind of walk through a few. Ease in doing that, so taking the example of the census in Scotland, this is the first time these questions have been asked. And my personal view is we we should engage with the process. We should see if it works and we should see if it’s if the data’s used to positively impact our lives at the end of the day and whether or not the government are going to use this data for good purposes. This is something that we need to be involved in. However, if actually in five 10 years time, I don’t see this practice, this institution is using data about me to positively bring about positive changes and actually there our opportunities to then the actual either reform this practice, this institution or ultimately not engage and abolish this, this kind of and system. And I think if we think of data as something that we have and repossessed, then we can choose when and if we want to share that with others. I think again, reimagining that agency that you have to pick and choose when and why not you want to share information about yourself is really key. I think it’s a scholar based in us that we have Benjamin who’s written about and informed refusal and this kind of flipping on the head of informed consent and action. We should be more thinking about when and how to engage with people who don’t want to see their data for whatever purposes. And I think things like the census, I’m of the view that we should maybe start by seeing how things go. But if ultimately the data is not used to make the lives of LGBTQ people better than actually, maybe we need to think about either reforming the system or ultimately abolishing it.
S1: One of the challenges in something like a census is, as you’ve mentioned, how many options do you give people for, how they identify you said, you know, they’re not counting non-binary people. And I remember there being a lot of sort of cheering in Queer media and in Queer circles, a lot of congratulatory coverage. A few years back when Facebook introduced, you know, five dozen different ways to identify yourself, gender bias, sexuality wise. And I think this that type of thing, you know, the pull down menu with innumerable options is what a lot of people think of when they think of good Queer data gathering. Because you’re not limiting how people identify themselves, you know, let’s give people a million ways that they can describe themselves in hopes that they can choose something accurate. But your explanation of what actually happened in that Facebook data gathering it kind of made me laugh. Like it was like a sad trombone response to the whole thing. Can you explain what that was all about?
S4: Yes, I knew people have written about this can drop down list all these new long lists the Facebook gender identity, sex renditions. And then when it was introduced at the back end, they were aggregated into kind of lumpy categories where regardless of what you were taking, you were just kind of thrown into a box where you were basically a general LGBTQ and user. I think it’s been similar stories for Netflix, other platforms where again, the aggregation data has lumped together black trans queer women into the same groups as fight game and this kind of just general aggregation of known street nonsense. And and I think for me, that brings a few different questions. I think that kind of illusion of diversity or that illusion of inclusion is something which kind of reappears in a few different parts of the book about actually organizations and systems which are designed to start way back. And they’re presenting this kind of glees of diversity or the glaze of inclusion in some situations can kind of offset some critiques of the overarching structure and things like the census. Again, you can kind of apply that same lens by adding question on sex orientation that potentially gives the structure system a longer shelf life because it seemed to be progressive, more inclusive. But are people like confined spaces written far more eloquently about Nikon? These advances and developments tend to benefit the least minority within minority groups. So, for example, something like a census when collect data on sexual tension, it tends to benefit in kind white, cisgender gay men and women the more.
S1: How does that work? What do you mean?
S4: How truth in Scottish Census are lesbian, gay, bisexual streets or other? There was some debate and some pushback around the inclusion of an other category in that list, and ultimately decision was made to keep the category as a response option with the right invokes. But if that category was dropped and lots of younger people, for example, identifying we were beyond LGB and that data would have been lost or aggregated into a more kind of catchall group. Mm hmm. We see similar arguments around the kind of legal legal fight for marriage equality and again tends to benefit people who are most likely to marry who were my cisgender, non-disabled, affluent gay men. Two women,
S1: one theme that you explore in the book that I found particularly interesting and a little bit confounding is the idea that the act of collecting data and asking questions of people can actually change those people. You know, the participants in a survey that it can actually help constructors solidify identities and not just sort of explain what’s already there? Can you explain that and how does that apply to queer and trans people?
