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Radiolab Presents: Invisibilia

Friday, January 09, 2015 - 05:26 PM

(Invisibilia)
Producers' Note: A correction has been made to this audio to reflect the wishes of the subject of this story, Paige Abendroth. NPR's Invisibilia's originally included Paige's birth name in this piece due to a miscommunication between Invisibilia's reporter, Alix Spiegel and Paige. We have not been in contact with Paige directly, but NPR has issued the following statement from Anne Gudenkauf, senior supervising editor of NPR's science desk: "We would never have violated Paige’s wishes in this story; it’s an unfortunate misunderstanding.  Invisibilia's upcoming episode on Paige will be edited to remove references to the name she no longer recognizes. Also the upcoming episode, which focuses on how categories affect us all, will explore in more depth the changes in Paige's life over the two years that she and Alix have spoken and will do that, as always, with attention to bi-gender and transgender reporting guidelines."
Former Radiolab producer Lulu Miller and NPR reporter Alix Spiegel come to the studio to give us a sneak peak of their new show, Invisibilia.

Invisibilia has an upcoming episode about categories, so Alix tells us a story about two very basic categories: boy and girl. We've heard lots of stories about the sometimes blurry boundaries between boy and girl, but Alix introduces us to someone who experiences those categories in a way that was totally, completely new to us.

 

 

 

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Comments [109]

WWSD

I was very uncomfortable with this piece. The extreme othering of Paige, treating her as a wildly bizarre specimen contributes to transphobia and demonstrated a lack of empathy and sensational voyeurism.

From what I can tell as a cis woman, for the past couple of years trans movement has been taking strides to make space for intergender, fluctuating and bigender people within the trans movement, suggesting to me strongly that these experiences are not as rare and singular as Invisibilia is making them out to be. Some cursory research could have made this known.

Oct. 05 2016 10:48 AM
Hailey from Midwest

Just FYI Paige is a woman. The right pronouns to use are She/her/hers. I have personally talked to Paige about this. Also this piece was recorded almost 2 years ago.

Sep. 09 2015 10:57 AM
James Sandown from Melbourne

Whoa whoa whoa whoa... what's with the erasure of bi-gender people as being "confused" or "transitional". Can't you see how terrible that sounds? It's the same as thinking bisexuals are confused about their sexuality or transitioning into being gay. What the hell!

Also, in an effort to counter all the transphobic BS that is for some reason going unmoderated here - I'll make this statement as clear as possible:

TRANSGENDER PEOPLE ARE NOT MAKING A CHOICE TO BE HATED BY THE SOCIETY THEY LIVE IN

BUT SOCIETY HAS A CHOICE OF WHETHER OR NOT TO HATE THEM OR ACCEPT THEM

Jun. 21 2015 08:13 AM
Jean from Athens, Georgia

I've felt like Paige all my life. It was clear to me since about 6 or 7. I saw girls and thought "hey, there's a whole other half of life I'm missing out on." I've always been happy with my male identity, but I wanted to be able to let myself also live out the ways of being only allowed to women. I prefer to be a lamb, but can turn into a tiger in an instant. I have a male and female name and the voices of both. My dreams and my thought-voice are also in both genders. When I had my business doing high-end cabinetry, I used to say, "I have to be strong as an ox, but graceful as a ballerina!"

All in all I think of being bi-gendered as a blessing. My life experience is full, albeit rather complex. I have a great relationship with my wife. We adore each other.

Apr. 27 2015 04:15 AM
Katniss B. Sinclair from FL

This was extremely interesting and I really feel bad for Paige that she/he has to go through this. Its a stressful situation in itself but having to deal with it in a society that does not understand or accept has to be completely horrid. Its hard to believe that scientists have no idea what is going on but I guess there has to be a first for everything

Apr. 14 2015 12:11 AM
Sir Lancelot from my desk

I am going to be completely honest and just say this is wrong. From the age of preschool we were told you get what you get and don't get upset, for everything down the the color crayons. /It,/ is a physiologically unstable individual, and their fall back is becoming a tranny. The defect in peoples mind cause others to get hurt and lose the man or woman they originally fell in love with because of their unstable mental behavior. Either figure it out or get out.

Apr. 13 2015 11:35 PM
Sherlock D. Whiler from United States

Very interesting and well put together podcast. I would have to think that some of the main reasons because of this gender swapping are just because of how the person feels internally. Now, there are probably psychological factors that play a key role in this situation, but it sounds like a more environmental and personal issue. Not knowing Paige at all, I can't really say what I think of her, but it is a very interesting thing to happen to a person. More research can hopefully find out how this happens, and why she switches both genders on a daily basis. It is also interesting to see how she fits into society, and if she is viewed differently. Other than that, I can't see why Paige would be seen as a completely different human being. It is an interesting case nonetheless.

Apr. 12 2015 10:07 PM
John from Ohio

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfgBgpFJYto

Apr. 10 2015 02:47 PM
Alice L. Havisham from Oviedo, FL

Sorry but I am a little sketchy about this… its 2015, there has to be some way the scientists could have figured out why this is happening. Don’t get me wrong it was very interesting and I enjoyed it but I still have questions. What was happening biochemically to Paige? How did the tests differentiate from the ones taken after she was taking new drugs? How did the army affect it that much? I truly felt bad when she said her wife decided to end things. Good luck to Paige, I hope she finds a name for this and that there is a cure so they don’t have to transition so hard!

Apr. 06 2015 10:19 PM
Anna Morrison from Florida, USA

I found this podcast to be very interesting. I think it's so cool how Paige can just be so fluid in with which gender he/she identifies. I'm sure it is very confusing at times, but I think once our society can evolve past such heteronormativity, gender fluidity will be much more normalized and people like Paige will be able to live less in fear and confusion and more in joy and self-love.

Mar. 30 2015 08:31 PM
Shary B from Toronto

The problem is not with individuals shifting between genders, the problem is a society that enforces gender-binary totalitarianism. History and science have proven gender is a completely fluid spectrum- it is only rigid social expectation and control that tortures those who don't identify strongly one way or the other. Dismantling the public enforcement of binary gender roles will take a very long time. It would be a kinder, gentler world for all of us if no one ever had to be defined/confined as male or female again.

FYI: I am a 'straight born-woman', but I dream of the day gender roles will relax and free us all to be: people.

Mar. 29 2015 09:41 PM
Hug from Vietnam

Is there a transcript for the podcasts?

Mar. 28 2015 12:11 AM
Hermione Grisham

I think that this was interesting. I never really thought about that situation and how it would feel. I cant believe that paige can switch so uncontrollably.

Mar. 24 2015 10:15 PM
Ayn K. Melville

The brain is such a mysterious thing. It’s crazy how people such as Paige can wake up a boy one day and a girl another. In some ways it can be cool that she can wake up and be whoever she wants but at the same time it can be confusing for her and those around her. Her friends and family never know who she’ll wake up as. Paige can’t control the switches so I imagine she’d become lost or depressed. I don’t believe this condition is real. I think she has a personality disorder but has learned to train her mind and fool professionals.

