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American Sex Podcast Episode 12: Dr. Joycelyn Elders Interview – Former Surgeon General

Dr. Joycelyn Elders was the second woman and first African American Surgeon General of the United States. She’s also a sexual health revolutionary. In 1994 President Bill Clinton forced Elders to resign after she advised masturbation be recommended in sex ed programs as an alternative to sex to curtail the spread of HIV.

Ken and Sunny talk with Dr. Elders about sexual health; pleasure inclusive sex ed in church; transgender children; the legalization of marijuana; Waffle House vs. Denny’s; #MeToo, and more. Ken and Sunny also celebrate the second season of Netflix’s Stranger Things with their corny parody, “Weirder Occurrences.”

Guest Bio

Dr. M. Joycelyn Elders was the 16th United States Surgeon General. She was the First African American and second woman to ever hold the position. Dr. Elders grew up in rural segregated Arkansas and was the daughter of a sharecropper. After graduating high school, she earned a university scholarship and found her calling was in medicine. Elders became a well respected pediatric endocrinologist. This is where her passion for comprehensive sex education took root. Pregnancy was dangerous for teenage girls with diabetes and other illnesses and elders recognized the need to give these young women clear usable information on pregnancy prevention and sexuality education. She taught these young women not be ashamed of their sexual feelings but instead have agency over their own bodies and to approach their own sexuality with intelligence and responsibility.

In 1986, Elders was named Director of the Arkansas Department of Health. She fought with conservative and religious opponents and opened clinics in schools. She made condoms and comprehensive sex education available to children and teens. In 1993 she was appointed Surgeon General of the United States under President Bill Clinton. After 15 months she was forced to resign when she made an unforgettable remark to the press. When asked if the spread of AIDS could be reduced through advocating masturbation as an alternative to sexual intercourse, Dr. Elders answered:

“I think that is something that is a part of human sexuality and it’s a part of something that perhaps should be taught.”

Already controversial for speaking up about comprehensive sex ed, birth control, and supporting the legalization of marijuana, this was too much. President Clinton forced her to resign. Elders went back to medicine and teaching and has since retired. She is still, however, very vocal about the importance of sexuality education.


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Sunny Megatron
Sunny Megatron is a sexuality educator, sex & relationship writer, media personality, YouTuber, and sex toy expert. She's also the host and executive producer of the Showtime original television series, SEX with Sunny Megatron plus hosts the hit American Sex Podcast. Named one of the 6 most Savvy sexologists in North America, her work has been featured in Cosmo, Playboy, Jezebel, Buzzfeed, CNN, Refinery29, Playgirl Magazine, and more. She's a three-time XBIZ Sexpert of the Year nominee and has received numerous awards for her sexuality blog including Kinkly's #1 Sex Blogging Superhero of 2017. Sunny's passion is helping people become their authentic, sexual selves by learning to overcome shame and shed inhibitions.