Garbage Bags and Tomato Cans: The History of Nurses Making Basic Equipment Out of Trash

In spring 2020, images of nurses treating patients while wearing garbage bags instead of standard disposable gowns symbolized both the bravery of frontline clinicians and a shocking lack of preparation for the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. This clever use of a trash bag as well as other everyday items and actual trash to create ad-hoc personal… Read more →

A Perspective on Patienthood

“The patient.” I hate that term. I hate to write about “the patient,” I hate to talk about “the patient.” But before I proceed, let me take a moment to locate myself: I am a medical social worker, a therapist, and a chronic illness patient with SLE (lupus). A significant part of my job is… Read more →

Rediscovering “Good” and “Bad” Heads in the Phrenological Present

It’s always a little exciting when your research area shows up in the news, especially when your work inclines to the obscure. This is even the case when the thing you study is about something better left in the past – no one should want to bring back phrenology into the present day. And yet,… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Decolonizing DNA. The ghosts of segregation. The battle of Blair Mountain. Lucky charms around the world. There will be a vaccine black market. Demonizing diversity training isn’t new. AIDS, from the perspective of “patient zero.” Preserving 1980s HIV/AIDS education material. Trump’s die-hard fans and… Read more →

Nursing Justice: Filipino Immigrant Nurse Activism in the United States

When you think about trailblazing women in American nursing history, do Filipino nurses come to mind? Probably not. But they should. The pioneering cancer prevention work of Ines Cayaban in the 1940s, the organizing work of Esther Hipol Simpson to defend two immigrant nurses wrongfully accused of murder in the 1970s, and the current leadership… Read more →

Honor to Us All: What Trans Men Gained and Lost in Mulan (2020)

My parents took me to see Mulan for my ninth birthday. Appropriately for someone raised as a girl, they bought me a Mulan doll that featured prominently in my playtime (as I’ve written before, I could never honestly tell my gender therapist that I hated dolls). Later, “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” became… Read more →

Signing for Life: Deaf Gay Activists Navigate the AIDS Epidemic, 1986–1991

Before a small crowd of journalists at San Diego’s Point Loma Hospital, through sign language and their interpreters, John Canady’s partner J.T. Tupper, and sister, Mary Noble, recounted the ordeal their loved one endured prior to his dying of AIDS at the age of 37.[1] On March 18, 1986, Canady, a deaf postal worker, had… Read more →

Nursing for Generations: Kiowa Peoplehood in the Work of Laura Pedrick

When smallpox erupted across the Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache Reservation in 1900, local people began to panic. Experienced Kiowa and Comanche healers knew smallpox as a Western disease that usually required Western treatment. Rocky plains made difficult passage for the horse-drawn buggies that Charles Hume and Harry Wheeler, the reservation’s two government physicians, used to… Read more →

Sunday Morning Medicine

A weekly check-up of gender, medicine, and history in the news Defunding the (drug) police. The literary life of Octavia E. Butler. The last children of Down syndrome. The quiet history of lesbian pulp fiction. The early modern precursor to turducken. Our long-running love affair with pigeons. The peculiar role of America’s First Ladies. How… Read more →

Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail and Histories of Native American Nursing

I first encountered Susie Yellowtail (Crow) in a July 1934 letter in which a physician on her reservation condemned her for making “selfish” requests on health workers’ time and resources.1 The physician was angry that Yellowtail refused to accept hospital services for the birth of her child, and he made it clear that the Crow… Read more →