Mar. 23 2015 10:46 PM
John

The best thing Lulu Miller ever did for Radiolab was leave. Why bring her back?

Mar. 05 2015 02:25 PM
gerry from Hawaii

During the introduction to Lulu and Elise, and when Elise started talking, I was surprised to hear her use, "...like...." repeatedly. With being a reporter, I thought that one would make special effort to remove that word from their vocabulary.

Mar. 01 2015 06:58 PM
Austin from Indy

I love love this but......

Paige was a stretchy sketchy stretch. I lost a little something of respect for the program, with Paige. It just seems a bit like my personal experience with my brothers Schizophrenia. Her story is addressable, but decrements actual stories about transgenders and their actual life problems.

I think this comment has been repeated. Not a good story for this reason.

Keep up the good work.

Austin Clark

Feb. 28 2015 12:27 AM
Zach from Indiana

The vocal fry... it knows what you did last night... it watches you sleep... it's too powerful!!!

Feb. 24 2015 11:35 PM
G from Indianapolis, IN

I cried throughout this. Paige's story is largely my story.

Since I restarted HRT, in January, I am experiencing daily shifts of gender, much as Paige describes. I long to remain in my male birth sex, since my life revolves around my being a man. Already, my condition forced me into retiring, last year, at age 57. I have time on my hands and would love to be a test subject to learn about this, for the sake of the greater good and my own sanity, family life, and profession. Please, help me.

Feb. 19 2015 08:50 AM
AK

The hosts of the show paraphrase/manipulate the words of the subjects way too much. The substance of the stories matter very little in the wake of the hosts wanting the stories to have more buzz. When I listen to an interview, I want to hear a back-and-forth rather than the host alongside of the host telling the interviewees' stories. I wish This American Life released two episodes per week so I could skip this show.

Feb. 16 2015 03:19 AM
Duane Oxford from Stockton, CA

I enjoyed this episode very much. However, I'm left with more questions than answers. I would love to know what was happening biochemically to Paige both before and after the testosterone therapy as well as the estrogen therapy. Despite all that she has endured, at least from a psychological perspective, she seems to be coping quite well. I wish her the very best. I can't imagine living my life switching from one gender identity to another. Maybe all of this boils down to her expression of being transgender. The problem is we just don't know enough to know what is happening.

Feb. 11 2015 01:06 AM
Agatha M. Silverstein

I fully cannot comprehend someone experiencing a constant switch of gender identities. I really want to know what gender is on his/her birth certificate or how s/he defines his/herself when dating? Although I don't exactly believe the full thing, this story emphasizes the importance of having a stable gender identity because it defines your life. Although some may try to deny it, there is a certain way that men and women are expected to act, and people who act outside of their respective gender role are seen as abnormal. I can't imagine the difficulty Paige has in trying to battle her mood swings and behavior changes, but this sounds like some psychological disorder.

Feb. 10 2015 04:03 AM
Rudyard L. Kevoac from Florida

Hopefully more detailed cognitive study can be performed in the future. Research on Paige could help determine exactly how brain physiology changes due to gender identity.

Feb. 09 2015 02:07 PM
NTG from KY

While I am glad this show chose to explore this important topic, it did so in Such an incredibly offensive manner, treating Paige like an object to be discussed rather than a person to be engaged. This was most clearly evident in the odd end-of-show commentary, during which the hosts repeatedly used the phrase "these people" in referring to Paige and others with (maybe) similar experiences.

Feb. 08 2015 10:18 PM
Asimov M. Gandalf from Orlando

This was a very interesting topic. It must have been extremely hard for Page and her wife. I'm having trouble wrapping my own head around this

Feb. 08 2015 08:28 PM
Marko T. from California

I love listening to Radiolab and I'm a huge fan, but his was the worst episode.

Feb. 08 2015 12:59 PM
Anna J. Silverstine

This was a very interesting podcast. I can't imagine what it would be like to be a man. I imagine this whole situation must be difficult for Paige.

Feb. 06 2015 05:11 PM
Elise Amiot from Canada

Just a few minutes before listening to this podcast I read a story on Slate about animals with both genders. There is actually a photo of a northern cardinal, one half of which shows the coloring of a female and the other half the coloring of a male. There's proof that such things do happen. I can't imagine being torn apart like that, and worse, not being believed.

Feb. 03 2015 03:16 PM
Becky K. Woolf from United States

I really enjoyed this NPR, especially being in the LGBT community. Sexuality seems to be a big problem for societies to cope with. Paige's story was very interesting and I loved her confidence. I believe gender roles do not define one as a person. I live by the saying "to each his own," and I believe so should everyone else. The true and only way someone will feel comfortable when interacting in the LGBT in anyway is if they have the open minded capacity and confidence to do so.

Feb. 03 2015 06:26 AM
Gertrude G. Goethe from Cosey chair, my house

I'm so incredibly glad that this NPR exists. While it's important that LGBTQA+ subjects ought to be brought up more in the media (and not as a slapstick pun or some other degrading way), it's usually more focused towards the LGB than the QTA+. Some of my closest friends are actually Transgender/Genderfluid, so I definitely felt happy that they treated this topic with respect to Paige and other Transgender people. In my opinion, the key to finding out more hormonal or neurological information on bi-gender, genderfluid, agender people...Etc is to accept them into society as normal people. Stop asking about what's "wrong" with them and embrace the concept that sex doesn't equal gender. Why would any LGBTQA+ person pretend to be who they are just for attention when there's so much discrimination and hate towards them?

Feb. 02 2015 10:33 PM
Lyra K Christie

This podcast was really interesting to me. I have never heard the term bigender before and Paige's story was very unique. I couldn't even imagine how she felt when she switched to female and felt totally disgusted living in her male body. I'm glad that she is happier now although her marriage could not survive after the estrogen treatments. It seems like she has almost gained a sense of who she truly is.

Feb. 01 2015 05:22 PM
Tomas Garcia

Did I miss something or is it true that Paige only mentioned feeling "disgusted" when flipping from male to female? This, along with the fact that *only* being in the military made the feelings go away (but they came back right after her/his service was completed), and the fact that Paige ultimately decided to live fully as a woman seems to point to the idea that Paige was actually just a transgender woman all along that spent a long time getting comfortable with the idea.

I've definitely met people that are gender agnostic, but Paige's unique condition of "flipping" between genders is IMHO a result of not fully being comfortable with the idea of living as a woman - i.e. not being fully committed to the idea of being a woman. What do y'all think?

Jan. 30 2015 05:13 PM
Eddie from La

i think he is just some narcissist idiot.

