I know this is The Way Things Work Today, but something about gay teen suicide as a “branded corporate sponsorship opportunity” strikes me as pretty grotesque.

“The pill became a lifetime drug for women. What is happening with AIDS research is that they are also thinking of consumers who can become lifetime consumers. This is how the pharmacopornographic regime works. The disciplinary regime would basically tell you not to have sex outside of reproduction. They would say, Do not go out and have sex in that back room. The pharmacopornographic regime says, No, no, you can fuck as much as you want, but be sure you take your pill.”





So, there’s this thing that everyone is really excited about called PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), which is an HIV prevention treatment that consists of taking Truvada, an HIV treatment med. It’s really exciting, right? You could just take a…

I read Morgan’s article with interest, for several reasons:

1) I am queer and live in New York City, where I have many friends who are HIV+, sex workers, or both; as well as having many friends who are at risk for contracting HIV….

Bryn is super smart, and her points are spot on.

However, I disagree with the point about the effects it may have on sex workers. I’m going to preface this next bit by saying that I am a former teen street-based sex worker and current sex workers’ rights activist engaged in work with sex workers across various parts of the industry (primarily street-based, massage parlour, strip clubs, and escorting).

Yes, totally, lots of workers do offer BBBJs and no condoms. This is in response largely to market pressure. While some workers are totally comfortable doing this, many are not. It creates a market where condom negotiation becomes much harder, particularly for street-based workers. In my own experiences, I was never able to get a client to use condoms, despite attempting to negotiate it.

I think Bryn’s discussion of the early effects of the Pill is really important here and goes to further my point. While PrEP may be really useful for some people, in some situations, it’s still experimental in many respects. There are very few studies about it, and, as I originally mentioned, most are only for short term exposure windows. Sex workers are being targeted as a “risk group” to introduce PrEP to, and I do worry about the human guinea pig aspect of that, and it’s effects on the lives and bodies of sex workers.

Another interesting point is that clients of sex workers are not being targeted as a potential risk group. This leaves an unfair power dynamic where sex workers are expected to bear the responsibility of potential health consequences, while clients do not have to. I think it would be really interesting for more client-based prevention strategies to be looked at (dear governments and corporations, please send $$$$ for piloting client-based prevention to Morgan M Page at …).

My thoughts on the potentially harmful effects of Truvada are mainly influenced by the conversations I had with workers and the presentations I attended at this year’s Desiree Alliance Conference. People did not seem thrilled with it and raised most of the points I raised above.

I do definitely think some people may benefit greatly from PrEP. But I don’t think it’s the right answer for everyone yet, and I am worried about the significant harm it could cause by creating an illusion of safety.

Also, Bryn brought up that early contraceptive trials were done in Puerto Rico. In case you were wondering, most of the research I have seen about women on PrEP is currently being done in South Africa (ie, tests using placebos vs. real drugs) on the bodies of Black South African women.

While we may disagree on a few of the particulars on the advantages and disadvantages of PrEP, Morgan makes a truly excellent point here, which is that:


For the following reasons:

1) They tend to have more financial resources/insurance coverage and thus can afford the price of Truvada as it stands now; and

2) They tend to lead the kind of lifestyles that allow them to adhere to treatment with greater regularity (stable housing, regular employment, etc.); and

3) THEY ARE SO MOTHERFUCKING PARANOID ABOUT “DISEASE.” If you have ever taken a look at the “Am I at risk for HIV?” forum on TheBody.com, 90% of posts are from johns who are like, I made out with a Brazilian trans sex worker once!! Do I have AIDS now?????? Like, chill out dudes.



So, there’s this thing that everyone is really excited about called PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), which is an HIV prevention treatment that consists of taking Truvada, an HIV treatment med. It’s really exciting, right? You could just take a…

I read Morgan’s article with interest, for several reasons:

1) I am queer and live in New York City, where I have many friends who are HIV+, sex workers, or both; as well as having many friends who are at risk for contracting HIV

2) As an HIV activist who has volunteered at organizations like ACT-UP NYC, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay Elders), these issues are very much being discussed among our constituencies, and

3) I like Morgan, consider her a personal friend, and am very interested in her ideas.