S4: I think it’s a really fascinating idea before U.S. the big question, the big I guess the thoughtful question, and I think there’s maybe two or three strands strands to it. So one strand is some pushback around when people speak about data being it shouldn’t be validated, it shouldn’t be something that is of benefit to the respondent. And actually, I think there are many situations where there’s a lot of meaning in being counted. Being recognizing yourself reflected in a response option in a survey can actually mean a lot to people, and I think that’s something which we should never overlook. For example, in Scotland, I find it really exciting that next March, when we run the census, everyone will be asked about their sexual orientation. Whether you’re in a big kind of city like Glasgow or in a kind of small farm up in the Highlands. Again, that kind of sense of being seen being counted as a real important dimension to it. And I hope and I think actually that acts that process of opening up these conversations, raising consciousness about gender, sexuality can actually impact and change and people’s lives for the good. I think the second dimension to it is this area and this broader kind of question of how do we kind of construct knowledge and how do we produce knowledge through the method to be used as researchers not to get to academic or to do detailed about it. But there are something about how does our involvement in the process of observing things actually shape the things that we’re trying to observe. And when we think about service or we think about and conducting focus groups interviews. There is a question about actually, to what extent does asking somebody about the sex orientation or their gender identity open up or introducing new ideas about, Oh, I never thought of that, or, oh, that’s something which is quite new to me, or when it comes to actually seeing the data published, you think that you may be Queer but never met someone else who identified as Queer? Then you look at the data and see that five percent of the population in the country identified this way. What does it mean about building that sense of community through data or seeing yourself a part of a larger tapestry or a larger world beyond your own individual existence? And I think that’s a really exciting potential for data. Both Queer communities and historically, possibly one of the benefits of being counted is kind of positioning yourself beyond an individual as part of the larger community
S1: and even for straight people to to, you know, sort of force them to identify that like, yes, I have a sexual orientation too. And it’s one of many. And I’m not just sort of the norm from which everything else departs.
S2: Kevin, you write that you know, you intend this book to be certainly for people who are sort of working in these fields, but also for non-specialists as well to help us understand what’s going on there better. What would you hope our listeners and your readers who are indeed not specialists, sort of just take away from this at the end?
S4: I guess my one takeaway from the book is I hope people ask more questions about data, but particularly about quantitative data, about numbers. I kind of at some point in the book, kind of unpick and explore the idea of numbers never lie. And actually, I think there’s a lot of issues there still to be unpacked and challenged. I think around quantities, methods around quantity of data, around service, around big things like the census. Actually, my involvement in designing the Scottish Census really exposed to me that it’s full of biases, it’s full of politics, it’s full of power. And I think having that kind of critical eye to data is really key. And I think again, my my kind of background, the longer academic background is as a historian, it’s in history. And I think again, you can think actually historically, what’s the relationship between LGBTQ communities and data about LGBTQ communities? And historically, it’s a pretty bad relationship. And historically, data has been used about Queer communities to prove evidence of criminality or psychological problems of being different from the norm. And actually, that historical relationship between LGBTQ communities, in particular quantitative data still has ramifications today. And I think it’s having that critical eye to when. Why are we being candid with the benefits of being counted? Who is counting us and what end do they want to count us? And I think as long as people approach these exercises in these institutions with a critical eye and sometimes engage, but sometimes actually feel I’m not going to engage. I think that maybe my kind of key takeaway from the book,
S2: I think that’s a great one. Our guest has been Kevin Guyan. His new book is called Queer Data. Is out this month from Bloomsbury. Thanks so much for joining us, Kevin.
S4: Thank you, Brian. Thank you, Christina.
S1: Our next topic, the return of Sex and the City. Strap on your Manolo gals. Did I do that right? HBO brought the show back in December with all the marquee actors on board, minus Kim Cattrall as Samantha R.I.P.. Not really. She’s still alive. So there’s weirdly a lot of queer content in the reboot, including a bread delivery service that exclusively employs, you know, muscle bound gay men. But we’re not going to talk about that. We are here to discuss the two storylines involving trans characters. If you haven’t watched the series yet and you want to or intend to just ask why there are spoilers ahead, possibly up to and including episode seven. All right, now that you’ve all tuned out, we’re amongst friends here. The reason why I wanted to talk about this series with you two is not necessarily because the substance of the trans stories in the show is particularly groundbreaking, although maybe it is. We should definitely evaluate that. But mostly I found it notable and honestly peculiar, possibly suspect that trans people are playing pivotal roles in the story arcs of two of the three main characters. So both Miranda and Charlotte have, you know, trans people in their lives who are eliciting some personal transformation for them. That is a lot of trans for a show about cis people. So I want us to consider three main things. Why are these trans characters here? What do we think of them and their stories? And would you fuck with Chidi as well? And so I want to first. I just before I talk about my reaction, City is what do you to think? Why do you think the writers put trans people in these two story arcs?
