Enovid 10 and the Gleaners

On May 9th , 1960 the FDA approved Enovid 10, a high level hormonal based birth control pill for use as a contraceptive. It had previously been approved in 1957 for use as an aid in treating infertility and menstrual irregularities—not as an oral contraceptive.

Now here is an important note. During the first 3 year it was used “off label” as an oral contraceptive.

In the 1960s it became very popular for another “off label” use which was the hormonal treatment of transsexualism. It was available and it worked, was safer than the alternative of DES (diethylstilbestrol).

Between about 1960 and about 1975 we went from a few hundred post-op transsexual women in the world to ten-twenty thousand perhaps more.

This explosion in trans-health care, access to surgery wasn’t about riots or demonstrations or people who get murals painted showing them.

The people who made this possible were information miners and sharers. In many cases we had to educate doctors and turn them into trans-health care providers. Doctors who wrote articles for obscure journals only a few had access to, but those few made xerox copies which made it into newsletters such as the one published by the Reed Erickson Educational Foundation.


Later Lee Brewster, head of the Queen’s Liberation Front, published “Queen Magazine”. A glossy covered actual magazine aimed a trans-women rather than a sex magazine aimed at those who pursue trans-women. Tapestry started as first a newsletter but grew in to a magazine in the 1980s. The pre-Internet/pre-Social Media era of the 1990s saw numerous ‘zines. All these were ways of sharing gleaned information. Word of mouth became newsletters and magazines (books) became electronic mass media.

Doctors like Doctor Benjamin who wrote books or even Dr.s Green and Money who would later be discredited edited a book which was a manual for the Doctors.

But it wasn’t just the sharing of information with each other. In many cases some of us were the ones educating the Doctors, telling them what hormones we needed for them to prescribe, telling them what books to read.

Trans-folks, especially trans-kids and women needing abortions are back in the same sort of place we were in the 1960s. Access to Birth Control and gender affirming medical treatments are based on on the right of privacy which like property and contract rights is implied rather than explicit.

Privacy rights are the corner stone of abortion rights, access to birth control and gender affirming medical treatment.

I’m old. I thought these battles were fought and won a long time ago. I’m not current with the language of today nor have I much in common with the activists of today and their point of view. But this I know and know quite well the rights of having access to health care including abortion, birth control and gender affirming medical care are hanging by the same frayed rope. The Republicans and Evangelicals are hacking away at that rope. If it goes we all go down together. So too will Marriage Equality. States will be freed to once again institute sodomy laws.

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