How to Read a New York Times Story About Trans Kids

Listen to this episode

Brian Lauter: Hello and welcome to Outward Slate’s podcast about queer culture, politics, magic and whatever else we want to talk about. Because as Trixie and Katya would say, it’s our show and not yours. Actually, it is. It is your show to me. We’re not we’re not quite so possessive about it. It’s everybody’s show. This is our November episode. I am Brian Lauter. I am finally back from Berkeley. I was. I am so happy to be back in your podcast Arms. And what I think I do is edit things that say, allegedly. I don’t remember exactly, but I. But I think that’s what I do hear.

Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: Sounds more or less right. No, we’re so glad that you’re. You’re back, Brian. I am, as always. Am just Gill-Peterson. And this month, Brian and Christina. I’m going to pause your Puberty. So get ready. Oh, sorry. Sorry.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: I’m Christina Cauterucci, a senior writer at Slate. And, you know, maybe it’s like the November of it all, but I’m just feeling extra grateful this month to see your lovely faces on my little computer.

Brian Lauter: Oh, yeah. All right, so this month, we are bringing you two major trans news stories from recent weeks. One that is not so great. And we’re going to get into why that is and one that is really exciting indeed. We’ll start with a discussion of the New York Times’s latest article about trans kids and gender affirming care, this time about puberty blockers and bone density, and how it is playing into the ongoing, manufactured and weaponized conservative panic about trans existence, which we’ve talked about on the show for months now. And it’s apparent that we’ve seen escalated pretty seriously in state legislatures this fall. But is there a cost?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Brian Lauter: Asked the Times. Yes, but maybe not the one that they think. Then we’ll turn to a really thrilling trans. When New Hampshire representative elect James Risner became the first out trans man to be elected to any state legislature in U.S. history during this month’s midterm elections. And we’ve got him on the line today to discuss his historic victory and his hopes for the Granite State, a state that we here on the podcast loved for this excellent act of democracy, as well as because it gave us our dear Christina life.

Brian Lauter: We’ll also have our usual prides and provocations and our updates to the gay agenda. But first, I have something really lovely to share from our thoughts and queries inbox. So a listener named Peter Reardon with this really nice addendum to last month’s discussion about the Library of Congress and LGBTQ archives. Peter Having just retired from a 46 year career as a public librarian, I am always thrilled to hear my wonderful profession extolled in such an enthusiastic way. Well, we all love libraries here, so that is the same here, right? And since the topic was LGBTQ history, I hope you were aware that the American Library Association was the first professional association in the US to have an officially sanctioned LGBTQ subgroup. It was called the Task Force on Gay Liberation, founded in 1970, and it still exists today as the Rainbow Roundtable.

Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Oh, so.

Brian Lauter: Cool, So cool. So I looked into this just for a second because I confess that I was not aware.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Peter And.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: You have in fact checked Peter.

Brian Lauter: And I not.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Just trust whatever.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Brian Lauter: It is. Well, I wasn’t going to say it way, but verify. I wanted to quickly check. And actually, I found a wealth of fascinating information about this, about this group. And we really could do a whole segment about it. But I wanted to share just quickly a little entry about the group’s founding that I found on their sort of historical writings on their website.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Brian Lauter: So here’s an entry about how they were founded on July 1st, 1970, at American Library Association annual conference in Detroit, the Task Force on Gay Liberation met for the first time. It was a social and consciousness raising event. We love a consciousness raising. And it was held with members of the Detroit Gay Liberation Front. The initial goals of the group included the creation of bibliographies, revision of library classification schemes and subject headings, building and improving access to collections and fighting job discrimination. Barbara Giddings put together for this a list of 37 gay positive books, magazine articles and pamphlets, the first version of a resource that would become known as a gay bibliography.

Advertisement

Brian Lauter: So that not all happened at the ALA and the 1970 and 1970. And it’s just fascinating and there’s so much more. So I encourage you to go, our listeners to go look up the Rainbow Roundtable and you can find out a lot more. Thanks to Peter for this really wonderful fact and to the ALA for leading the way on this.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: And listeners, if you want to be our next Peter and share a great fact with us or even if you just have a question for us or an idea or even. Constructive criticism. Always, always, always.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Email us at outward podcast at Slate.com. And, you know, we actually love hearing your voices, too. So you can always send a voice memo. And we may just play it on the show. You know, given that the holidays, Tim, are coming up, were collecting any queer holiday quandaries or advice questions that you want us to ponder? We love to meddle and and help. So again, our email address is outward podcast at Slate.com.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: So now it’s time for our prides and provocations. In case this is your first time listening to us. Just a reminder, a pride. You can probably guess what that is. And Provocations. While that is a tribute to Bette Porter’s seminal art exhibition. In the original version of the L Word.

Speaker 4: Provocations is intended to do just that provoke. It is daring, it is intense, and it is the edge we have been looking for.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Well, so this month, since it’s Thanksgiving, we thought we’d all bring a prize. I also realized that I’ve done a provocation for the last 70 episodes, so I was.

Advertisement

Brian Lauter: Really.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Happy to find something to be proud about. But you guys go first, Jules. How are you feeling this month?

Jules Gill-Peterson: So I’m feeling proud and think for good.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: You follow the assignment?

Jules Gill-Peterson: I followed the assignment. Yeah. So my pride is, oddly enough, about Twitter, which is famously, you know, as of the time of this recording, on its 100th day in a row of today’s the last day Keds, Elon Musk has has really, you know, done it. So who knows what the situation will be when that episode comes out. But what I’m proud about is not what’s happening to Twitter, to be clear. What I’m proud about is that if Twitter is going to end, if it’s going to go down in one nasty billionaire’s, you know, trademarked blaze of glory, I’m glad that it’s going down a little bit on our gay ass terms.

Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: And by that I mean specifically a certain kind of female impersonation. And by female on presentation, it actually mean impersonating corporate brands on Twitter. Because I don’t know if you all have been seeing this, but, you know, ever since Elon really basically removed the whole point of verification, the blue checkmark, if you will, and it’s just something you pay $8 a month for.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: Of course, on the one hand, have a bunch of right wing neo-Nazi white supremacists gotten verified all of a sudden? Yes, they have. But on the other hand, have a bunch of people who I can only assume due to their good taste and sense of irony, must all be gay. Have they also bought $8 impersonation accounts of things like Lilly Pharmaceuticals, the evil multinational corporation that has jacked up the price of insulin and impersonated them and tweeted fake messages from that brand which led to Lilly pharmaceutical stock being devalued by tens of billions of dollars.

Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: Yes. Yes, our gay asses have. And I am very proud of that because if there’s one thing that we should be doing at the end of the world, it’s throwing a great party under any circumstances and always, always finding an excuse to get dressed up in drag, even if it’s Lilly pharmaceutical drugs. So very proud of that thing.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Crashing the store skin.