S2: Can I ask for one, a quick thing before we do that, Cristina? Yeah, of course. I would just love to know all of our very quickly, all of our previous relationships to Sex and the city, because I think that will sort of shape in a lot of ways our reaction to this, to this reboot. So I’m just curious if we can just like hear that I’ll just very quickly say that mine was I didn’t see it when I was originally on, but someone in college gave me a hard drive. Another gay gave me a hard drive with the entire series. Oh my god. And I took it with me on a summer internship thing I did in Hong Kong and use it as a way of like feeling, I guess, connected to New York while I was there. And in a place that I sort of had not expected to go and ended up there by strange circumstances. So it meant a lot to me as like a show about New York and like a fairytale, certainly because so much of it is is a surreal, almost a fairytale about the city, for sure. So that’s that’s just my background. I’m curious what what you elss first,
S3: I like why somewhat missed the train on Sex and the city? And it’s probably because I was just one of those weirdo kids that wasn’t keeping up with pop culture in a lot of ways, like considering my gay preponderant since at the time, it’s sort of shocking. But then like, you know, as a future doll and a future New Yorker, I feel like Sex in the City was just sort of there by osmosis. You know, it was that kind of living, breathing cultural milieu that I kind of lived in with other people. And but it wasn’t like a religious we were. And I think that it’s weird before this reboot or sequel or whatever came out. A lot of people have kind of been coming back to the show and especially, you know, trans people for some of their just like, egregious ness. That was but. But I guess I was always one of those people that subscribe to the show as a kind of fantasy. And for me, it was like, Look, I have no real desire to be a rich white woman, and I think my stars every day that I’m not. But there is something fun about fantasizing about this like version of New York that’s not real. And this kind of, yeah, this this glamour and you know, all of the sorts of things that generally I like to extract from culture. So that’s kind of been, you know, in the background for me when coming to this new series.
S1: Yeah, that was it for me, too. I mean, I remember I didn’t have HBO, but my friend did. And so we would all, you know, in high school, be at her house and put on sex and the city. And we were very much into it, in part for the sex part because it was like graphic and explicit. And Samantha’s storylines basically got edited out when it was aired on TV or whatever.
S2: Syndicated, totally
S1: syndicated. That’s the word. Yes. But when you were watching it on HBO, it was super graphic. So we would all just sort of be like watching it with wide eyes. And, you know, I enjoyed the fashion of it. I enjoyed the candy coated little girl big city ness of it. But you know, yeah, it wasn’t a big fan, but probably watched all the episodes.
S2: Mm hmm. OK, so you’re. Question about the new series was why do we think all these 10 storylines are present?
S3: I mean, can I just say I like this series if it feels like a case of high? You know, it’s like I’m itchy all over and yes, you know, but I can’t ignore it. And yes, I’m rapidly consuming every episode. Yes, I’m participating in the memes and the tweets. And yes, I’m talking to all my girls about it. But I don’t know. There’s something really weird about this sort of broader genre right now, kind of like a male cult reboot in terms of us sequels where shows that haven’t been on the air for a while, but our iconic reboot and it’s like the only reason apparently to reboot them is to like, overcompensate for their past sins in a way that’s so embarrassing. And I’m a big fan of a phrase that are sisters over on the last couple, Teresa’s podcast used to talk about this kind of writing. I think they developed it to talk about The Morning Show, but they talk about like the writing room, the writers room being like the third graders. And it’s just like, you know, it’s like this kind of like strange genre of TV writing and that is just like way out there in some ways. And it’s just like it’s not even ham fisted, right? But it seems to me like the whole series is asking this really bizarre question that I’m like, Who’s asking this question in our culture, which is like how when rich white women today make sure that they can now belatedly be friends with rich black people and rich trans people? And I’m like, Who is this speaking to? Like, this is not a concern. And I just like, I find it so weird. And so it’s not just like this tried and true kind of American genre of like bringing in minority characters to like, give a tune up, you know, to the white every woman. In this case, it’s actually a lot weirder, I think. And I mean, I’m excited to get into this because I think some of the trans characters are like doing stuff that I just I’m like, What does this have to do with sex and the city? Like, why is there stand up comedy that the women keep referring to as a comedy concert? Why is that like? Why is there a Netflix stand up special in the middle of sex in the city? Or like, why is there now this like, you know, life changing, infamous kitchen fingering scene with Cynthia Nixon giving an orgasmic performance, you know, to remember forever. I just I have a lot of questions, and I feel like one of the fun things here is that like there might not be because the show is hot. Let’s face it, it’s just like not working hard enough to have answers. Yeah.
