It has been revealed that two trans anarchists ran a secret underground surgical clinic for transgender people in an old tractor barn near Olympia, Wash.
Eilis Ni Fhlannagain, a former anarchist protest medic and software developer, told The Independent that the underground surgical clinic, which ran from 2002 to 2004, was created to provide trans folks with "life saving" healthcare during an era where they faced discrimination from the medical community, and surgeries were limited.
Drawing inspiration from underground abortion clinics, Fhlannagain would perform castrations on clients with an autoclave and a cauterization machine purchased on eBay.
"No one was going to take care of us. We had to take care of ourselves," Fhlannagain told The Independent.
"We wanted to make sure that folks would never get a bill in their old name – simple things like that. They would be able to wake up and be surrounded by trans folks who knew how to take care of them, how to treat them. Never have to worry about getting misgendered. Never have to worry about 'what's your real name?' Never have to worry about any of that," Fhlannagain explained.
Fhlannagain solicited help from doctor friend "Willow" who Fhlannagain convinced to perform an orchiectomy – the removal testicles – in a reclining chair in Fhlannagain's adopted trans mother's living room in the 1990s.
Willow performed the surgery while using pages from a medical textbook as a guide, according to The Independent.
However, the procedure failed to go smoothly and Fhlannagain was rushed to the hospital hours later, needing antibiotics to treat the infection.
But that didn't stop Fhlannagain from convincing Willow to start the clinic when they both coincidentally found themselves living in Washington state, the outlet reports.
"We're not going to ask for permission for something that we should be able to just do," Fhlannagain explained. "It's my f*ck*ng body. If I want to go get my ears pierced, no one's going to say, 'oh, you can't do that, you need two letters from psychiatrists'."
The clinic aimed to provide a safe space for transgender people and never charged more than $500 for a procedure that usually cost thousands. The clinic was even inspected and approved by Washington state health officials, according to The Independent.
"What's a doctor's clinic?" asked Fhlannagain. "A doctor's clinic is a clean room that's up to a certain standard, with clean instrumentation that's up to a certain standard, that has records up to a certain standard, drug supplies and how it's stored up to a certain standard, and a licensed doctor and all your taxes and your business stuff up to a certain standard."
"We just met those standards, and the standards are not difficult to meet... we've just grown up with western medicine and basically surrendered ourselves to their whims," Fhlannagain explained.
The clinic ultimately treated 14-16 patients in room inside the tractor barn that was roughly be eight by twelve feet.
Unable afford medical malpractice insurance and a business license, and not being able to possess opiates or narcotics, Fhlannagain said there were no reported infections or complications.
Fhlannagain told The Independent that Fhlannagain is proud of the work the "life-saving" work the two did for the transgender community.
"I don't regret helping a bunch of girls that wouldn't have been helped." But the clinic did not last long. In 2006, Willow's residency ended, taking her out of the Pacific Northwest, while Fhlannagain herself was burned out."Trans healthcare is a drag," she said.
"I f*cking hate doing trans healthcare. I'd never do it again. It's one of the most rewarding things and one of the worst things that I ever had to do. Part of that is that you were seeing folks at their most vulnerable. And trans girls? A lot of the time we don't do vulnerable real well. Because if you do vulnerable a lot, you don't last long. Anyone who does trans healthcare, God bless 'em. God bless 'em," Fhlannagain added.
Fhlannagain declined to reveal Willow's real name because Willow now works as an abortionist and allegedly faces threats of violence, Fhlannagain told the outlet. Fhlannagain hung up her anarchist boots and now lives in Ireland.