Jan. 30 2015 05:04 AM
Elizabeth E. Moore from Florida

I think this podcast is very interesting. I'm glad that the term "transgender" is being discussed more in the media and in our society in general. I feel like we should talk about this more in the media so that people who are uncomfortable with the topic can become more comfortable with it, because being transgender is not as uncommon as some people think. We should all learn to accept everyone. In my opinion, it was kind of odd that they thought something was wrong with Paige, like psychosis. I don't blame her for feeling like she was going crazy, but the way she feel is actually more common than she thinks. The people talking in the podcast didn't really give this feeling a definite term though, which is "gender fluid," when one feels as though they aren't either gender, but often switch between genders.

Jan. 26 2015 11:27 PM
Calvin Cooliage from Florida

It's severely interesting how some days Paige feels a certain gender and then another she feels another. It's kind of cool that Paige can wake up and be whoever she wants to be. In a way this can be confusing for the people around Paige though considering she is a different person depending on what gender on what day. It's so strange how she has sudden urges to change her persona and character. It is true that Paige is still in control of herself but its interesting how she flips back and forth whenever she pleases. It's too bad that Paige wasn't born with a chosen gender and that she is so confused and indecisive all the time. It must be very hard for her to adjust to everyday life. I'm not sure that the brain can determine whether or not the person wishes to be male or female within the hour. Maybe it's real, but it's very hard to believe that this condition is real.

Jan. 26 2015 10:55 PM
Agatha Y. Coleridge

I found this podcast to be incredibly interesting. Page’s situation was so intriguing because of how quickly her brain could change her perception of herself from male to female. I felt so bad for her though, because it must have been so hard to live such a rapidly changing life and to feel so out of place all the time. It was amazing how Page’s wife stayed with her for so long despite Page’s situation, but it was sad when they had to divorce and I felt so bad for Page. I’m glad at the end that Page finally found her place as a female, and hopefully she’ll meet others who are in the same situation as she is in.

Jan. 26 2015 09:36 PM
Milo C Rousseau from Florida

Brains are weird. There are so many of these strange quirks that happen because of little anomalies. I really hope this condition gets properly named in the future. Even if this ends up being classified as a psychological disorder, which it doesn't really seem to be, having a label to put on it would make them feel so much more in control of their lives. I can't imagine the pain and fear that someone would feel by being completely alone in this kind of experience.

Jan. 26 2015 09:18 PM
Orion from toledo

Is it just me or does this podcast follow Serials production style to the T? I can not handle the narrator constantly talking and putting meaning into the story. I just want to hear paige talk. I do the audio production, except for the piano.

Jan. 26 2015 08:50 PM
Harriet Truman from Oviedo

Its odd how the mind works for every single person. People would like to criticize people like Paige for not knowing whether shes a girl or boy but the mind works in its own way and can even be proven by science that this is normal and can be explained neurologically. Hes goes through life just one person and all of a sudden bam he feels like someone else. It must be really hard on someone to feel like that. It must put a lot of emotional strain on someone to constantly going back and forth with these feelings. Its good she found other people who felt the same and how accepting people are to that.

Jan. 26 2015 08:02 PM
Jane J. Asimov from oviedo

The human mind is so complex, crazy and down right mysterious. Just when we think scientist have figured out the human mind something crazy surfaces. Paige's story is underrated and underpublicized. We constantly hear about transgender, bisexual and homosexual people but never paige's case of switching from boy to girl "modes". I wish people would stop criticizing and denying what people free because it makes them uncomfortable and just start accepting it. Because if we all put our minds together we could find answers because in my opinion only the human brain will be able to figure out the human brain.

Jan. 26 2015 06:33 PM

I'd like to talk specifically about the Spatial-visual ability that they linked to the male/female gender. Much research has gone into this, and Spatial Visualization is a skill that can be learned by either gender. To suggest that the flipping of male to female would weaken his/her ability to perform on this test is unfounded and hurtful. It re-enforces gender stereotypes that aren't true, and discourage women from pursuing careers in math and science.

Males typically do score better on this test without training, due to the nature of the games they play as children (sports, legos, etc.); however, females can study these skills and come to the same level as males in as little as one month. There is a great deal of research behind this. For more info, see a paper by Sorby SA in 2001 or a new paper by Segil, J 2015. Full disclosure, I am neither of these authors but work closely with this subject and one of the authors mentioned.

Jan. 24 2015 03:49 PM
Miss Ann Thorpe from DC

Did any of the intrepid reporters covering this story consider consulting an ENDOCRINOLOGIST? As in, possibly exploring the possibility that this might have to do with endocrine disruption? It makes sense to start with a neurologist, but when the physiological effects became clear (premature dip in testerone levels at the age of 30, for instance), one would think that a specialist in the field of studying how hormones affect our physiological, emotional, and cognitive capabilities would be a natural option for a consultation on the matter. I find it odd actually, especially given the prevalence of chemicals like atrazine in our environment.

Jan. 22 2015 01:36 AM
Ken Murphy

If I heard one more of those clicking sounds I was going to punch my iPhone.

Jan. 21 2015 10:13 PM
John from USA

Everything Lulu Miller touches turns to lead.

Jan. 21 2015 12:17 PM
Ender M. Gatsby from Mars

I actually did find this to be very interesting and on a very touchy subject. More so now with many fighting for equality. In another light the story on Paige is particularly interesting mostly because I have never heard a story quite like this one before. Somewhat a sad story not knowing what gender you should belong to but it makes you wonder if people like this are consistent through history. And if so you would think we could find some written evidence of it. At least thats what I was questioning. Anyway I think the whole mixed gender thing is something to be celebrated for it is something truly special.

Jan. 20 2015 11:17 PM
Archimbold S Hannibal

I found this podcast very interesting. I have always been interested in the mind. In the very beginning of this cast, upon hearing of the different gender, I immediately thought of doing brain scans and psych tests. Later in the cast when actual psych facts are introduced it was extremely interesting to hear about the facts and statistics shown and tested.

Jan. 20 2015 08:40 PM
Toni R Sinclair from FL

I really have learned a lot about this subject. I never really knew where or how to understand and receive more information, and im glad I came across this podcast. I also have recently learned of Leelah Alcorn's death, and wanted to learn more.

Jan. 20 2015 07:53 AM
Aldous t Chrinchton

I think this is interesting. The mind is so crazy sometimes. This really upscalers my knowledge of transgenders.

Jan. 19 2015 10:03 PM
Huxley Wilder

this is so interesting! With the recent death of Leelah Alcorn, my attention has been brought to the topic of transgender. But this takes it to a whole new level. I have heard something of people who switch back and forth in their gender identity, but never really thought to hard about it. It's an amazing thing to hear. I can't even imagine what it would be like to go through that kind of crisis. It seems so crazy, so out there to even hear about. But it makes me happy to know that Paige found ways to make herself happy.
"When things don't have a clear category, that's scary." I think that quote is so extremely true. I don't think we can really tell a person what they are feeling is real or not. They are what they are.