S2: I fully agree that it’s like a real scoop of, I think, impulses and like anxieties. So I’m happy. I’m glad that you feel that way. The only thing I would add to what you said, which I think is like exactly right, is it also strikes me and I know that there’s a whole writers’ room, there’s multiple directors. It’s not just Michael Patrick King who’s creating this. And yet the whole tone of it strikes me very much as like a gay man of a certain age working through his own discomfort and like growth process around gender and trans issues. It reminds me, in some ways of conversations I’ve had to have with a gay male elders about those issues have interesting and sort of the kinds of questions or preoccupy not even questions, but like preoccupations that they seem to have. That’s what it feels like to me almost any time these storylines come up. And so I think I think that’s just speaking to one of these weird anxieties that is present in the writing. You know, and again, it’s not just him writing it, of course, but nonetheless, I think that is sort of coming in from that perspective.
S1: Yeah. And I think the justification behind a lot of these reboots, and I would absolutely put the L word generation Q in this category is to show how well a like you said, jewels to respond to criticisms about the lack of diversity in the original version. And B and this is especially pronounced in and just like that, which is so awkward to put into conversation because of the way that it’s constructed. The whole theme seems to be like, Oh, these characters got old all of a sudden, and now how are they reacting to middle age? There was actually a really good piece in the New York Times by Rhonda Gorelick called Middle Age Doesn’t Happen Just Like That. And she talks about how strange and unrealistic it is for all of these characters to be commenting on how their bodies are changing and how they’re aging just in in regular conversation, as if they woke up from a dream and were suddenly 50 versus experiencing aging. And, you know, changing in the culture over time, organically little by little like they clearly have met black people before. And yet both Miranda and Charlotte are awkward around black people and trans people. So I feel like the writers of the show decided, you know what? Modern issues that point to signs of the times, will we have these characters be reacting to and they thought like, Oh, well, black people and trans people seem to be in the news a lot lately and our modern issues that people will have trouble interacting with. Let’s have let’s show how these characters are having trouble interacting with demographics of people that they have clearly been aware of before. And to your point, Jules, about who is this for? I mean, it’s clearly not for black people or trans people, because in the comedy concert that we were talking about, Che Diaz, who is non-binary, makes a joke about how if they had a penis, you know, succeeding in comedy would be so much easier. I would be hard pressed to think of a trans person who would make a joke equating having a penis with being a man. It just tells me that they’re trying to speak to anxieties that a very specific group of people who are a lot more like the main characters who are being forced to grow by these other side characters have then, you know, representing the actual populations that they have awkwardly inserted into this show. That said, I’m enjoying it,
S3: but that’s the thing, right? I mean, that’s the spooky like alchemy going on here is that I can’t tear my eyes away. And it’s not because it’s like a train wreck or a car crash, necessarily. But I think this is a really interesting aspect of what happens in the sort of adaptation from, you know, 20 ish, 20 plus years ago to today. And if the show original Sex and the City was always a little bit kind of like a gay man’s transposition into white women, right? Yeah, which was fun and playful and weird, there’s a way that that I think you’re totally right. Brain just like translates really weirdly now in particular in relation to gender. But in other ways, too. And I think that that question of like, what New York City are they living in, you know, where they’ve never interacted with trans people or black or brown or is just so being part of it too. It’s like, Oh gosh, all these shows that we’re like, we’re going to set ourselves in this fictional universe where COVID ended after the first season, and it’s like, Wow, plunged the dagger further into my heart. I don’t think it’s all that throwaway lines to the pandemic are just like, so violent now. But I think in general, it’s like, it’s so interesting to me that race and gender or race and transness are working in tandem, right? Like as a as a South Asian, as a daisy. We were all up in arms after the notorious Dybala episode, which has like very