Jules Gill-Peterson: While we’re at it. Crash that market, baby. It’s not for.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Us. I really hope that we get sued for defamation from the, like, super straight and homophobic person who was the actual like.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Oh my God, right.

Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Person.

Brian Lauter: Being gay is no longer defamatory. Christina That’s Iran.

Speaker 5: That’s a confirmation.

Jules Gill-Peterson: It’s like with the century.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Brian What are you proud about this month?

Brian Lauter: So one of the things that got me through my book Leave, which was lovely in a lot of ways, but of course, you know, had its moments of struggle was AMC is a new version of Interview with the Vampire. Are you all watching this at all? Not yet. Okay, great. Well, you have something wonderful to look forward to. As I say, it’s on AMC. It’s based on the Anne Rice novels that there was a famous 1994 movie that a lot of people saw and loved about it. But y’all, this is the it’s excellently made, for one thing, but it is also the actual gay romantic comedy that we’ve been waiting for. And I know last month we spoke about prayers and that the measure of the gay romantic comedy, this is what we actually want. I think they’ve taken and write the story and supercharge the gay aspects.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Brian Lauter: And what it really is at core is a queer domestic kind of dramedy. And I’m like, often just gasping and cackling at the relationship aspects of the story. Louis and Lestat are just like, perfect love, hate by a gay couple. They’re like, retire each night to their beautifully appointed coffin. Bickering about who’s cheating on him or their disciplinary approach to their child Vampire Claudia.

Brian Lauter: Like all of this, things are happening. Everyone is great in it. And but Lestat in particular, who apparently is a straight as an actor, which is like blows my mind, is particularly queeny and delicious and just like a delight to watch, like mincing around, you know, maliciously around the screen. So it was kind of scary to think that AMC was buying all the rights to Rice’s books. They’re like, I own everything now and they’re going to do the witch books and everything else, too. But if this series is any indication, they’re going to handle it really well and it is going to be very, very queer.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Wow.

Brian Lauter: Christina, what do you think?

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Well, mine is almost like a future pride, actually. Literally. So DC has been named the host of World Pride 2025.

Brian Lauter: Oh, shit.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Wow. I can’t say I know exactly what that means. All right.

Brian Lauter: New York. New York can tell you. Yeah.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Okay, cool. So correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe it means that all the queers in the world are coming to D.C. in, like, two and a half years. They. Our world pride is. Yeah. So I’m thinking about this, and I’m thinking if they’re coming over in two and a half years, like, we need to get our house straightened up as soon as possible, because I am not sure that our existing gay infrastructure can keep up. So I was thinking, I have a plan.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: So the Olympics and the World Cup, I don’t know if you guys have heard of these things. They’re like big sports events. And every now and never. So when a city gets picked for one of these things they like, the city kind of goes all out and they build these big sports complexes and stadiums to accommodate all the games. Like, really impressive architects will come in and build things like the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. We need that for the games. We need this all hands on deck. Push to get more gay infrastructure built before 2025. So my plan We need a line item in the D.C. Council budget for a series of drag performances. Yeah, we need a new network of bathhouses and dungeons with free high volume public transit options connecting the. We need hydration stations around the city filled with choppers.

Brian Lauter: Oh, my God.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: I need Renzo Piano to build us a gigantic dyke bar with pool tables on one side, deejays on the other. And I feel like if we all band together and lobby our council, we can be ready in 2025 for all the queers in the world to come to D.C.. Oh, yeah. I’m just saying, all of our D.C. listeners, I know you’re out there. Let’s organize. Let’s lobby. I’ll be your leader. I’m ready to lead on this. Do me your suggestions, because, you know we only have two and a half years. There is not a moment to waste.

Brian Lauter: Yeah.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Folks, she’s running. She’s running. I heard it here first.

Brian Lauter: ANNOUNCER This is not enough.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: But confetti just dropped. You can’t see it. Over the podcast. But I did have, like, a confetti and balloon drop. I really just want to show everyone a good time. So I’m committed to at least doubling our gay infrastructure in the next two and a half years. I believe it can be done.

Brian Lauter: It can be done. If there’s the will, there’s a way for sure. Yeah.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Listeners.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Did you see the latest trans health care exposing in The New York Times? I know, I know. But this latest installment is titled They Passed Puberty. But is there a cost? It’s written by two journalists, Megan Twohey and Christina Jewett, and it’s based both in months of reporting and a very odd in-house, quote unquote, study commissioned by The New York Times. And I’ll have more to say about if you saw this piece that presents a supposedly difficult and high stakes debate over trans children’s medical care playing out between doctors and medical associations and scientists on the one hand and Republican politicians on the other.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Okay, but wait, but wait, wait. Have we heard this story before? How we heard this story like 1 million times at this point in 2022. But if a never ending story is about apparently how uncertain or difficult transition is for some people haven’t gotten to the bottom of the issue, I think it’s actually worth asking what this article is even about and actually maybe how to read it, especially this month of all months. Because, you know, I’ve seen speculation online that The Times commissioned this piece, assuming that there would be a red wave in the midterm elections, vindicating the idea that voters are motivated by anti-trans politicians to elect Republicans. I don’t know that there’s any truth to that whatsoever. But that red wave did not materialize, at least on the national level. But if we zoom into some key states, it’s not so clear to me that transphobia lost at the ballot box.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: So in the very same week that we get this article from The New York Times, here’s a quick hit list of other things that have happened. Tennessee proposed a ban on drag queens claiming that drag is inherently a sexual performance, which is like straight up classical homophobia. Then Texas filed a bill that would make it a felony for a venue to host a drag show if that venue ever permits minor’s entry at any time. And how does that bill define drag? Not joking. It defines drag as a trans person. So the bill says, quote, Drag performance means a performance in which a performer exhibits a gender identity that is different than the performer’s gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup or other physical markers.

Jules Gill-Peterson: So this bill is so extreme that the way it’s written, it looks like if I were to go to Texas and say, give a public lecture, which is something I do all the time, I could be arrested for doing drag. Okay. And if that wasn’t enough, Texas was also ready to file a House bill that would imprison parents who get their kids access to gender affirming care like the Blockers talked about in this Times article, as in lock up the parents.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Okay. Meanwhile, Jeopardy champion Amy Schneider, remember her? We talked about her. She traveled to Ohio this week to testify against a state House bill that would not only bad gender affirming care for minors, but would also force counselors, nurses, teachers and principals at schools to out gender nonconforming kids, to unsupportive parents, putting them in danger. We’ve also seen a new state Senate bill in Illinois that would ban trans kids from playing sports. And Virginia also released a bill in its state House to do the same. Also, opening the door to genital inspections of school age children has its enforcement mechanism. Okay, so here are our latest assaults on LGBT rights, many of which are targeting trans kids specifically. So is that the reason the New York Times wants us to think about puberty blockers? And now? Not according to the article. So I think we should sit down and figure out what on earth is going on.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: So, Kristina and Brian, would you be willing to go on a little debunking journey with me today?