Jan. 19 2015 09:25 PM
Upton D. Wilder

I thought this podcast was really odd. I'm not gender confused or switch genders randomly so I'm not sure how to even grasp what they talked about in the podcast. It sounds horrible and I feel really bad for the person they interviewed. But I mean props to Paige for persevering and finding her way through all of it. The human brain is really an odd thing isn't it?

Jan. 19 2015 04:20 PM
Rob

PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL.

http://bloodcountessabendroth.tumblr.com/post/108145414116/the-official-about-that-npr-interview-post

Jan. 19 2015 09:55 AM

I'm surprised that the female voice is so offensive to so many Radiolab listeners. Y'all are really sexist.

Jan. 18 2015 07:57 PM
Christian Appel from New York

I just filed an incident report with GLAAD. Hopefully they will be able to get both Invisibilia and Radiolab to offer an apology to Paige and to their trans* listeners as well.

Jan. 18 2015 04:15 PM
George

I found the first two podcasts very interesting (maybe a trifle overproduced...), and the ghost boy segment quite affecting. However please lose the "...this got Lulu and I thinking." Makes I cringe.

Jan. 17 2015 05:38 PM

I cringed when one of the girls (either Lulu or Alise) said that they "wouldn't understand" what having good spatial abilities is like because they are women, and that only men are very good at it. That assertion is just so wrong on so many levels.

Invisibilia is introduced as a show that examines the things that invisibly influence our behavior. It completely missed its statement of purpose at that very moment. Maybe it's due to ethnocentrism or lack of personal experience. Many people are influenced by assumptions made upon their gender, race, or age, which then manifest in their behavior. Take the famous study on black male students being tested against white male students. Especially when told that they are less intellectually able than their white peers. Women have been fighting reductionist stereotypes for ages, which demean their abilities to handle as many things as men do. Yes, EVEN spatial abilities. Add that complexity to the fact that we all have varying types of personalities which influence our ability to perform different tasks compared to other people. Some people will be better at parallel parking than other people, whether male or female.

I really affects me personally in no way what Paige decides to do with herself, or what decides to call herself, and what helps her cope with herself. It makes no difference in my life, and my only hope is that she is treated respectfully by the people she encounters. However, I want to know more about what makes a person feel that they are one gender or another. Why does it sound so much like gender stereotyping? Are they being influenced by the assumptions we have in our society about gender roles? What does it mean for those of us who are still within the gender binary, and have what other people see as "atypical" gender behavior, and yet have felt no need to question our gender identity. So far my observations on anecdotal stories like this one, have led me to think that some people have a strong biological case for it since it can come at such young age, and for others it might just be a psychiatric manifestation. So to hear that some scientists aren't entirely convinced about Paige's case doesn't surprise me.

I'll try listening to more Invisibilia and see where the show goes, but if Lulu and Alise take things as they did for this episode (and insist on pulling heart strings) I might not be able to continue listening.

Jan. 17 2015 06:20 AM
Julian from Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I know it is a super minor aspect of this amazing podcast... but I love The Album Leaf you featured. Love it.

Jan. 17 2015 05:52 AM
jhaars from United States

Add my voice to the many who were disappointed in this broadcast. It was not science-based, tone deaf on gender, and poorly put together. It also apparently pissed off the person who was interviewed (2 whole years ago)

Jan. 16 2015 11:27 PM
Chris from Minneapolis

Wow, if this person cared about there marriage so much, then why go through with gender modification. It seems the wife was very excepting and was willing to compromise on the issue. Just seems like this person has to be in a constant state of flux. Kuddos to the wife for being so excepting. Sorry your significant other was not so appreciative.

Jan. 16 2015 06:43 PM
Mitch T from South Dakota

The song at 20:00 and 23:00 is "Over the Pond" by The Album Leaf. I went on a huge goose chase to find it - hope this helps someone.

@scifecta

Jan. 16 2015 11:50 AM
Beth Levy from Israel

Anothr story to demonstrate how little we know and how diverse and wonderful we are as a race.

Jan. 16 2015 06:58 AM
Adam

Wow. The person interviewed is a real obnoxious moron. Not everyone with a gender crisis has valuable insight. This person was an incoherent fame seeking babbler. I kept expectin to hear Maury Povich being the interviewer. Sorry, but this was a pile of crap. Bad science, bad editing, disrespectful to the community, and just poor form. An insult to the craft of journalism.

Jan. 16 2015 06:25 AM
chris

Why the immense focus on the clicks? Was the vast topic of gender dysphoria not enough to fill up the 25 minutes that you had to return to some inane couple thing multiple times?

Although a fascinating topic, the frequent refocusing on what is essentially marital petting was intolerable and insufferable. I couldn't bear to listen past the half way mark.

You had great content and should have honestly edited out the totally irrelevant B-story. It detracted from the focus and gave zero support to the underlying narrative. It didn't provide focus or context and was not even marginally enjoyable to listen to.

Jan. 16 2015 01:12 AM
LT

Read this from Paige herself. http://bloodcountessabendroth.tumblr.com/post/108145414116/the-official-about-that-npr-interview-post

Jan. 15 2015 11:25 PM
Angry Radiolab Fan from United States

I am a huge Radiolab fan, but this was one of the worst broadcasts I've ever listened in my life. I'm very disappointed that Radiolab promotes such nonsense.

Jan. 15 2015 11:16 PM

Very great... and mirrors my own life's experiences very closely!

Jan. 15 2015 11:03 PM
li zhi from Not so sunny, Cleveland

Am I wrong, or is it totally wrong (ie offensive) to describe a person's body as having a gender? I thought the whole point of 'gender' was to decouple biology with identity?? Note the following from the show:"Typically, people who are transgender feel like they are one gender trapped in the body of the other gender." The narrator confuses Paige's body's sex (biology) with her gender (mental state). Isn't that a no-no? I wasn't bothered by Alix's fry the first time through - but when I went back to capture her quote, yeah VERY annoying and so were the clicks, if some is good, more ain't necessarily better. And I'm really worried. I have a pink dress shirt I bought because I like it, now I realize I must have 'switched' - same as when I eat Ice Cream as comfort food. IIRC, the story completely failed to indicate how long the transition from male gender to (almost exclusively) female took her. 30 years male and she/he didn't switch all at once AND the transition was not smooth but turbulent?? Wow, who would have guessed that?! What to me is shocking is that apparently neither the hosts nor the psychologists they contacted understand the one of the very basic things we know (scientifically) about the self, viz: it is a chimera of many mental states/processes. To attempt to impose the same single "characteristic" on all of them is a fools game. I'm no more "all" male, than I am all "old" or "fat", although all three would generally describe me to the average person. All of us change mental state (mood) minute by minute, Paige's problem, it seems to me was her need to be aware of "who she was" from second to second. It isn't true that sudden changes of mood can't fit a certain set of pathological diagnoses, depending on their severity. I don't mean to imply that gender is 'just' a mood, but rather behavior (and mental state) can't be divided into mood and other unrelated variables (gender, focus, fatigue, intelligence, etc.). That is the reductionist view of the world, and at some point the world is a synthesis, a whole. I wish Paige's first name was available...I want to look up that color. And the other thing a bit confusing, Paige hadn't flipped to male in a long time...but she did so on the show?? When was this show taped??

