Who Do You Think You Are?

Listen 48:42


Scientist. Farmer. Feminist. Leader. Alpha male. Veteran. African-American. Hindu. Identity isn’t just about who we think we are — it’s about how others perceive us, and how we move through the world. It’s determined by our families and culture; our race and gender; our jobs, personalities, bodies, and minds. All of those things make up our personal narratives, defining who we are and how we deal with things. But identities aren’t always fixed. Sometimes, they can change, and even clash. On this episode, we explore stories of people wrestling with those changes. We hear about tough Australian farmers becoming more in tune with their feelings, how DNA testing is transforming who we think we are, and the challenges of dating while trans.

Also heard on this week’s episode:

  • When a DNA test revealed that Dani Shapiro wasn’t who she thought she was, it sent her on a search for her biological roots. That mission, documented in the memoir “Inheritance,” takes Shapiro deep into the strange and tangled world of early fertility medicine. We hear her story, and also chat with historian Margaret Marsh, who, together with OB-GYN Wanda Ronner, has written three books about fertility treatments. Their latest is called “The Pursuit of Parenthood.”
  • Dating’s tough enough — but transitioning gender can make it even harder. We explore some of those complications with Nava Mau, a trans woman and filmmaker, whose short film “Waking Hour” depicts the minefield trans people might encounter on a night out. Canadian researcher Karen Blair says that the dating pool for trans people appears small, but her data suggests attitudes could shift.
  • Elyn Saks is a law professor, best-selling author, and MacArthur “genius grant” recipient. She’s also someone who lives with schizophrenia. She talks about how she manages her symptoms, and why she firmly believes that mental illness need not define a person.
  • We talk with West Chester University professor Anita Foeman, who uses ancestry information to spark conversations in the classroom — and to push the boundaries of how we think about our own racial and ethnic identities.

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