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: I would really appreciate that, Jules, because let me just say something about this article. I feel like it’s very easy for somebody who doesn’t think about these types of things all the live long day like we do to read this article and sort of see it as, you know, like, well, they’re raising some very important questions or like, yes, we should be talking about the side effects or potential side effects of puberty blockers. What’s wrong with a piece like this? But I think as we’ll show and hopefully you’ll point out, because this is like right up your alley, Jules, you’re like the foremost expert on trans youth and history and, like, the entire world. It feels like there’s a lot of insidious assumptions and just like, false equivalency is being made that I can’t wait to talk about with you. So please take us on this journey.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Yeah. While you’re totally right, I mean, you know, this article that, you know, as Michael Hobbes, a reporter who’s really been keeping tabs on this genre of just asking questions, journalism pointed out. Like the article actually never marshals any real evidence for its leave worry. So. So let’s get into the lead. Worry what actually is the concern about puberty blockers and I’ll get into what those are in a moment but I actually think it’s good to start with what the article says we should worry the most about. And it turns out the biggest worry is about a possible future problem. Really, really exciting bone density issues in adulthood for people who pause puberty in adolescence. So in other words, the big, big, big concern about people who pass puberty supposedly is just like a side effect, right? This is a very normal thing. When you go to the doctor and you’re prescribed a medication, even if you just buy an over-the-counter medication at the pharmacy like side effects.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: Yes. This is a very normal thing that you have to consider. And obviously, we all make decisions, right, based on the possibility of what the medication could do that could be positive in our lives and the potential risks of side effects. So it’s already when we arrived there, like, okay, like what’s yeah, like side effects. That’s like a normal thing that you do and deal with in medical care. And so the issue is that if you pass puberty, it’s possible, you know, your bone density over time, you know, might be a little lighter than you would want to. But, you know, is that mean we have no idea what to do about this? Doctors are completely in the dark. Have no way.

Jules Gill-Peterson: No, actually, like, of course, every single doctor who prescribes puberty blockers is very invested in managing bone density. They know this is an issue, so it’s very likely that they’ll want to keep monitoring bone density levels, do testing, and, you know, managing that really involves basically, I bet what all listeners could guess right off the bat. Vitamin D, calcium supplements, care of your bones like kids and bones already a thing. How many annoying milk campaign ads did we have to grow up with so you know the question that that brings us to it’s like even let’s say if there is actually it turns out a really heightened risk that you might be susceptible to fracturing a bone in adulthood if you suspended puberty, which is what the Times says is the issue. Right. That might be a problem for some people. Is that really a reason to stop trans children from being allowed to transition when we know that not being allowed to transition is something that causes serious distress, suffering.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: Right. And even put your life at risk because it’s so painful to have to go through puberty you didn’t want. And I just, you know, always want to, you know, put this back to people, right? Like, put yourself in the shoes of someone like this. Imagine if you were at the doctor’s office and your doctor’s like, well, there’s a life changing medication I can prescribe you that will make you feel happy at home in your skin and give you autonomy and control back of your own life. Well, shouldn’t it be up to you to decide if that’s worth any potential side effects? Or in this case, obviously, because we’re talking about people who are minors, it’s something you have to talk about with your parents or guardian in concert with your doctor.

Jules Gill-Peterson: And so, you know, one of the things that Michael Hobbes pointed out on Twitter talking about this piece that I really appreciated is that he said that the objections to gender affirming care are the objections to basically all medical treatments for children, right? Either we trust adults and doctors to make decisions for kids or we don’t. But only the services aimed at marginalized populations, hubs that are held to this standard. Right. And and so the Times sort of just presents us this kind of issue of bone density as if it’s really supposed to tug at our heartstrings. But I don’t know about you. Obviously, I’m so biased, but I’m like, if bone density is the only skeleton pun intended, you can pull out of this closet like honey. And that don’t impress me much. As Shania Twain famously said, I mean, what do you make of this bone density? Doesn’t it just feel like such a point out?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: One of the things that really stood out to me in this piece is like a huge, like rotating red emergency light emoji was one of the anecdotes they pulled out. Like as an editor of this piece, I’d be like this Like, what you’re saying here doesn’t make scientific sense. The anecdote talks about someone, a youth who was on puberty blockers, who ended up stopping because a bone scan showed that their bone density was alarmingly low. And it says, you know, that problem was caused by the blockers. But it also said that that was the only bone scan that had ever been performed on the patient and it was well into their treatment. So we actually don’t know what their baseline bone density was. So how can you say that the problem was caused by the blockers if you only and that also seems like.

Brian Lauter: Yeah.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Adopt like poor care from that doctor because obviously you should be if you know that this is a potential side effect of a drug like a good doctor providing good care would be providing a bone scan at the outset of treatment and regularly throughout the course of treatment, it just felt like, okay, also this is once one anecdote that you’ve pulled out, so that already does not exist, a trend. And number two, it’s just bad science that would never actually be published as evidence of anything.

Brian Lauter: Yeah. The question itself, I think is like a legitimate question. Like as as you were saying, Jules, like it is right to be concerned about medicine and side effects. That is something that we live with as consumers of medical care, like in the world. So I don’t think anyone is coming at this saying like this shouldn’t be asked or shouldn’t be examined or thought about. Of course, the doctors and the patients and the parents that are already in this situation are thinking about it. So I don’t know that The New York Times, like, needed to come out and like, do it for them, that they’re aware of this.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Brian Lauter: Right. But I kept finding myself wondering, like, what would a queer or trans centered version of this piece look like versus what we got here? Right. I think it is one that would have foregrounded the lifesaving benefits of these blockers much more that, as mentioned sort of in passing, it is not like the soul of the piece and the way that it should be. It’s like like this.

Brian Lauter: This treatment allows people to live, right. Many, many, many people survive adolescence because of this treatment and indeed may choose to risk with it with their parents. Of course, as you say, it’s a minor issue, but like may choose the risk of the side effect in favor of that thing. And that is like looking at it that way is a is a sort of vote in favor of like the queer of Queer Life, queer joy, queer, thriving. Those are the things that I would want to see in a piece like this if I were going to trust it as a as a, you know, good parsing of of of the issues at play. Right. I would be much more likely to to, to be interested in what this what these reporters had to show if I didn’t feel like it was being told completely from a societal perspective with really no concern about like the trans experience at all.