Jan. 15 2015 06:25 PM
li zhi from Not so sunny, Cleveland

Am I wrong, or is it totally wrong (ie offensive) to describe a person's body as having a gender? I thought the whole point of 'gender' was to decouple biology with identity?? Note the following from the show:"Typically, people who are transgender feel like they are one gender trapped in the body of the other gender." The narrator confuses Paige's body's sex (biology) with her gender (mental state). Isn't that a no-no? I wasn't bothered by Alix's fry the first time through - but when I went back to capture her quote, yeah VERY annoying and so were the clicks, if some is good, more ain't necessarily better. And I'm really worried. I have a pink dress shirt I bought because I like it, now I realize I must have 'switched' - same as when I eat Ice Cream as comfort food. IIRC, the story completely failed to indicate how long the transition from male gender to (almost exclusively) female took her. 30 years male and she/he didn't switch all at once AND the transition was not smooth but turbulent?? Wow, who would have guessed that?! What to me is shocking is that apparently neither the hosts nor the psychologists they contacted understand the one of the very basic things we know (scientifically) about the self, viz: it is a chimera of many mental states/processes. To attempt to impose the same single "characteristic" on all of them is a fools game. I'm no more "all" male, than I am all "old" or "fat", although all three would generally describe me to the average person. All of us change mental state (mood) minute by minute, Paige's problem, it seems to me was her need to be aware of "who she was" from second to second. It isn't true that sudden changes of mood can't fit a certain set of pathological diagnoses, depending on their severity. I don't mean to imply that gender is 'just' a mood, but rather behavior (and mental state) can't be divided into mood and other unrelated variables (gender, focus, fatigue, intelligence, etc.). That is the reductionist view of the world, and at some point the world is a synthesis, a whole. I wish Paige's first name was available...I want to look up that color. And the other thing a bit confusing, Paige hadn't flipped to male in a long time...but she did so on the show?? When was this show taped??

Jan. 15 2015 06:22 PM
Julia Glick from Corvallis, Oregon

THank you to RadioLab for airing this segment on bi gendered people, of which I am one. I am essentially female but grew up male, and taking estrogen years ago was the beginning of a change I am still learning to appreciate. I am bisexual, bi gendered, male and female. My nervous system changed from mental to physical under the effect of estrogen. I can pass as male when I need to: like riding my motorcycle (male) through small towns where I need to be stealth. (In fact, I turn "stealth" on its head; I am in stealth mode when I need to appear male rather than pass as female, which I can't do very well.)But even when I am swaggering into a biker bar in Burns, I am always female underneath. It is a balance I am comfortable with. Most important, I am aware I have relinquished male privilege as a female and I must always be aware of my surroundings.
I am so fortunate to live in Oregon, a place where tolerance and acceptance of gender is widespread.
THanks again it was a lovely show and I cried most of the way through it, listening to Page. I understand her.

Jan. 15 2015 02:35 PM
LoveRadiolab from Seattle

I love Radiolab so much and respect these ladies so much, but the sound of their voices is a little much for me. It is reminiscent of those radio voices, those radio personalities, who love the sound of their own voice so much that they drag on the end of words almost like an intellectual valley girl. i'm not at all trying to be mean, I'm genuinely interested in the topic and have always loved and respected Radio Lab very much. But the voices stood out to me so much that I felt compelled to note it.

Jan. 15 2015 01:33 PM
Katie Fox

I love the show!

Jan. 14 2015 08:01 PM
sayingdoesntmakeitso from Manhattan

"For people like Sayingdoesntmakeitso, denying the existence of trans* people and the reality that trans* people are who they say they are is unscientific and dismissive and actively hurts people. Transwomen are women and transmen are men. All people should be referred to by the pronouns they choose and respected as who they live as."

I am not denying the existence of trans people. Obviously they exist. Invisibilia just did an episode about one of them. However, if they were women, you would not be referring to them as "transwomen" and "transmen", you would just be referring to them as women and men. The fact that their feelings are hurt by not being women or men does not change biology. Any more than Michael Jackson may have wanted to be white, but wasn't.

To call Paige a woman because she suddenly feels like one in the moment is the height of absurdity and scientifically and medically incorrect. That is not meant to hurt or deny anyone. It's simply true.

Jan. 14 2015 12:39 PM
Anya from Portland, OR

Disclaimer: This comment starts with a question, not a statement, nor is it meant to slander any profession. That said, here's the basic question that will lead to several others. I heard somewhere (don't remember where) that way more babies are born hermaphodites than most of us would ever suspect and that before they leave the hospital, the doctors ask the parents to choose whether they want a boy or a girl and perform surgery on the newborns. I have no way of verifying this, but RadioLab or Invisibility probably could. As I said, it's a question, i.e., is it true? If it is, wouldn't it go a long way to explain why some people feel like they're in a body of the wrong gender (transexuals) because their parents chose what they (the parents) preferred, not what the infant would have preferred (assuming he/she knew and was able to communicate it). Couldn't it also explain alternating gender/gender fluidity because maybe some people are supposed to be both, not one or the other? In societies that are more natural and more accepting than ours (and that may not provide surgery as an option), how often does hermaphoditism occur?

BTW, congrats on the new show! There seems to be a lot of bitching and moaning about this program not being "scientific", so here's my take. It certainly is provocative and raises a lot of questions--probably more than it answers, but isn't how a great deal of science begins--with "scientific INQUIRY"? C'mon people, it's a starting point, for crying out loud, and I, for one, would like to hear more delving into the matter.

Jan. 14 2015 02:43 AM

I love RadioLab. You guys are great storytellers. You have surprised me over and over again.

Though because of that I must say that if I were to be surprised with another tale like Invisiblia when I was expecting my weekly dose of RadioLab I would have second thoughts. Only because I found myself utterly disappointed by this show. I agree with a lot of previous comments.

I have nothing agains Paige. I wish her a happy wonderful life. But every time a person has a mood swing and calls it something different, is not a reason to produce a story on it and make the claim its revolutionary. I was looking for scientific evidence to prove me wrong, but there was little. Even the experts seemed to disagree. I think there are real problems in the world, I also believe that sometimes people just need to take responsibility for their actions and stop blaming things for their behaviors. This person is not alone in the human experience.