little devalue in it at all, but features Carey going to the quote unquote sari shop with my which say it with me again. People literally has zero saris in it. There are no saris on display. There really does. Yes. And like, OK, sorry linga. Fair enough. If you’re not like in the world, you may not know the difference, but it’s like kind of the basic distinction in front of party, where in south, and that’s pretty bare. And it’s just like one of these weird choices where it’s like, I’m so confused who made this mistake? Because then it really makes this line like, it’s not cultural appropriation, it’s cultural appropriation. And, you know, it just makes it fall really flat. And there’s a sort of defensiveness to the show that you like, undermined by what it’s showing us, where I’m like, It’s cool, it’s cool. Like if you want to put these middle aged white women in weird situations, put them in weird situations, but don’t be so cagey the whole time and then make these weird mistakes. Yeah, not just sort of put people on edge. And you know, it seems to me like, you know, some good revision and rewriting could have like cleaned up a lot of thought, but in some ways it’s still very compelling. And I do think there are some interesting questions about aging that come up like I was really thrown how like, suddenly for one episode only Carrie is getting a hip replacement. It’s like, Oh,
S2: so quick,
S3: so quick. And I’m like, I’m sorry. Is 55 supposed to be like ancient in our culture? All of a sudden, like, I don’t really consider fifty five to be like especially well, but then also it’s just like truly the magic of the shower right at the end of that episode. She’s like, and just like that. It’s been three months and I’m recovering and I’m like, Wait, wait, hold on. So hip replacement was like was like a plot device to do two things. One, pass some time because, you know, she’s grieving the loss of big whatever. But also, like apparently Carrie’s hip replacement was actually just a plot device to allow Miranda to have sex with Che Diaz and get in the kitchen. I’m like, I mean, look, queer people and trans sex happens and all sorts of beautiful ways. And I will say from personal experience, sometimes the plot lines that got you to sex are truly incredible and like, be on the minds of people and straight people like. Absolutely. And yeah, like we made Carrie Bradshaw get a hip replacement job around.
S1: Bingo. Yeah, that’s cold. That’s true allyship, actually. That’s right.
S3: She peed in a Snapple bottle Diablo called IPA.
S1: So I’m glad you brought up the sex scene us because there was a lot of chatter that I saw on the Queer internet about that scene. And I think there were a lot of straight people who thought it seems very unrealistic. In fact, there was a piece. I actually don’t know if the author was straight or not, but I’m just going to assume there was a piece on Russia daily titled This is why Miranda’s orgasm was so loud in and just like that.
S2: Oh my god, really
S3: like my other explanation for why? Because it was non-binary.
S1: OK, well, the explanation was that also, Michael Patrick King explained on a behind the scenes podcast. Now, as if everybody was asking why it was so loud, like because it was good sex, I don’t know. But apparently that was Cynthia Nixon’s interpretation of what Miranda would sound like in that moment, and she had this very animalistic reaction to having having sex after having not had sex in a while. The first time, having Queer sex and having sex with somebody as hot and swagger tastic as Cheney as I actually thought it was an extremely realistic and pretty hot. But I saw a lot of people saying, You know, there’s no chemistry here. This is absolutely ridiculous. It became a meme which, yes, it should have become a meme. And, as you say, the the whole premise of it that Kerry’s, you know, peeing in a bottle in the next room and that this Queer sex represents some kind of betrayal of the friendship. That’s a whole nother story. But yeah, I thought that was a good scene. And actually, I was making dinner as I was watching the episode and sort of just like, had my laptop open. I’m chopping things and my wife walks in and is like, You just stopped chopping for like a minute. My mouth open, like staring at the screen. What did you guys think of that moment? I mean, I’m blushing, just thinking about it.
S2: I don’t get the no chemistry. I definitely felt there was chemistry, and I could understand the heat of a moment like that for sure, for all the reasons that you described. I did find it a little bit more unsettling. And in fact, I had read a lot about it online before I actually saw it. And so when I saw it,
S1: I was like, I love the idea of you reading multiple articles about the sex scene. But no,
S2: it’s like tweet tweets and things just like people.