Brian Lauter: And I also found myself, you know, drawing an analogy to to prep, which is not not necessarily a it’s not exactly the same because of the issue of minors. But Prep is a drug that I have taken every day for many, many years now to prevent HIV. Right. It comes with a kidney. Issues arose. This is new and this is a side effect. I have to go in every three months to get tested, to get my prescription renewed, and to get my kidneys tracked to be sure that that I’m not having troubles for this. Right. I can imagine a similar piece to this being like, well, sometime down the road you might have like kidney issues. So, my goodness, having the kind of sex you want to have now, is that really worth it? Is there a cost?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Brian Lauter: Well, there might be a cost, but I would much rather have chosen to be able to have condom of sex for as long as I have than worry about that. Right. And that’s like that’s a queer focused choice because I’m thinking about my, like, gay pleasure. But before I am the other thing reading this piece, it’s just impossible not to see it being so cis focus. And it kind of makes you crazy. Like the more you, you look at it that where.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: It sort of posits gender dysphoria as, as like not a condition worth treating like any other. Yeah. Where it’s like, oh well that’s sort of an option that you like can treat it or you don’t have to and like maybe it’s better not to if there’s a side effect because it’s so optional. You know, our colleague Evan Urquhart in a piece in Slate made the point that it’s actually not that many people who are getting treated. It’s like a, you know, couple of thousand minors, but that shouldn’t even matter. It’s just the fact that, like, it’s it does not feel like an option to a great number of people.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: And, you know, the one person perhaps you were meaning to get to this later, Joel, So I apologize if I’m stepping on your toes. But they, you know, have sort of three people who have taken puberty blockers that they use as like main characters in the piece. One of them didn’t even have bone density issues. So I was kind of like, they’re just a or she’s just a detransition or and so I’m not sure why she was in the bone density piece, but she was basically like, Well, I wish that my doctor had sort of asked me more questions, but this is somebody who, at the age of 13 was already binding, exhibited a strong desire to transition. The reporter say she felt thrilled by the prospect of going on puberty blockers and then fixated on continuing her medical transition by going on.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: T Well, if you’ve been exhibiting a strong desire to transition for 3 to 4 years, that seems to me like plenty of time for doctors and parents to say like, okay, this child knows what they want, and if the child comes to regret it later, like a lot of people regret decisions that they make later and they find ways to deal with it.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: And the so like sort of the underlying presupposition in this piece is that there are certain. Consequences that are worse than others. And the the sort of value set that these journalists have is that the consequences of regretting your whatever medical transition you’ve gone through later is worse than being forced to not transition and then dealing with those consequences of having gone through puberty and developing those secondary sex characteristics that you don’t want, which is also a lifelong consequence. And yet it’s a it’s a much smaller percentage of people that undergo the first set of were coming to regret it later. And so it makes no sense to me. And indeed, Brian, as you said, it would only make sense from a very self-focused perspective to consider those consequences of like a detransition or worse than the ones that, you know, a trans person may suffer.

Brian Lauter: Yeah.

Jules Gill-Peterson: I am so glad you both brought about those points up and so helpful. And you know, maybe for your listeners, I want to offer a few little debunking points, but then shift back to that question of like, well, what’s the real question here? Because there is actually an important question and it’s almost the opposite of what the Times thinks. But. Right, you know that the piece really only has two points, right? One is that bone density is somehow a big concern. It can’t really marshal any explanation for why with good data. But the other point, which we hear all the time and it’s like, well, okay, maybe it’s okay when real trans kids transition, but there’s too many there’s too many of them transitioning right now.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: Right. And so I think, you know, in this media sphere, we’d be forgiven. Anyone would be forgiven for thinking, okay, well, the issue must be about there’s just so many kids, you know, passing puberty. That must be what’s changed, right? You know, the conservative Christian pundit Matt Walsh was on the Joe Rogan show this week and was caught, you know, on air being, you know, speculating that there were probably, quote, millions of young people on Blockers. And this is amazing.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Notable.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Joe Rogan show the Joe Rogan most articulate.

Brian Lauter: Yeah.

Jules Gill-Peterson: But but the Joe Rogan show’s fact checker interrupted him and was like, okay, no, that’s not true. How many young people are on trans people are on puberty blockers in this country of 330 million people, about 4780. Okay. So like a tiny, minuscule amount of people the time sites that. Yeah, the Times cites that number. Right.

Jules Gill-Peterson: And then, you know, Chase Strangio, who’s a key member of the ACLU legal team fighting a law banning gender affirming care for young people in Arkansas, pointed out that at the trial where everyone’s under oath, the experts in Arkansas testified, okay, we’re seen in total in the state of Arkansas, about 650 young people for gender affirming care. Out of that, 650 15 wow. One five are on puberty blockers, 15 in the state of Arkansas.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Right. And so it’s like, what numbers are we even talking about here? There aren’t. And this is where I think we move from the debunking, right to a bigger question, because the Times piece actually opens by calling puberty blockers, quote, the first line of intervention, right, for trans youth in the clinic. I don’t think that’s actually even true. Every single gender affirming health care provider I’ve ever talked to that sees youth has said the exact same thing to me. Almost no kids take blockers. And actually, one of the reasons why is because puberty starts very early These days. The average age of puberty onset has been going down in recent decades. And we don’t exactly know why that is. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with it, but it is happening.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: And then let’s add into that how astronomically rare it is for a trans kid to feel comfortable enough to come out, be accepted by their parents or guardians, and then for those parents or guardians to have the time, the money, the health insurance, the medical literacy and the geographical access to a clinic that provides blockers. And all of this has to happen before puberty has progressed too much. Because if your puberty is actually started, you can’t take blockers. They don’t work anymore. Right. So actually, it almost never happens. A 2020 study in the journal Pediatrics found that among trans adults who had wanted blockers when they were teenagers, 2.5% actually got them. So there just aren’t that many kids getting on blockers. And so run real question that I think papers might want to look into is is the real crisis here that not enough young people are getting the chance to consider puberty blockers.