Jan. 14 2015 12:29 AM
Peter Wood from Indiana

The introduction of the piece had me cringing. I know the media can lag behind the GSRM community, but the way it was phrased sounded like an NPR show produced in one of the most liberal cities in the country was downright baffled by the idea of genderfluidity. The term never came up, so I'm not sure if the producers knew about it or not, but as it turned out, AGI is different from what I understand genderfluidity to be (kind of the opposite of the "fluid" part), so I settled in for an interesting study of a new kind of gender minority. I would've liked more info about the neurochemical basis, but apparently it's too little-studied to have many details yet, so oh well.

Jan. 13 2015 11:55 PM
Audrey

Yeesh. 1997 called, they want their outdated "trapped in the wrong body" metaphor back!

This show was honestly a mess. Like was there any fact-checking at all? This 'reads' like a piece in a tabloid magazine: shoddy research and dramatic claims played up for shock value. Too bad on the radio they can't show "before" and "after" pictures of Paige to really quench your thirst for the absurd, amirite?

All the gawking at this woman by the interviewer was cringe-worthy to listen to. I mean really, how hard is it to treat somebody with a different experience to you like a human being rather than, say, a dog riding a unicycle?

Yuck. Really not sure I'll be listening again.

Jan. 13 2015 11:18 PM
Kyle von Bose from United States

This story just seems to be an oddity of gender story, but it's completely anecdotal. It's kind of interesting, but it really just seems like a disorder.

What I really want to say is that this story seems very out of place being presented on Radiolab.

Jan. 13 2015 08:14 PM
CJ from Canada

I had a lot of the same criticisms as some of the posters here, but I have to say the other episode of Invisibilia was much more interesting and I will keep listening for a few more times to decide if this show matches my interests.

If you didn't like this episode, I'd say give the next few a chance before giving up on it.

Jan. 13 2015 05:35 PM

All the charm of a high school blog, and unfortunately only a little more professional. Maybe because she started RL, the narrator assumes she has authority. From the get go she assumes that we're totally into her and the story, unlike RL which has earned it over the years and does so again, from scratch, with each episode they produce. The narrator's enthusiasm sounds like acting. Like she's selling the story. Hard to listen too - as opposed to RL, which is hard to turn off.

Jan. 13 2015 04:55 PM
Posey from MN

Oh Reggie. This is a preview episode for a different podcast than Radiolab. I know that you probably don't consider reading/listening comprehension as quite STEM enough, but there you go. Not Radiolab.

Also, the dismissive, sneering transphobia (under the cloak of "empiricism") in some of the early comments here is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising.

Jan. 13 2015 11:30 AM
Mariana from KCMO

I was/am very excited to know there is a show by Lulu Miller. I've enjoyed her stories and narrating style for a while now (fangirl here). Congratulations on that. I'm not precisely a fan of Alix's slight weird pronunciation at the end of her sentences, though. It's as if everything has to be a question? But, that's just on a personal opinion.

On the topic of the show itself, I agree with the comments on how the boundaries between gender identity and sex were treated poorly. The part with the tests and how people performed differently depending on their gender identity should definitely come with some sources. It's a strong affirmation that basically means that, as a female, I should be very bad at my job (I'm an engineer). Also noticed that the narrator kept switching between the term gender and sex for Paige's identity. Her psychological identity (gender) and her physical identity (sex) are two different things.
More than anything, I was disappointed that they stayed within the gender binary spectrum. There's so much more than just identifying as male or female that could be explored that wasn't even mentioned. Maybe this is an exploration for a longer episode, or a million of them. But, definitely, it should be tackled more carefully. Congratulations on the show, congratulations on talking about difficult subjects such as this one.

Jan. 13 2015 09:46 AM
Gertrude S. Ripley

I thought it was very interesting that a lack of testosterone could make peter feel like he should be female. I thought it was also interesting that peter would flip genders in seconds. Peter was even married to a female and would put on his wives clothes. I also feel bad for him because growing up he considered himself a normal boy but as years passed he struggled with his gender.

Jan. 12 2015 10:03 PM
Toni L. Gatsby from NY

This podcast is very interesting! I have never thought about gender this way. Many people find this hard to process, because the society has so many standards of what's right and what's wrong. This is a difficult topic, and an interesting thing to discuss. My favorite part of this podcast is when Paige talks about the tongue clicking! This podcast may stop some people from being awkward or weird when talking about the subject of gender and gender equality. The topics discussed show how quickly people judge, and how human nature doesn't grasp any things different from the apparent norm.

Jan. 12 2015 09:42 PM
Lorelei M. Coleridge

I'm really glad that this podcast was created. Nonbinary genders deserve more mainstream recognition and respect. I was ready to dislike this podcast toward the beginning, based on its somewhat sketchy science, but I really appreciate how the interviewer respected Paige's individual experience despite the contrary arguments. Though Paige finally ended up identifying as a trans woman, there are a large number of bigender and genderfluid people in the world, as well as other nonbinary identities, who never fall into a category. It is really important that such popular media as Radiolab continue to contribute to transgender representation and visibility. Only through increased public awareness and acceptance can the struggle for rights for marginalized groups progress. This story was really touching to me, and that is not something I say very often.

Jan. 12 2015 09:18 PM
Elie S. Totsky from Orlando, FL

I think gender identity is a very touchy subject that when talked about, ends quickly due to awkwardness. It is important to talk about due to that exact reason. People tend to judge someone too quickly when hearing their opinion on a subject like this or similar and I think that's wrong. Everyone is different, though many will conform to fit the standards set on how you have to be, to be recognized as an individual in such "clique." I believe being yourself doesn't confine you to conform to be in a certain group, I believe it allows you to branch into having friends of many different "cliques." Though that was a little off topic, I believe the struggle for one figuring out who they are starts off with accepting yourself before you take any other action.

Jan. 12 2015 09:09 PM
Becky Gatsby from Fl

Gender identity has been a problem for a very long time. People are finally starting to pay more attention to how someone identifies themselves without judgement. I think we live in a very good era where people are starting to accept someone for who they really are.

Jan. 12 2015 08:39 PM
Catniss S. Vonnegut from Oviedo

I think it's really important that people are finally talking about gender identity and those who don't fit into society's idea of gender. I don't think that the researchers that they cite used a large enough sample to be representative of people that switch genders. I think that this podcast had the opportunity to discuss the very controversial topic of gender ambiguity and non-binary people. I liked what they did discuss with the personal story about Paige but I really feel that they missed the mark by not talking about all the aspects of gender instead of just this one. Overall I am slightly disappointed with this podcast.

Jan. 12 2015 07:45 PM
Alice H. Nash

Although I am, like the other commenters here, a little disappointed by the lack of straight up science in this podcast, I am happy that RadioLab made a podcast about the exploration of gender. I think this is a subject that people need to become more familiar with, and the only way to do that is to keep talking about it. Kudos to RadioLab for branching out to new areas.