S3: I was like a nostalgia show. I was aware,
S2: I was aware that it was coming and I was like, OK. And yeah, it did leave me a little more unsettled. I mean, there’s there is the betrayal, there’s the peeing in the bed. But, you know, if it does intersect with this other, I think and I’m curious what you all felt about this, but this kind of strange storyline to me about Miranda having a sort of a brush with alcoholism that that’s woven throughout the show. Yeah, you’re right. I mean, the the thing that precedes the sex scene is them doing what seems to be quite a bit of shots in the middle of the afternoon, and Miranda seems to be a bit smashed. And so I’m not going to raise this to level of like, was it consensual? But like it undermines the sexual discovery that I think the show is maybe trying to get out with her to have it be mixed up with with that thing that the show clearly thinks is a huge problem for this character.
S1: I totally glossed over that in my mind. I was just so taken with it, but you’re absolutely right.
S2: And afterwards, you know, Carrie, Carrie is upset and is like, What the hell was that? What’s going on? Like, I peed the bed and you know, she’s like, Oh, I was like, super drunk. Like, you know, I guess I lost track of what I was doing. So, and again, it feels like what Jules was saying earlier that like the show has a lot of different desires, but it’s not being very controlled about how it puts them together. And so as hot as that sort of scene may have been in the abstract, I think it was framed in a very strange way that made it uncomfortable for me.
S3: Yeah, I feel similarly. I mean, I think, you know, there’s there’s a whole conversation to be had about, like, why would someone like Che Diaz be attracted to someone like Miranda that I don’t think? Let me just put it this way. The show doesn’t have an answer for that, right? And that’s just sort of in general. I think the problem we’re talking about is that trans people and people of color are just around these white women, and the show has no idea what I mean. In some cases, it sort of does. The answer is class because they’re rich. OK, sure. But but hey, I’m not exactly sure. And I think there’s a way that that scene really instrumentalized is Che’s character in the sense that like, and don’t get me wrong, I am not coming for service tops like I love you. I have benefited from many, but she doesn’t matter, you know? But there’s this way that, like Che is sort of there, and it’s like unclear why. She wants to get with Miranda, other than Chase character has been established as bisexual and non-binary in the definition of crazy horny, always having sex with everyone, and it’s like it’s not really a personality and like, there is a way that I think like in house like we sometimes, you know, like trans folks and Queer folks like we willingly perform our hypersexuality or our horniness because like, look, it’s a form of reclamation and we’re showing that we’re not afraid. I’m not sure that that’s something that we do for Random Street, just audiences, right? Yeah. And so it’s sort of like all I can divine from this series so far about which he wants to have sex with Miranda is that he just has sex with everyone all the time constantly. I mean, it’s like it’s this derivative of the same problem that their character has where, like for several episodes, they were constantly walking into a room and being like, Hello, it’s me, che Diaz, the comedian. It’s like the first thing that happens like we know, and it just feels that way, too, about their gender and sexuality where they’re like, Hello, it’s me che Diaz. Horny, non-binary, like bisexual, who has, like, I’m sure, very practiced hands and is able to do great work. But it’s like literally after Miranda comes, they’re like. Anyways, I got to go to Jersey super cool, slick. And it’s like, Well, sure, like, I give
S2: them some idea.
S3: I really slide into my arms. I’m like, You can’t say that to Cynthia Nixon, my GWOT. And so I think there’s a lot of like again decontextualized content happening. And the pairing with the alcoholism is so weird again because of this kind of interval. You know, this lapse in between the last series and this one where we’re like, OK, where we’re led to believe that Miranda has since come to find her life is boring. She quit her job. She’s got an Emmy where she works with this brilliant black woman, black feminist professor that she’s constantly putting in outrageous, racist situations and who apparently still likes her for no reason. And like, and then she’s also drinking, but like, but whatever. And then she just like stops. I mean, it’s just like, it’s all so thin, right? And I think sometimes, yeah, like, yeah, you know, we turn to television, and I think there’s an interesting question to ask about, like what what we want from prestige TV right now, especially several years into a pandemic where it’s like escapism is more important than ever, but like the imperfection of human action has never been more on display. And it’s like, I want imperfect people, right? But I don’t want them to be so almost like clownish in their actions. It’s like Miranda’s alcoholism is like again, it really feels like, you know, like a middle school essay on alcoholism. Yes, alcoholism is when Auntie Miranda has three little Tino’s bottles in her expensive bag and gets too excited about like prosecco at brunch. And it’s like, sure. And then by the flip side that makes these trans characters like Che Diaz just seem really superficial and mono dimensional.