Jules Gill-Peterson: But and here’s the pivot to this question of what would a queer and trans focus look like? Because there’s actually been a lot of criticism of the medical model and criticism from trans people who transitioned as teenagers. But this this actual criticism is never included in these articles, is completely drowned out by these weird detransition ers who kind of seem like they’re trying to. GRift a little and get famous for for being contrarian.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Right. But there’s actually a real critique from transpeople, which is that puberty suppression is mostly offered to make parents feel better. And let me explain what they mean by that, because if you go and the general party line from doctors will be like, okay, why do we pause puberty? There’s no medical reason to do that, right? It’s usually styled as well. It buys you time. It creates time. You get to have more time. More time for what? For parents to decide if they’re going to let their kids take hormones, if they’re going to let their kids take estrogen or testosterone. Because if you’ve already started puberty, that means from a medical perspective, if you want to transition, actually, you can start hormones, Right? There’s no need for trans people to to not go through puberty. Right. There’s no that’s not a biological imperative.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: Right. So puberty blockers have been designed in part because what what doctors were sort to say is parents, you can hold your child in suspension for a year or two while you’re deciding if you’re going to let them transition, because obviously taking hormones does change the body. Whereas puberty blockers, once you stop them, everything will just restart Puberty blockers don’t have any permanent effects except maybe this bone density, you know, side effect. And so, like, this is the real question, I think.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Right. We know that most trans youth who do get on blockers, as many as 98%, according to the Times well, will go on to take hormones because like if you’re going to go through all the hassle of getting on blockers and you’re one of those very few kids who did, you probably know that your trans right one detransition or story anecdote set aside doesn’t get rid of that 98% number.

Jules Gill-Peterson: There is a plausible argument and we could interpret all the data that the Times says it’s interpreting to say that the current medical model is too conservative and it’s actually very inhumane because it forces children into a kind of suspended animation while adults deal with their hangups and their feelings. And it causes trans youth to fall out of step developmentally with their peers because their bodies are not growing while everyone around them are growing because they’re being told to wait and also be told to wait to do what they want. Because adult anxiety is so overwhelming. It structures this entire medical model. So that is a whole conversation that is not even happening right now. It’s very provocative, Right.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Brian Lauter: It would require us to trust trans people, to trust trans kids. Right. In a way that the Times is clearly and not just the Times, but the Times certainly seems very unprepared to do. I mean, also a piece about children that has like two quotes, three quotes, I think, from actual children and like very, very little, you know, of the voices of the subject. So it’s like, no, we don’t. I mean, what you’re saying is eye opening, but also like we don’t trust trans kids enough for that. I mean, that would take a whole revolution in the way that we that that like we’re treating this in the first place. Yeah.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: I want to ask you, Jules. When you read pieces like this and The New York Times has published quite a few of them about trans youth medical care. How do you what sort of role does this play in public opinion about trans kids and the medical care that’s available, especially as it relates to all these pieces of legislation you mentioned?

Jules Gill-Peterson: I mean, this, I think, is the media literacy part of it. You know, part of I think why we wanted to talk about this this month is because, you know, for our listeners, for everyone out there, you know, these are the papers of record, right? This is not an article on Breitbart. This is The New York Times. Right. And so, you know, who out there knows about, you know, pretty obscure medications that have been around for many decades for FDA approval before I was even born. But like, why would you know about this? Why would you know about puberty suppression? It’s not like a thing that average people need to know about. Right. And so you get this sort of framing that has the credibility of neutrality, supposedly. Right. And in this case, the times that it commissioned.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: He wrote.

Jules Gill-Peterson: An article on what it’s like that’s.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Reporting. Yeah.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Yeah, it’s a metaphor. It’s not a study. It’s not even a literature review. These two journalists are not practicing scientists. In fact, I’ll just say the literature review is so bad. At one point the article talks about a long awaited research study funded by the National Institutes of Health that could provide more guidance. But seven years in, they have yet to report the key outcomes of their work, which reinforces this idea that, like, we just don’t know anything about this medicine. We just we have no data. And, you know, Jack Turbin, who’s a researcher at Stanford, pointed out that people on this study just presented their findings, a W Pap conference in Toronto. We have all of the outcomes. The outcomes were very unambiguous in the study of 316 trans youth who received gender affirming care. They found that it led to improvements in anxiety depression. And life satisfaction over the two year follow up period. So it didn’t actually support the conclusions of this article.

Jules Gill-Peterson: And so these journalists are like, oops, we just don’t know. No, you didn’t even do your basic job. I mean, the article has other factual errors, right? They say until the 1990s, trans children, people of transport under 18 could never transition, had no access to medical care. And I’m like sitting here being like, Hello, did you even read my book? They’ve been doing it since the 1950s and sixties. In fact, the very first gender clinic in the United States, Johns Hopkins Hospital, was founded because the doctors there were trying to help a teenager transition. So it’s like, stop lying, right? So there’s there’s there’s the aspect of it where it’s just like, of course, it gets under my skin because there are just factual errors being reported as truth.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: But there’s a bigger question, I think here, right? You know, it’s like, what is the purpose being served by kind of setting up and framing out the supposed debate? And remember, the two sides are supposedly doctors and Republican politicians. Where are the trans people, first of all, and why am I supposed to think that doctors and Republican politicians are equally credible to talk about medicine and science? That that makes no sense.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Right. But I think that part of what I want people to know is that every time a state legislature proposes a new ban on this health care, this health care is being banned and criminalized. Texas wants to jail parents for it. Other states want to put doctors in prison for it. Trans people are already being internally displaced in this country and having to pick up and move if they can afford to, to try and stay safe and save their kids lives every time that one of these bills is submitted. Do you know what they’re very happy to lead with and cite as justification for this legislation?

Jules Gill-Peterson: New York Times articles. No joke. Those are gifts, right? And who celebrated the most when this piece came out? Matt Walsh. Like literally far limbs of tick tock, far right People who have been involved, by the way, and have been in the surrounds of organized efforts to target and harass, call in bomb threats and death threats to the clinicians and hospitals and clinics that see transgender people. And so it’s like the Times comes in and wields this sort of very neutral, very dispassionate, kind of like we have to look at the angst anxiety on both sides kind of. And it reinforces the idea that there’s a real problem there.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: But what they do is they leave out the bigger context. It’s only mentioned in passing. There are a lot of people interviewed. And now at this point, because trans people generally won’t talk to the Times anymore because we have no trust in their credibility, it means they’ll actually interview people who are part of explicit anti-trans groups trying to reduce the numbers of trans people in the world or eradicate us and not say who they are as sources in the piece. It just means that basically you’re getting a form of disinformation that’s been dressed up as legitimate news.

Jules Gill-Peterson: And I think that that’s something that I find really concerning because it’s like it’s easy to understand whatever the wild fantasies and rhetorics of a Ron DeSantis or a state legislature or a conservative interest group that like shows up to town saying, you know, transplant groomers or whatever, that’s one thing. But when The New York Times comes, it doesn’t use any of that language. And so even if it comes to conclusions that reinforce those extremist positions, I actually think it’s not just more dangerous in some sense because the Times is read by millions of people, but it’s actually shaping the public conversation.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Right. And so if you read this piece, what would you think? One, Puberty Blockers are dangerous and untested, which is factually untrue to that. Bone density is a really serious concern. We know that to be true, and it’s probably more important than being trans. That’s just factually on its face untrue. And third, that huge numbers of young people are transitioning and that none of those things are true. Right? And if none of those things are true, then how is it okay for that to be the dominant? Yeah, there’s no peace, but this is what we’re being told to worry about.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: In the same week that all of this violence is happening in our country and in our communities. And I just think, you know, it’s like there’s journalistic integrity that it does I don’t know these journalists. I’m tired of having bones to pick with individual journalists, whatever. But what what does it mean for us reading the news in this moment, trying to understand the stakes for LGBT folks right now in this country?