Jan. 12 2015 07:25 PM
Kaleb Coleman from United States

Really interesting story, but Alix's vocal fry is driving me nuts O_o Don't think I can do another episode.

Jan. 12 2015 06:05 PM
Reggie from Kansas

Ani from Ithaca, your comment:

"those of you uncomfortable with this exploration of gender, your discomfort says more about you and your own constructions and categories than it says about the quality of the show"

Your comment says more about you than any of the commenters. There were 17 comments prior to yours, and not one of the commenters who were upset with the integrity of the episode said anything about being uncomfortable with the exploration of gender. Not one. Go ahead, Ani, read them all. Are you done? Each one had commented that their disrespect for the episode is because it wasn't grounded, at all, in science. Yes, sometimes the show strays from science - generally ones where Robert interjects his affection for religion, or other irrational topics. I choose to not finish those episodes and wait for the next rational episode. Those also get similar comments. Overall the program sticks to fact-based, testable science.
Ari, it is sad that you have made assumptions on other people's views that completely did not exist. Your comments were unscientific, and do not belong on a scientific comment section.

Jan. 12 2015 04:26 PM
Thomathy from Toronto, ON

To add to the disappointment with the lack of a sceptical take on the issues examined in this episode, I would add to the points made by Mariel A. to include the quite problematic lack of examination of gender ambiguity, the blatant reinforcement of a gender-binary (because of the lack of examination of gender ambiguity) and the poor editing in the narrator's mixed uses of gender/sex.

To pile onto the glaring problem others have noted, I'm disappointed with the uncritical reference to studies that purport to show differences in gender performance as though those differences are significant and delineated sharply by gender when they are, in fact, not.
_____

For people like Sayingdoesntmakeitso, denying the existence of trans* people and the reality that trans* people are who they say they are is unscientific and dismissive and actively hurts people. Transwomen are women and transmen are men. All people should be referred to by the pronouns they choose and respected as who they live as.

With that out of the way, the case of Page does not negate the experiences of trans* people or even, necessarily, impact them, rather her case (and I'm assuming that's the pronoun she prefers) is an example illustrating and briefly illuminating (though narrated confusedly and examined poorly) the fact that gender is a social construct and people, perhaps rather more severely in Page's case, move and exist within that construct in a more fluid way than is often acknowledged.

I would point to genderqueer people to illustrate that point. This podcast came so close to crashing right upon that term and all the research and people out there who could have added much more to the narrative and the depth of the topic, but missed it fractionally simply to push forward the desired narrative about a person (and alluded-to others) with an, admittedly, fascinating condition who switches 'categories' (categories that aren't even invisible).

I'll add that if the show is really intended to focus on topics of an invisible nature and their impact on people's lives, the choice to examine gender was ill-conceived: gender is one of the most visible and strictly enforced categories that affect people's lives.
_____

I am glad that gender issues were explored. I'm disappointed that they were explored in this haphazard, unsceptical and uncritical way. If that level of content is what can be expected from Invisibilia in the future, I can't think I'd listen to it. If that level of content can be expected more often on Radiolab, I don't think I could continue to listen to it either.

Jan. 12 2015 04:26 PM
Lee Harlem from United States

the clicking made me irate

can't explain why

Jan. 12 2015 04:11 PM
Ani from Ithaca

I generally don't leave comments but I felt compelled after reading the comments left here. First, the expectation that this show needed to be solidly based in science and not just a human story is surprising to me, because Radiolab long ago stopped focusing completely on science related stories. They tend to do human pieces more and more, and frankly I miss the science pieces. But I think they are orienting themselves to cover a range of topics.
Second those of you uncomfortable with this exploration of gender, your discomfort says more about you and your own constructions and categories than it says about the quality of the show. Be curious about the fact that you're put off, and perhaps it's not the fault of producers.

Jan. 12 2015 03:55 PM
Mia Belanger from United States

This was interesting and different. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I think this is a good topic to be talked about because people don't know that this exists. It's hard to take in beacuse it is different.

Jan. 12 2015 02:25 PM
Jenna from NYC

What is the song used around the end of the episode at minute 29?

Jan. 12 2015 11:54 AM
Pippa

I came to the comments to post pretty much exactly what Mariel A. said (though she put it far better than I could have). I am so disappointed (and, to be honest, offended) by this podcast. Really disappointing that you guys would put your name to such a shoddy, unscientific story. I like this podcast because it (usually) challenges basic assumptions, rather than unquestioningly reasserting them. This episode made no attempt to challenge the seriously questionable science used here. That's bad enough in and of itself, but in this case you left unquestioned pretty antiquated, and often damaging, views about 'gendered brains'.

I would really like to hear a followup episode to this exploring the effect of stereotyping on the kinds of tests described in this episode. I've read examples that show that having someone, say, write a story in the first person as a particular gender affects their performance in tests of typically 'gendered' tasks. (If anyone's interested in reading more about this - and I would really recommend doing so since it's so interesting - Cordelia Fine's Delusions of Gender unpicks this stuff brilliantly.)

I had to turn this off part way through when I first listened to it because it made me really angry/upset. I agree that it's pretty irresponsible of you to put this out there as if the science used in it is in any way reliable. I gave it a second listen to see if you'd bring in some rigour or challenge any of the views outlined; I was again disappointed. I'm so glad the comments are full of so much sense, though :-).

Come on, guys, please bring some science to the table, here?

I guess I could just be missing the hidden rigour here because of my fluffy female brain, though.

Jan. 12 2015 07:15 AM
Peter Wood from Sydney, Australia

I spent the whole episode picturing the interviewee, Peter, as Tom Cruise (sounded exactly like him).

Jan. 12 2015 12:55 AM
Denise from USA

First, I want to say that while I found the segment really interesting I had some serious issues with it. Maria A. wrote about it so much more succinctly than I ever could, but how Peter/Paige flipped between male and female felt more like a personality change, and a personality change based on society's definitions of gender. Spatial-visual ability? Wanting to talk or not wanting to talk about a painful experience? Those are just traits that differ from person to person, not traits that define whether someone is male or female. In that aspect, this segment came dangerously close to implying that there are intellectual traits that can be assigned to men and women, and I had a HUGE problem with that. (i.e. If the subject had said something like "I'm better at math when I'm a guy" I might have stopped listening altogether...) Again, Maria A., thank you so much for making the points that you did in your comment! I'm glad I wasn't the only who noticed that.

@Alix/Lulu: At the end of the show, one of you gave the name of this sort of condition, "alternating engendered incongruity"? (I don't remember if that was exactly it) Either way, I have heard another term: "intersexual", people who seem to be stuck firmly between the realm of two genders (either biologically or physically). I've never heard of Peter/Paige's case before but the hermaphroditic switching between genders (if it's indeed biological/physiological) might fall under that catgory of "intersexual"? Maybe you guys could do a follow up show on it?

