Eunicure: Who’s Nuts?

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Filed under: Media Pranks

Posted by Dan Savage on the Stranger, thanks Angela:

If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off!
March 12-13, 2008

eunicure.jpgThat's the motto of Eunicure, a loosely affiliated group of "board-certified urological surgeons" that offers hope-in the form of castration-to homosexuals that have failed to control their desires through prayer, meditation, or other non-scalpel-based interventions. From the Eunicure website...

Q. Isn't the Eunicure extreme?
The Eunicure is not for everyone and should be no one's first choice. Only if all other forms of treatment have failed to eliminate your homosexuality should you consider what Eunicure offers. However since the rate of AIDS and suicide is so much higher among homosexual men than among those without such an orientation, the Eunicure method can and does save lives.

Q. Is the procedure painful?
The procedure is conducted under a local anesthetic and post-operative pain management is taken very seriously. That said, there will be some discomfort after the procedure that should pass in a week or so.

Q What can I expect after the procedure is complete?
The main effect will be a complete lack of sexual desire of any kind. While loss of testosterone may entail side-effects such as the potential for loss of body hair, positive side-effects may also include the retention of head hair that might have been lost due to the effects of testosterone. It is a common misconception that a man's voice will rise, but that is false. There are some reports of hot flashes and loss of bone density.

Q is the procedure reversible?
No. The Eunicure procedure is something that requires serious thought and we suggest counseling because there is no going back. While testosterone injections can reverse some of the effects, they cannot completely replace what you will be losing.

This can't be real, right? Eunicure's website seems like a cross between www.GodHatesShrimp.com and Donnie "God Hates a Fag" Davies. And wouldn't any surgeon that castrated an otherwise healthy man-even if the castrated dude was a self- and ball-hating homo-be running the risk of losing his license? And this question from the Eunicure fact sheet makes me think the website is a spoof...

Q. My ex-wife, mother, lover etc. wants to watch the procedure as it takes place, Is that allowed?
That depends on of the local surgeon performing the operation and the local hospital. Some allow visitors during such procedures and some prefer to maintain a sterile environment.
Mom gets to watch? Uh... right.

But Eunicure is based in Kansas, a gay-hating state... but it's based in Topeka, Kansas, home to Fred Phelps, which tips the scales toward hoax and parody. Unless Fred Phelps & Co. has decided to branch out of the funeral picketing business and start combatting homosexual behavior at its source. Then again, Eunicure's website states that homosexuality is an "inborn condition" and not a sinful choice, like most Christian fundies insist. So... parody, right? And then there's this: "If you are a board-certified urological surgeon who wishes to donate their services to the Eunicure cause..." So maybe Eunicure is just an elaborate prank to gather names and ultimately expose fundy urologists that would be willing to castrate gay men?

I've sent an email to the group's media contact-whose name is Andrew Johnson, and whose email is ajohnson@eunicure.com (get it? a johnson?)-asking for a comment. In the meantime... does anyone know if there's a Dr. Timothy Feathertree-Eunicure's "medical director"-licensed to practice medicine in Topeka, Kansas, or anywhere else?

Update, March 13, 2008:

So about Eunicure, that organization I wrote about yesterday...

Allegedly based in Topeka, Kansas, Eunicure describes itself as "a network of volunteer medical professionals... providing the only one-hundred percent effective treatment for curing homosexuality." Eunicure's treatment is castration-based, so I'm thinking it's not all that effective where female homosexuality is concerned. But as we see with religious groups and other gay haters, it's really the buttsex that fascinates ‘em. (Lesbians and heterosexuals, for the record, have buttsex too.) Well, late yesterday afternoon I managed to get a hold of Eunicure's media liaison, Andrew Johnson, and we had a very pleasant phone conversation. But I must say that Mr. Johnson, hoax or no hoax, had to be the least informed media liaison in the whole sordid history of media liaisoning.

Can you tell me about the service?
The idea is that, if you're gay, and if you've tried everything else, and you want to be straight, or if you can't be straight but want to get right with God, after you get a full physical, and a full psychological battery of tests, we can refer you to one of the places around the country where a surgeon would be wiling to perform the service. We're a referral service. We don't do medical work ourselves. We refer and fund.

So you guys pick up the tab for these castrations?
Yes. It can run anywhere from $1,600 to $2,600. Depending on location, mostly. Everything in New York City is more expensive than in Kansas City, obviously. And we don't pay for cosmetic implants, just for taking the testicles out.

How many of these procedures has Eunicure paid for?
Since 2004... it's been... let me see... let me see... I can't give you an exact number... between 150 paid for in full... and 150 we paid for in part.

Can you put me in touch with men you've Eunicured?
No. We have to respect patient confidentiality.

Your area code is 913-that's Kansas City, not Topeka.
I'm a media liaison and I work for a lot of different companies. My office is in Kansas City.

How long have you worked with Eunicure?
Three weeks now.

The mailing address listed on Eunicure's website is the street address of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Are you guys affiliated with Fred "God Hates Fags" Phelps?
We're inspired by their teachings. We don't see eye to eye on everything. But we have the same goals. We are not affiliated though.

If you're not affiliated, why do you share offices?
Because Dr. Timothy Feathertree is part of the organization.

Where is Dr. Feathertree, Eunicure's medical director, licensed to practice medicine? I can't find him on any databases in Kansas or anywhere else.
He's not licensed right now. He's not working as a physician. Right now. Or I'm not sure if he is. I'm not up on everything right now. But what was explained to me is, if you're working as a medical director, you don't actually have to be licensed to practice medicine.

Your website was registered only a month ago.
Eunicure has been in existence since mid-2004, but it was just a word of mouth thing. People these days seem to think that you can't exist until the moment you went on the web.

Eunicure is soliciting for donations. Is it a charity?
I haven't checked out what their filings are, but they tell me they're a nonprofit.

Is Eunicure registered with the IRS? Is it a registered 501(c)3?
I honestly don't know.

For a spokesman, you don't seem to know much.
[Laughs.] Frankly, we only went live two weeks ago. We registered the website a month ago, we've been working on it for a bit. We had it out for a very little while. Only Monday we started to let people know we were here on the web.

Before we got off the phone, Mr. Johnson promised to get back to me about where exactly Dr. Feathertree is licensed to practice medicine and where he went to medical school. He e-mailed me later...

I have reached Dr. Feathertree's wife, Jennifer, and she tells me that I misunderstood-Dr. Feathertree is a Doctor of Biology, not of Medicine. He is South African (no, not Nigerian) and graduated in ‘85 from the University of Cape Town. He has never practiced medicine anywhere let alone in the U.S. As I noted, Eunicure does not perform any medical procedures itself, it just refer people to surgeons willing to perform the procedure. Dr. Feathertree limits himself to reviewing the qualifications of the doctors he refers patients to.

I suppose the University of Cape Town was chosen because it's so very far away, and calling to check up on Mr. Johnson's claim might prove logistically difficult. (What time zone is it in? It's in Africa-do they even have phones?) But the University of Cape Town actually has a zippy little website and I was able to blast an e-mail off to the student-records office. "I have checked our records correctly and could find NONE under the name below," writes Sipho Masha in the student-records office.

Of course, I thought this was a hoax all along-come on-but it's a great idea for a hoax, and it's really a shame that it wasn't better done. The dead giveaway? When I was speaking with Andrew Johnson about why Eunicure shared a mailing address with Westboro Baptist Church, he said...

If Dr. Feathertree was going to get hate mail, he might as well get it at that address.