Jules Gill-Peterson: We’re getting such mixed messages that, hey, the Democrats did well in the midterms. Transphobia didn’t win at the ballot box. But then the Times is trying to, you know, sort of prime us to to side with people who are really hoping to destroy our lives like they want us dead. They want some of us dead. And I just think that it’s unfortunate that we even have to to think this way. But I really want to encourage folks, as they encounter these pieces going forward, to just. Think about. Hold on. What’s the agenda here? Do I trust the source material? How does this fit into the bigger picture of what I’m seeing in the world right now? And what’s the real story, Right. What’s the real story of trans youth that we’re not hearing right now? What are their real struggles?

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Yeah, and anytime something related to LGBTQ people is sort of framed as a slippery slope, I think that’s cause to pause and to think, What would Jules Gill-Peterson say about this? You know, just picture a little Jules on your shoulder, you know? Let’s take a critical lens on this piece and wonder what the actual question is here.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: Well, that Jules on your shoulder is coming with stunning curls and a great look every day. So it’s great to have her around in general. And I just, you know, since you open that door, Christina, thank you.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: You might have heard that Republicans were expecting a red wave this midterm election, and unfortunately, it did not really materialize. It was more like a trickle. But you know who did sweep their way into hundreds of political offices across the U.S., the LGBTQ years? It’s being called the Rainbow Wave. Maybe I’d rather we call it like the lavender gush or something quietly gross and euphemistic. But no matter.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: More than 430 LGBTQ candidates won their races this year. That’s 100 more than 2020, the last major election. And that was already a record. So we’re taking over politics in the US. And we had a 60% win rate in our elections. I’m including myself in this group in our elections this year. Why? Why are the LGBT is doing so well in politics? Well, we’re smart. We stay on message and we do very well on camera.

Brian Lauter: Hmm.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: So, as we all know, representation, equal representation does mean something, but it’s not everything. So today we wanted to talk to one of this month’s election winners about what it means substantively to bring a queer and trans perspective to a legislative body. James Roesener is 26. He lives in Concord, New Hampshire, and this month he became the first out trans man to be elected to a state legislature in the U.S., which means when he’s inaugurated, he’ll hold the highest elected office of any out trans man in the country ever. That’s happy. It’s also sad in a way that this is the first. But, James, we are so, so happy to have you here. Welcome to the show.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Speaker 5: Yeah. Thank you so much. I’m happy to be here. And I really appreciate I think you touched on some really important points to me. The fact that this is history in the making me doing this, but also it’s just kind of sad that it hasn’t gotten to this point. I sort of see it as like I just happened to be the first one to do it because I know so many trans people who have been like, Oh yeah, I thought about running or I wanted to run, and I’m just not in this place where I can. So I’m like super happy that this win means so much to so many people. And also I feel like in the grand scheme of things, it’s so small compared to like what can be done and what will be done in the near future, you know what I mean?

Speaker 5: And also that representation, as much as it is important, it’s not everything. So even if people are not inspired to run like anything local is super important. Being a state rep is important to me because it is local politics and that’s where a lot of these things happen. So that’s where I’m most excited. I really appreciate everyone being super psyched about this being the first, but also I’m kind of here just to help my community with all of the things that are happening. As we very well know, everything is happening everywhere.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: So tell us about why you decided to run for office. This is your first election, right?

Speaker 5: Yeah, this is my first campaign, my first election. And I was kind of really inspired by it being a really difficult, tumultuous time. I don’t know if I’m just a glutton for pain, but I’m like, you know, this is like a really tough situation and somebody needs to do something. And why is that not me?

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Speaker 5: Politically, we’ve been in a really fun place as a country and very fun. I mean, like that super. Ironically, the political climate has been kind of nasty for a while now. We’ve just been seeing some across the board behaviors from the right that I think need to be met with a resistance or at least some type of counter that is different to what we’ve been doing, because obviously that’s not working to stop them feeling so emboldened and that sort of right wing call to arms, if I dare say that I don’t think is going to stop any time soon. The definition of Republican is changing. I think that the definition of the right is changing. And I think that in response to that, the left also needs to use all tools at their disposal as well as you know. Yeah, try new things.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Are you speaking specifically about attacks on trans people?

Speaker 5: Yes. And so the New Hampshire Divisive Concepts Bill has really affected the way teachers can talk about the history of race. And the history of racism in this country. And it really puts a pressure on teachers to not speak about racism as if it’s a systemic issue and only as though it’s like a personal prejudice. As well as New Hampshire has just experienced its first abortion ban in modern history, we now have a 24 week abortion ban. Whereas before, we had no restrictions in this bill, Ban does not have any exceptions for rape or incest. For a long time, it did not have an exception for fetal anomalies. Some really amazing people pushed really hard to get that put in as well as there is a requirement for minors to inform their parents. We do have a judicial bypass for that, which is very important, but still not. Best case scenario at any point.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Speaker 5: And then just in general, we’re just seeing a rise, I know locally in a lot of white nationalist activity. Just last weekend there was a drag queen story hour for kids and we had the Proud Boys show up to protest. And so I was there on the ground and it’s very intense, even though it was a small group of people to be in person and see that kind of vitriol and hatred and people, you know, yelling at you that you are a pedophile and that you’re grooming children and all that stuff. It’s really intense.

Speaker 5: Now, the positive side of that is there was like a handful of them and like about 100 of us. And so that’s kind of what I’ve seen throughout my campaign, is that like, yes, there is this really nasty small fringe of people. And also the grand majority of people don’t actually agree with that, don’t want to be represented by that. Don’t think that’s cool at all. A lot of people don’t know what to do about it. A lot of people are afraid to do something about it. And so I think it’s important for any type of organizer or any sort of person who wants to be involved politically to really reflect on what they want to do and engage in the ways that they feel comfortable and definitely connect with your neighbors.

Brian Lauter: I wanted to ask, in light of the climate that you just described, how did you sort of shape your campaign to bring out the voters that you needed them to connect with your constituents? Well, how was your message different, you know, from your opponent and from that larger.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Speaker 5: Yeah. I really lucky because the work that I ran in actually had a really amazing incumbent from the past few years. But she sent this amazing progressive tone that was really easy to carry into where she was talking about the issues that she was feeling very strongly about. I was able to easily transfer things like, hey, you know, taking those concepts as well, because really, at the end of the day, what I’m concerned about, what she’s concerned about, what we’re all concerned about are a lot of the same thing.