However, I take a different view than some of the opinions expressed in her article. Namely:

The jury is still out as to whether the consequences of non-adherence to and long-term use of PrEP are quite as dire as Morgan has characterized them. Truvada is already a medication used for the long-term treatment and management of HIV. It keeps viral loads down, which reduces the over-excitation of the body’s immune response, which it is hoped will prevent many of the inflammation diseases (dementia, heart disease) endemic to people who have been living with HIV/AIDS for a very long time (including seniors.) Truvada is a very good drug. And, of all the HIV drugs on the market, it has the lowest measured side-effect profile.

Many people living with HIV take Truvada every day. The official literature says that it requires 99% adherence (meaning, you can only skip one dose about every three months), but in clinical practice — ask any doctor who has many HIV+ clients, and they will tell you that this drug is more forgiving than its labeling would indicate. It is my suspicion that the extreme adherence requirements expressed on the drug’s labeling are a way of covering Gilead (the maker of the drug in the US)’s ass.

Speaking of which, it’s true: the price of HIV drugs are outrageous. But, they don’t have to be. In India and Thailand, for example, the public health ministries of these countries refused to issue patents for certain HIV drugs, citing their high cost and inaccessibility for their citizens. It is our job as activists to demand fair access to these drugs. A wise activist once taught me this fundamental rule of social change: ain’t nobody gonna give you nothin’ if you don’t ask for it.

Also, Morgan’s point about sex workers’ clients expecting them to be on PrEP and thus being more adept to demand unprotected sex is a valid one, especially for street-based sex workers. However, in my experience, I am not so sure this bears out in practice? A casual glance at Backpages.com lists dozens (if not hundreds) of girls advertising BBBJs and “no condoms needed.”

Morgan makes another good point in her article, too: THE COMPARISON TO PrEP TO BIRTH CONTROL IS AN APT ONE, but I’d like to explore this analogy a little further…

Lots of people fuck up taking all kinds of meds. I, myself, was conceived while my mother forgot to take the pill for a few days. It should also be considered that combined oral contraceptive pills were only legalized in the United States in 1960, and during that time, they contained a much higher dose of hormones than they do today — it was a matter of (frankly, unethical) experimental titration for toxicity that left many women with reproductive health issues for the rest of their lives. I have suspected that the higher doses of hormones used in the early days of the pill may have contributed to my own mother’s reproductive health issues later in life; and yet, using the pill gave her control over her own reproductive choices, which allowed her to graduate from college (despite being married at age 15), greatly increasing her socioeconomic life chances. Many life choices require risk evaluation. Sometimes, it’s a trade-off.

(It should also be noted that prior to 1960, these experiments were conducted in Puerto Rico in inhumane conditions that left many women permanently sterilized.)

The march of progress for allopathic medicine has at times been a long and cruel one, and has claimed many bodies, lives, and spirits. And yet, today, birth control has given women control over their bodies and the ability to plan their families in a way never before imagined in human history. And sure, people still fuck up! My mom, of course, being a perfect example, but then, had she not, I probably would not be writing this article. (And hey, depending on what research you chose to believe, were she not all pumped up with these exogenous neonatal estrogens, I might not even be trans. And wouldn’t that be a shame!)

And — this is the point on which I feel most passionately — though perhaps the long-term health consequences of PrEP are unknown, you know what is quite well known? The long-term health consequences of living with HIV/AIDS. If these can be prevented in any way, I say, go for it.

When I was at the Lambda Literary Retreat this summer, I spoke with a brilliant young queer femme queen of color who was debating going on PrEP. In the city where he lived, it was free. Though I am excited about the possibilities of PrEP and encouraged him to explore its possibilities, there’s certainly no way I can say what the right choice for him is.

