The Gender Empowerment Issue
How do you learn about gender? What if none of your friends question their gender? What if one of your friends came out as trans, but you get the feeling they’re tired of answering every single question you have about gender?
There’s no one answer for how to “do gender,” since the idea is evolving and deeply personal. Not only can it be hard to find someone one can talk to about innate personal truths, but it’s always a good idea to get info from more than one source. The good news is that some solid podcasts provide an opportunity to hear thoughtful perspectives from a variety of educated and experienced persons. To get you started, here’s a shortlist of my favorite podcasts about gender:
Daniel M. Lavery was already a well-known comedy writer—he co-founded the Toast (RIP) and authored the best-selling book Texts from Jane Eyre—when he took up the helm of Dear Prudence in 2016. So it was a pleasant surprise when the column’s podcast was not only funny, but dispensed kind wisdom about a wide breadth of topics. Dear Prudence doesn’t touch on issues of gender in every episode, but Lavery’s own transition is a welcome baseline for his advice. This show is great for people wanting to hear examples of conversational “they/them,” and as an added plus, Lavery’s manners are sterling!
Episodes of note: “Bisexual Dating Tips” and “Surprise Naked Houseguest.”
This collaboration between Gimlet and New York magazine’s The Cut died a soft death in December 2019 when the show’s host, Molly Fischer, stepped down to focus on her writing career, but I still highly recommend the back catalog. The Cut on Tuesdays was remarkable because people didn’t think of it as a podcast for women. More often I heard it called “prescient” and “fearless”—it was a podcast about women for everyone. I deeply miss their extraordinary interview series, where they asked successful women how they “get it done.”
Episodes of note: “What If You Regret Becoming a Mom?” and “How Rukmini Callimachi Gets It Done.”
Aymann Ismail frustrates me! But I always listen to his podcast, and I often feel delightfully called out by it. An Egyptian-American journalist with enough grit to walk around the 2016 Republican National Convention introducing himself as a Muslim, Ismail fearlessly interrogates masculine behavior—often his own—and all its various complexities. Many of the show’s topics are low stakes (Twitter fights, feeling weird at yoga), but that also means Man Up might directly speak to your day-to-day.
Episode of note: “An Intervention.”
Journalist and inclusivity educator Tuck Woodstock’s Gender Reveal podcast collects in-depth interviews and conversations about gender, with a focus on nonbinary and trans perspectives. Each episode opens with a “This Week in Gender” segment, when Woodstock highlights news stories related to the nonbinary and trans communities. This sort of reporting—on things that might easily go unnoticed, like legislative bills in far-off states—is invaluable for anyone trying to understand the insults and injustices faced by people outside the conventional gender binary.
Episodes of note: Episode 59 with Brooke Stepp and Episode 64 with Paige Kreisman.