Speaker 5: As much as trans issues might affect everybody. We all want a roof over our head. We all want a job that’s going to pay us well. We all want food on our table and our kids to be safe. And so as long as we’re able to communicate that, like, hey, immigrants and LGBT people aren’t the threat here, and a lot of people already are on board with that message. You know, it’s pretty easy to kind of be able to connect with people, especially in person, when you can have a conversation and listen to other people because our issues are so interconnected.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: And the cool thing about New Hampshire, which by the way, James, I’m from New Hampshire, I grew up in Bedford, New Hampshire, has one of the most representative legislative bodies in the world as far as like the representative two constituent races, it’s like 3300 or something. So like you are very intimately connected to the people you represent, which I think is one of the coolest things about New Hampshire’s government, I guess.

Speaker 5: Yeah, it’s it’s really amazing. And I love you know, I love local politics. I never really got involved in this area of stuff of like the legislative stuff. I’ve been more of a grassroots organizer and working one on one with people. So this area is kind of very new to me. Like my first time in the state House was just a few days ago. And so, you know, just looking to cut my teeth and try a new thing as I knew that my constituents were just going to be my neighbors. I am a lot less interested in being a politician and a lot more interested in affecting policy. So that’s why I ran.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: Now, I love that point. And there’s something really, I don’t know, refreshing about hearing that. I think one of the things we’re trying to think about this month on our episode is like, how much has all these national framings of politics really sort of clouded our sense of what is possible or even just what is happening? In the country right now. And I’ll say, you know, I’m I’m famously from Canada. I’m an immigrant and I voted for the first time in this major. I’m a very new to this whole American civic thing.

Jules Gill-Peterson: But I’m so interested in that kind of local question because it sounds so tangible and real when you talk about it. And I feel like one of the things I’ve noticed in the past couple of years, especially for queer and trans people, is there’s just a general sense of like, it’s really we feel really helpless. It’s feels really hard to do anything. Obviously, there is well-coordinated, well-funded national and international movements targeting us.

Jules Gill-Peterson: And there’s a way that when, like you see everything happening at that big macro scale, it just makes you feel like, well, what could I possibly do? Right? Like, I can’t I can’t outspend the Heritage Foundation. I don’t have the same power as a senator. Right. I can’t do anything about a foreign head of state who’s, you know, pursuing anti LGBT policies. But I love what you just said. Whereas, like, you know, I actually think, you know, a lot of other people could have the same kinds of, you know, electoral successes and then maybe policy successes. And so I’m sort of curious. Is that sort of your feeling in this moment that like part of what we need to be doing and sort of like flexing our agency, you know, as as LGBT people, I mean, as all kinds of people who have shared interests, is that like, we just need to. Is it that for you? It feels like it’s just so much easier to start local, Start where you are, start with your neighbors, start with your own life, and find kind of the local positions and also obviously do organizing around local issues.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: But but, you know, to me it just sounds so straightforward. I think I feel like I’ve just been like exhaling and relaxing, listening to talk because it just feels so much easier that like wrapping my head around this huge global national predicament we’re in. So sort of like, I guess like, yeah, What’s your advice on sort of following that local energy and trying to use that as a way to feel like we actually do have, you know, forms of power that we can that we can plan.

Speaker 5: So for me, I think it’s very important to focus locally. And I also always frame it in the fact that we are all neighbors and we have so many people on our side. Just not too many people are knowing how to be animated or have the time of day to do the things that they want to do. I recognize I’m very privileged. I have an amazing job that allows me to make time. My job is right across the street from the state House, which is a big reason why I’m able to do this, because if I need to run over, I’m able to. But if you live, you know, in like Bedford, you don’t necessarily have that that sort of access that I do. I just happen to be like right in their backyard because our struggles are so interconnected beyond just state lines and beyond borders, showing solidarity even in the small ways and even doing a small part of the work is such a big push.

Speaker 5: If everybody does a little bit, what I really want to and encourage people to do is not to say, you know, everybody should run for office, every single person in the world, because that might not be your gig, it just might not be. And that’s okay because something is, especially if you feel a burning in your gut that tells you you want to do something. If something really upsets you about the way that the world is going right now, that’s enough to start having conversations with yourself and others.

Advertisement

Speaker 5: And I really believe that small steps and small changes on a wide scale will actually affect things on a large scale. And I really want to give power to people’s ideas for what the future could be, because as much as it might not be instantaneous, it can definitely bloom into something amazing, especially if you do the good work and encourage other others to join you as well. When it comes to wanting to see better things happen or like to take away the negative, I think chipping at it a step at a time and whatever you can do is enough. And also there are other people who want to support you.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: James I know that there was a bill in New Hampshire that failed that would have required people who work at schools to report students who are trans or, you know, questioning their gender identity to their parents. That bill did not pass, but obviously there were members of the legislature who supported it. I’m wondering, as you go into this legislative body, are you feeling called to talk to some of those people who are pushing that kind of transphobic legislation and attacks on trans people, or do you sort of consider them, you know, not worth your time and energy and your job is more to build power among people who support trans rights? I.

Speaker 5: I usually approach things as nobody is a lost cause until they prove themself to be one. And, you know, I think that for a lot of these people, the only information that they have is the information that that’s been fed to them. If you’re only exposed to that side of things like you’re you’re not going to know the difference between a drag queen and a trans woman. You’re not going to know that gender transition isn’t grooming because you have this very narrow lens of what that actually means. And if it’s the only perspective that you’ve had, I can sympathize with how that would add up without the rest of the world’s context. And I think that’s the reality for some people.

Advertisement

Speaker 5: Now, some people do really want to be willful, willfully ignorant. And some people are really dedicated to that cause of being like an anti everything. But I think a lot of people just don’t know and have never met a trans person. And I know from experience, you know, to be the first person that is trans because, you know, I’m definitely not the first person that has trans that they have met, but the first person being willing to say that and have a conversation about it, just that alone, like takes them aback because they’re like, Oh, now I need to reflect on all of these preconceived notions that I had. And so to actually have a conversation with them and be polite and stuff, I think that it is very likely that I could change some minds. And I’m willing to talk to anybody who’s willing to talk to me.

Brian Lauter: James, I wonder, as you get ready to head into to surveying, what issues are you most excited about working on? Because this is a queer podcast. I certainly would love to hear about, you know, ones that are specific to queer people, but but generally as well. What were you most like passionate about? Really, really dig into when you started?