At the end of the day, though, I’m glad the choice is his to make.


tw: reality check


On July 19th, 2009, Scott Loren Moore, one of the lead editors of Trans Bodies/Trans Selves, smacked me around pretty bad. At the time he was my boyfriend, and what occurred on this night was part of a larger pattern of intimate partner abuse. He has consistently sought to avoid any accountability for this behavior.

Scott is currently raising $50k via some kind of crowdsourcing scheme which will *allow* Trans Bodies/Trans Selves to be published by Oxford University Press. Why? It is unclear.

The original Our Bodies/Ourselves was published for $0.38 per copy. The point is, it might be worth it to give some thought about where your money is going, and whose ideals it is supporting. Read more about this ongoing conversation here.

There are a lot of really smart people involved in this project, and I’m not trying to shade them. I’m just sharing my part of the story. Decide what you want to do for yourself.

 If there was a movie and they needed to cast the transgender assassin, they’d probably cast me. You know, I wouldn’t play the housewife or… like Annie Danger in the show we did, she’s like, “You are the drill sargeant!” I’m like, really? Okay. Who else could do it? Probably nobody, in that cast. Because you have to just scream at this human being for eight minutes straight. And that’s all I think of now when I think of Bryn (Kelly) – in my mind it’s like, you stupid little bitch, every time. I’m sure she’d love that.



The “YES” and “NO” lists on this poster were compiled in collaboration with twelve close comrades involved in anarchist and left radical political, intellectual, and arts circles in New York City and on the internet. All of the contributors to this project are women and/or trans, almost all are queer, and about two thirds are people of color.

For the “NO” list, I asked people to send me the names of “cis men, living and dead, who make [your] blood boil: misogynists, paternalists, abusers, rapists, rape apologists … people whom you find toxic, people whose physical presence or intellectual influence in left spaces … hinders or forecloses our collective possibilities for transformation, liberation, and making total destroy.”

For the “YES” list, I asked people to send me the names of “women and trans people, living and dead, whom [you] find inspiring;” “your role models and soul friends;” or, in the words of a friend, “people who exude something, often irreducible to any one of their activities, that makes things possible.”

All of the names that were sent to me have been included.

someone thought of me for a thing! how nice of them

my YES list would include:
akihiro miwa
marsha p johnson
sarah schulman
kate huh
laverne cox
janet mock
reina & che gosset
and the entire cast of the FFC, each individually stunners in their own right

Yesterday we were thanked for being silent and respectful to a grieving family seated center stage. We were instructed to keep politics at the door though politicians had a front-row seat with camera crews readied for their election year soundbites. …

The only reason I left not feeling defeated was because of you, in all your resilience, beauty, brilliance and ferocity. You held me up, you told me that we would get through, and you showed up despite knowing the open secret we all carry: that Islan was not the first to fall and she will not be the last.”

My open letter to trans women who attended Islan Nettles “community vigil” in Harlem last night. We must mourn, we must work, we must demand better for ourselves and our sisters. (via janetmock)

this part:

You turned out last night, in a sea of black and brown and creamy faces, beat by makeup, pain and tears. I know how hard it was to leave your apartment, to get on a subway in the daylight and make it to Harlem in one piece. It takes courage to make yourself publicly vulnerable – and I want you to know that I saw you and seeing you was a gift because I have never been in a space with so many girls, and I know that that was the collective result of each girl who posted that flyer on her Facebook wall and messaged another girl, urging her to overcome her anxiety and traumas to stand together with us.


“Our culture sees anyone at economic, social, or psychological vortex as a figure of despair. Despair informs all social dealings with them. It is impossible to show this despair is part of society’s own perspective — unless you can convince people not as society but as individuals to come much, much closer; society wastes so much ability to reason, so much ability to laugh. Before laughter and reason, despair vanishes.”
Heavenly Breakfast, Samuel Delany, 1979.