S2: Yes. I want to just say that the Cheetos bottles were camp. For me, that was like the craziest thing, because for one, she would have like Great Goose for sure. But to just have it, just having kids in her bag with such an absurd
S3: like three little
S1: nips doing. Yeah, yeah,
S2: like, oh, she’s just pouring that into her coffee. Like, what’s going on? It’s like, whatever that whole subplot is bad and I rebuked it.
S1: That seems like a good place to wrap up. This was such a fun conversation. Listeners, I would love to hear your perspective on and just like that. You can email us with your thoughts at Outward Podcast at Slate.com.
S3: Well, that’s about it for this month, but before we go, we’ve got your monthly updates to the gay agenda. Brian, why don’t you kick us off? What do you have to add to our agenda?
S2: I know I had a double provocation and I hope I can have a double gay agenda to you. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t choose. So one is a deliciously vicious review attack assassination of Hanya Yanagihara as new novel by Andre along to you. This isn’t Vulture. It’s called Haniyeh’s boyos. If you’re going to look it up, I’m not speaking about the novels themselves because I’ve not read it. But what I am sort of recommending and praising here is just the genre of like the the hateful piece of criticism where the critic just clearly does not like the artist’s body of work. That is what she is up to in this review. It’s mainly about Yanagihara as sort of penchant for holding her gay male characters in sort of a weird, abusive relationship. And I had heard a lot of people talk about a little life, which was the novel from 2015 in those terms, and so it was just really nice to see a long, nasty piece of criticism pulling out all of all of those themes and really, really taking them to task. So that’s called Haniyeh’s voice as an vulture, and I just want to say one line from it very quickly, just as a little sample. Indeed, if a little life was opera, it was not Largo, though it was rent.
S3: Oh, OK. Truly the meanest thing anyone has ever said.
S2: Hostel Hostel. Now I love it. My other one was another little Christmas present I got this year, but I just think it’s the gayest thing I’ve ever been given, and so I want everyone to know about it. Are you all aware of liquor filled chocolates? Little in the shape of bottles? Do you know the concept? Yeah, it’s a concept. I was not. Yes, sir. So it is possible to purchase these little chocolate liquor bottles I’m talking about like an inch tall bottles in the shape of a bottle of these that are filled with the actual liquors. So like, I don’t know, Galliano or Cointreau or anything like that, you can buy a little set of them and they’re so cute they come wrapped in little foil. You bite the ends off and like, sip out the liquor and tilting my head back in a very gay way. You can see it, and then you eat the little chocolate. So fucking cute and so gay. And every time I eat one, I just feel super fancy flowing in this shepherd. They’re only like twenty three dollars for the set. For what?
S1: Oh, for the set.
S2: For the set. And they’re for like 12 of them or something. But they are delicious and cute, and you will just feel as fast as anything. So if you need like a stocking stuffer or just a little gift for somebody, this is this is my recommendation.
S1: See if and just like that were gayer, those would have been jingling around in Miranda’s bag. Yes. Yes, yes. Out of the net.
S2: Exactly. Yeah, yeah, that’s right. So those are my two, you, Jules. What do you have for the Agenda?
