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The Science Of Being Transgender

The Science Of Being Transgender

Update: 2018-12-1347


Recently we’ve been hearing a lot about transgender identity. That made us wonder… what makes us the gender that we are? And what should you do if your kid doesn’t fit the mold? To find out, we talked with endocrinologist Dr. Joshua Safer, psychologist Dr. Laura Edwards-Leeper, and psychologist Dr. Colt Keo-Meier.

Check out the transcript:

UPDATE 3/29/19 : An earlier version of this episode misinterpreted a study regarding the question of how many children who visited a gender identity clinic grow up to be trans. The episode has been updated accordingly. We've explained the change in detail in the transcript.

UPDATE 1/17/19: An earlier version of this episode implied that all people who are intersex are born with indeterminate genitalia. This is incorrect and the episode has been updated.

Selected references: 

A paper from the 70s about shock therapy A review of the science behind the trans kids debateBest Practice Standards of Care for Trans PeopleRebecca’s podcast Trans Specific PartnershipThanks to our sponsor, Cole Haan. You can hear more of Wendy and other Gimlet hosts in conversation at, produced in partnership with Cole Haan.


This episode was produced by Odelia Rubin and Meryl Horn along with Wendy Zukerman and Rose Rimler. Our senior producer is Kaitlyn Sawrey. We’re edited by Blythe Terrell. Editorial assistance by Rebecca Kling. Fact checking by Michelle Harris, Meryl Horn and Rose Rimler. Mix and sound design by Emma Munger. Music by Emma Munger and Bobby Lord.  

A huge thanks to all the researchers we got in touch with for this episode - including Dr. Jack Turban, Professor Anne Fausto- Sterling, assistant professor Samantha Busa, Associate Professor Susan Stryker, Dr. Katrina Karkazis, Professor Neill Epperson, Paula Neira, Professor Michelle Forcier, and Professor Joan Roughgarden. And thanks to all the trans folks who shared their stories with us. Thank you! Also thanks to the Zukerman Family and Joseph Lavelle Wilson. 

Comments (48)


I legitimately thought I'd learn something here, I thought I'd start listening to this podcast n made this my first episode but I started listening and just heard utter non-science. as a scientist I'm disappointed at the poor quality discussion this episode brought. I switched off half way n unsubscribed.

Feb 10th
Reply (2)

Ryan Fagan


Jan 2nd

D Smith

I like science. I like healthy debate. I like discussion. unfortunately this has turned into something other than science. would love to see actual sides presented instead of cherry picking arguments. calling bunk on claims because one person says it isn't happening isn't unbiased science. revisit this when an actual scientific discussion can happen. I too can gather echo chamber fanatics and present a side as the truth..... off to search for actual science discussions. Too bad. I was enjoying this channel for the most part.

Dec 21st

Jason Gregory

This is science. Gender, as with most things, is largely biological. This is fact snow flakes no matter what your fictional sky god books or the arrogant ignoramus Shapiro says.

Dec 20th
Reply (1)

Colby Gettling

This is not Science VS. Anymore. This is where my journey ends, mate.

Dec 19th

Jason Huntley

Officially no longer Science Vs. Now rebranded Liberal Agenda Vs. I find the lack of actual science and, at the least unbiased opinion, to be abhorrent. Where are the scientific journal references concerning transgender as a fad and that being a huge increase in the number of cases? What about the Brown University cover-up? And why was the statistic of suicides thrown in as an afterthought to cover their butts? Absolute Liberal garbage of an episode.

Dec 14th
Reply (39)
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The Science Of Being Transgender

The Science Of Being Transgender