Jan. 11 2015 08:58 PM
J from USA

Wow, a podcast started by Lulu Miller! Count me out...

Jan. 11 2015 07:34 PM
Anna B. Silverstien

I found this to be an interesting case, and would like to see what further research shows. I'd be curious to see more behind the science of this episode, but overall still something to think about. To see if this occurred around the world could shed some light on its validity relative to just a different way of conceptualizing being transgender.

Jan. 11 2015 05:34 PM

I agree with the gender researchers opinion - this person is just using a different coping method. First problem, after leaving the Navy, they moved to California, oops! Of course the marriage ended, he hid some extremely serious mental issues from the person he was supposed to be closest to, I'm surprised she stuck around as long as she did. I thought I was being open minded by not turning this off immediately, but now I just feel gross - that's enough "gender issues" for a few years.

Jan. 11 2015 04:00 PM
Jessie Henshaw from United States

I could show you how to find many more types of hidden 'living' organizations that greatly influence our lives, but remain quite "hidden from view" or "hidden in sight". Many are hidden by our conceptual blind spots, many are hidden by our ignorance, many are hidden by our lack of education....

The ***BIG*** one of course are those hidden from our view by the presumption of science that nature doesn't contain any systems that we couldn't reconstruct from the information we could collect. That eliminates all the systems that naturally develop their designs internally. The actual vast majority of forms of organization we can confirm are are like that, and actually organized in a way quite hidden from view as a result!

How you learn about that hidden world of natural systems is learning their "pattern language" One place is http://debategraph.org/Details.aspx?nid=365553

Jan. 11 2015 07:42 AM
Jessie Henshaw from United States

I could show you how to find many more types of hidden 'living' organizations that greatly influence our lives, but remain quite "hidden from view" or "hidden in sight". Many are hidden by our conceptual blind spots, many are hidden by our ignorance, many are hidden by our lack of education....

The ***BIG*** one of course are those hidden from our view by the presumption of science that nature doesn't contain any systems that we couldn't reconstruct from the information we could collect. That eliminates all the systems that naturally develop their designs internally. The actual vast majority of forms of organization we can confirm are are like that, and actually organized in a way quite hidden from view as a result!

How you learn about that hidden world of natural systems is learning their "pattern language" One place is http://debategraph.org/Details.aspx?nid=365553

Jan. 11 2015 07:38 AM
Sayingdoesntmakeitso from NY

Love Radiolab, not a fan of this particular podcast.

Can we at least come up with a pronoun that isn't "her" in description of someone who is not female? It's just flat out scientifically incorrect, no matter how much those involved wish otherwise.

Jan. 11 2015 01:32 AM
tunie from Hawaii

Anyone even vaguely interesting in this must see the 2014 movie, Predestination. It is all about this in a really interesting way. I must offer a warning however, the movie has a lot of dramatic grit, pain and violence, but if you can look past that to the story - it's a pretty interesting take on all this.

Jan. 11 2015 12:57 AM
Bear Causseaux from Texas

I am a huge Radiolab fan, I even went to the live show.

However, this episode is pretty terrible. I know this isn't a Radiolab episode, but a cross promotion for a new podcast. However, you guys decided to attach your name and brand to it, so you guys get the response.

Fuzzy science focused on one case of sexual identity problems is a poor subject for the Radiolab audience.

I have come to view Radiolab as a science based channel that approches subjects through the lens of skepticism. Your episodes always try to tell all sides of a subject and thoughtfully produce an informative and entertaing final product. This is why I love Radiolab.

This episode was nothing but two women who were wowed and amazed by one psych case. They then went on to try and provide evidence that only supported their amazed view. It was really just cheerleader drivel.

I will continue to be a huge Radiolab supporter and will give this new show another shot.

In the future Radiolab should be more selective of who they attach themselves to.

Written by an ER nurse with 15 years experience with one year left to complete a Master of science as a nurse practitioner, so I see a lot of these kind of psych cases. Perhaps that is why I was less amazed by this story. Just trying to give both sides.

Jan. 10 2015 09:17 PM
Mike Henke from United States

Stupid. Very disappointed.

Jan. 10 2015 03:23 PM
BoazC

Finished the show last night. The commercial is so accurate... it feels exactly like the middle of RadioLab and This American Life. I think in overall the show works but needs fine tuning like any other new show. I enjoy the concept and the first episode's topic, but it does feel like the show leans towards telling the story but doesn't have enough details to support the science it introduced (the show convinced me the method 2 is better than method 1 but didn't convince me method 3 is better than method 2). But well I'm more a RadioLab fan than TAL and people commenting here in radialab.org would probably be a similar group. Maybe the TAL fans would say the opposite.

Overall good start of a show and I look forward to see the show grow to its potential!

Jan. 10 2015 10:20 AM
Mariel A. from University of Virginia

Though I support any podcast that explores gender diversity, I'm disappointed by this one's reliance on frail psychology.

Here are the two issues:

1. Findings of the preliminary study, which stated that more gender-flippers are ambidextrous compared to the average population, were presented manipulatively. Disproportionate ambidexterity within a sample of 12? C'mon. Seemed like an insignificant finding presented in order to communicate a metaphor for "Ambigender." Makes for poor scientific journalism.

2. The section describing how genderflippers performed differently on tests depending on whether they felt M/F was irresponsibly under-explained. Performance on such tests is extremely affected by stereotype threat.

Stereotype threat is basically when people's performance on a task is affected by being aware of stereotypes regarding their group's [their race, age, or GENDER] stereotypical performance on that task. Why does this matter?

Well, throughout the podcast the individual interviewed displayed an extremely gendered understanding of human qualities, such as talkativeness and emotional intensity. They also displayed extreme self-consciousness of their own gender at any moment, during any task. This would lead them, as well as others with reversible gender, to be especially susceptible to stereotype threat.

So of course these bi-gendered people's performance on tests examining spatial/linguistic abilities would differ depending on whether they felt M/F! They unconsciously or consciously altered their behavior to align with stereotypes befitting the gender to which they subscribe. But the producers presented the results of such tests as though bi-gendered folks gender-affected test performances prove that their mental capabilities fundamentally change depending on whether they feel male or female.

By underexplaining possible variables affecting test performance in these bi-gendered, self-conscious, stereotyping individuals, the producers supported widely held, empirically false beliefs that significant differences exist between male and female intellectual capabilities due to NEURAL (as opposed to SOCIOCULTURAL/STEREOTYPICAL) pressures.

...laaaaaaaame.

[tl ; dr] Superficial and manipulative psychological science ruined this piece for me.

xoxo, a scientist... who's feeling female (at the moment)

Jan. 10 2015 12:39 AM
Rani Molla

interesting! Link to Invisibalia doesn't work

Jan. 09 2015 11:02 PM

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