Speaker 5: Yeah. So for me, one of the big things that I heard from a lot of people and something that I feel very strongly about myself is having more access to our reproductive and abortion care in New Hampshire because this novel, 24 week ban is kind of, it feels out of left field for New Hampshire, who’s always been live free or die. And that was kind of, I think, the mentality of it. It was just, I can do whatever you want. Like we that we’re that, you know, a hands off state. And now we’re we’re doing this thing. I don’t know. It just kind of surprised me.

Advertisement

Speaker 5: But again, I think it’s just sort of the way that the cars have been falling politically lately.

Speaker 5: But I’d love to see the 24 week ban be a little bit more defanged and maybe even, you know, put to the wayside altogether where it should have been, as well as helping to enshrine protections for that into our state law, because we are the only state in New England that does not have protections on the books right now.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Well, James, thank you so much for giving us your time. We are so excited to see what you do in the state legislature And as a New Hampshire, as it is a particular point of pride for me to see you, you know, representing my old home state and do it. And that’s what.

Speaker 5: I plan to do.

Jules Gill-Peterson: All right. Well, that’s about it for this month. But before we go, as always, we’ve got your monthly updates to the gay agenda. Brian, why don’t you kick us off?

Brian Lauter: Sure. So I know that I sort of missed spooky season on the show because I was out, but I still wanted to call out this really amazing, super entertaining documentary series that I discovered during spooky season, that it’s about the relationship between queerness and horror as a genre, sort of both in literature and but mainly in film. It is called Queer for Fear, and it is a four part documentary series on Shudder, which is this kind of niche streaming platform that’s run by AMC. This is not. I realized that both of my things are AMC sponsored by SHEL. Yeah, sponsors AMC, but it is a specific horror platform That’s, you know, if you like horror, it’s worth it. But you can get a free trial regardless, you know, to check this out.

Advertisement

Brian Lauter: But Queer for Fear is executive produced by Bryan Fuller of Hannibal Fame, among other things. And it features just really, really smart and funny commentary from, you know, sort of a range of academics, actors, artists and Alaska Thunder. Foxx, who is, I think, all three of those things maybe. And then and then some. And, you know, it takes you from, you know, from Gothic horror and Frankenstein and Dracula and Dorian Gray to like alien invasion fears as they relate to the lavender scare. And, you know, we end up, of course, with predatory lesbians. So and yeah, so it’s a wonderful series. I think it’s worth a watch, really, any time of year for Queer for Fear. And it’s on Shudder.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: That’s Shudder with a deal Like I’m.

Brian Lauter: Quivering, like you’re quivering. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Cool.

Brian Lauter: Uh Christina.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: I am going to recommend Allison Beck, Dale’s latest graphic novel, The Secret to Superhuman Strength. It actually came out last year, but I only just got around to reading it. I am a big, you know, Alison Bechdel fan, blah, blah, blah. And again, like super on the nose here. But this book is really special. It chronicles her lifelong love of exercise. So not necessarily sports, but sort of like solo body moving things from like yoga to jiu jitsu, cycling, cross-country skiing. It’s very funny and poignant and sweet, like all of her books. And it’s full of all these little layers of meaning that she teases out of her almost like obsession with exercise about how it quiets the mind and makes you feel connected to nature.

Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: And again, in true Alison Bechdel fashion, she connects it to the works of writers and philosophers from previous generations, in this case transcendentalists and Zen Buddhists who have thought a lot about these same kinds of things. It’s also full of gay stuff. If that’s your jam, this is kind of corny, but it really did make me feel in awe of like having a body and what our bodies can do and sort of like the body mind connection and the body emotion connection.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: And her artwork just filled me with a sense of gratitude for the chance to, like, be small in this world and live and explore and change and learn, you know, as she does throughout the course of her life, sort of every different type of exercise she tries is connected to a different phase in her personal growth. And it’s really beautiful. Super worth a read. Again, it’s called The Secret to Superhuman Strength.

Brian Lauter: Oh.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Wait, it sounds good.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: You guys should really check it out.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: And, Jules, what about you?

Jules Gill-Peterson: Well, I also have a book recommendation. It’s. It’s a little hard to place genre wise, but this amazing book that just recently came out. It’s called Gossip Girl. Fanfic novella and written by that delightful Charlie Markbreiter. And it’s this absolutely zany laugh out loud, hilarious, bizarre book that, like I said, I’m not exactly sure what the genre is.

Jules Gill-Peterson: It’s part Fanfic. It’s part novella, it’s part academic essay, but it basically spins off and riffs on and re-imagines Gossip Girl, our beloved, you know, early aughts show and imagines all these sorts of very contemporary things like, you know, what? If Nate from Gossip Girl was a stealth trans boy, his dad is a Jeff Bezos type and so on. And so it’s just like a kind of humor that even I’m a little too old to be capable of producing, but I’m not too old to really appreciate.

Advertisement

Jules Gill-Peterson: I’ve never quite read something like this, and it’s just sort of a really interesting kind of look at, in part, our nostalgia, in fact, for the early aughts, like this moment before social media became the kind of calcified household that it is today, when fame felt so weird, when fashion was so bizarre, and when a lot of things that now feel really heavy and exhausting about the world were actually understood to be plucky and new. And it’s just a really fast paced, hilarious kind of read. And I just think it’s a good example of how, you know, queer and trans humor these days is actually some of the best, weirdest humor out there, highly underrated. And so whether or not you are a super fan of Gossip Girl or not, I think you’ll you’ll love this. And it’s actually a lot better than the Gossip Girl reboot or sequel.

Speaker 5: Oh, my God.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: I didn’t even dare watch that because.

Jules Gill-Peterson: I doubt.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: The original.

Jules Gill-Peterson: Two. Yeah, well, like, you won’t like it, but you will like Gossip Girl and Thick Novella. I highly, highly recommend. And for listeners, this is not a vanity plug, but it’s an Easter egg. I appear in this book at some point, if that if that comes from. Well, Charlie is a friend of mine. You know, we know each other from the academic.

Brian Lauter: You just solved the holiday gift giving man perfect for someone in my life.

Jules Gill-Peterson: It’s a great stocking stuffer.

Brian Lauter: Yeah, I think that. I think this is going to be great. Thank you so much. I can’t wait.

Advertisement

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: All right. That’s about it for our episode listeners. As always, you can and should send us your feedback and your topic ideas at outward podcast at Slate.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. As long as Twitter still exists. At Slate Outward, our producer is June Thomas the rainbow wave of our show. And if you like outward, please subscribe in your podcast app. Tell your friends about it. Great. And review the show in a positive and loving way. Help other people find it. We’ll be back in your feeds, December 21st. And I think given your.

Brian Lauter: Yeah. Holiday.

Cristina Cauterucci, Christina Cauterucci: Happy holidays Day. Okay.

Brian Lauter: Bye bye.