S3: Well, I have a sort of sister podcast recommendation, something that if you’re feeling the kind of hangover and problematic trans representation from and just like that, go over and tune in to harsh reality, a podcast about Miriam Rivera, who is a trans woman and reality TV star who appeared on this really weird British TV show in the early 2000s, called There’s Something About Miriam. And you know, those of you who are who are around at the time might remember this kind of infamous show. It was their reality dating show on the Sky Network. Queer Miriam was sent off to Ibiza with all of these horny young British lads to compete for her love, you know, just sort of like any number of other shows at the time. But none of the man knew Miriam terrible secret that she was trans, and they reveal it at the very last episode of the show, and it became just like a worldwide media sensation. There was a lawsuit. Things got really hectic, and there is a lot of aftermath, and I don’t want to spoil all of it. But you know, there’s this incredible podcast featuring another one of our beloved tasteless that as our narrator and host, DAX with the most stuff also put together with one of my favorite trans cultural producers, Morgan and Page, who’s a historian and runs her own podcast as well. But it’s this really interesting kind of, you know, anatomy are sort of like postmortem of the show, kind of unpacking it and, you know, with interviews and asking some really interesting questions again about this kind of time span, right? Like what has changed in trans representation from you two or three to now, but also actually what hasn’t and how the kind of spectacular ization of trans women on TV actually maybe hasn’t changed as much, even if we sort of understandably react. With cringe, you know, to this kind of framing of trans womanhood in terms of deception. To me, what’s so interesting other than just having a chance to go back, because how often do we really have the chance to go back to these sorts of weird one-off shows that become sensations and actually say a lot, right? And sit with people who were impacted by that and have it really thoughtfully unpacked by trans women, right? Like that really makes the difference. Plus, that work is incredible and mean. She, for example, narrates some of Miriam writing online. And, you know, just kind of, you know, interjects with what she knows from that moment. And there’s something really powerful about that. But just sort of formally and I’m curious if listeners have thoughts about this after they after they take a look. It’s really hard to go back and do a show about a reality show because in some ways, the podcast series has to use the format of the reality series, right? We’re so accustomed to this in these kinds of podcast shows now where it’s like slowly unwinding and then the twist and the shocker and the payoff and then the aftermath. And it’s really interesting to sort of watch brilliant, talented, incredibly smart trans women take on that task with thoughtfulness and aplomb. So I highly recommend. Harsh reality, which is available everywhere that you get podcasts. If you’re already listening to us here, you can surely take some time. Seven fantastic episodes. Well, worth a listen.
S1: My god, that sounds so good. I had no idea about that show.
S3: Yeah, it really happened.
S1: Wow. I am recommending a book this month. It came out a year ago, but I only just recently read it on the recommendation of a friend. It’s called Milk Fed by Melissa Broder. Oh my god, what a disturbing and sexy and disorienting and, you know, disgusting book. It was so good. It’s a very quick read. A very, I won’t say easy read because again, it’s very. Affecting, but it’s about this woman in L.A. who has an eating disorder, she’s obsessed with being thin. And then she gets acquainted with this fat Orthodox Jewish woman who works at the frozen yogurt store that she goes to every day and starts making her these, you know, decadent sundaes that she can’t resist. She becomes obsessed. The, you know, protagonist, I guess, becomes obsessed with this frozen yogurt cashier learns to love food again has these incredibly vivid and depraved sexual fantasies and experiences that lead to some personal growth. It’s just such a pleasure to read. The descriptions of food and sex are very similar and intertwined, and clearly these two things are related in, you know, the protagonist’s. Internal life, and I really enjoyed it, not because the Queer love story or lust story at the center of it is particularly aspirational, it seems. There are many parts of it that seem very unhealthy and exploitative, but there are parts of it that. Contain some really fresh feeling observations about the connection between what we want and how we feel about ourselves and how desire, you know, stems from within, and so it’s it’s very related in a lot of ways to how we see ourselves. It’s also one of the few pieces of literature that I’ve read that describes at length graphically, you know, sex with fat people who are hot because they’re fat, which I really enjoyed reading. I did read an interview with the author, who said her agent cut about 50 percent of mentions of the clitoris in the book, but there’s still plenty to go around. Honestly, I can’t even imagine there being 50 percent more. So I hope that sells it for you. Again, it’s called Milk Fed by Melissa Broder.
S2: Sold. Yeah, I totally sold. All right. That is the show for this month. Please send us feedback and topic ideas at Outward Podcast at Slate.com, or you can hit us up on Facebook or Twitter at Slate Outward. Myron is our wonderful producer. June Thomas is the senior managing producer of Slate Podcast. And if there was a real Queer currency, her portrait would surely be on the highest denomination. If you like Howard, please subscribe and your podcast app. Tell your friends about it and rate and review the show so that others can find us and join in the fun hour. We’ll be back in your feeds on February 16. Until then, goodbye, Christina by Brian and Jules. Welcome to the show again. Can’t wait to have you next month.
S3: Thank you so much. Take care and keep Stratton OK and ninety five.
S2: All right, everybody, stay game.