Girls in Podcasts: How to Be A Girl

Looking for something to listen to on your morning commute? Want to learn about girls over your lunch? There are loads of amazing podcasts out there about and by girls. Join us as we share some of our favorites in this series.

The podcast How To Be A Girl is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. If you’re scared of welling up in public, I wouldn’t recommend listening during the commute. Marlo Mack, a pseudonym, is the mother of a transgender daughter, who also blogs her story at Gender Mom. Marlo tells the story of how she’s raising her daughter, through a series of themes, scattered with some utterly adorable interviews with her daughter.

Perhaps Marlo is telling this story for herself, as a way to assess her thoughts by saying them aloud. But what comes out for the listeners is nothing short of beautiful. The mother is open, liberal, and highly self-aware. She is also highly self-aware of the doubts she has, the doubts of her daughter’s future, and the difficulty of being an adult transgender woman.

The first few episodes, technically speaking, are patchy. It is clearly evident in the first few episodes that it was not professionally produced. The sound bites are poor, the sound quality amateur. Yet, equally, the unprofessionalism of the first few episodes felt intentional. I doubt it was intentional, but it felt it. The amateur nature made the introduction episodes feel personal, they felt like listening to a friend over the phone, telling a friend what was happening to her and her soon-to-be daughter.

All of the episodes have a quality that is consuming, raw and honest. Yet, the episode that struck me most, when thinking about this podcast in relation to Girl Museum was episode four, entitled Tomboy Trans Girl. The description of the podcast episode reads: “How girlie do you have to be to secure your spot in the girl club?” It both explicitly and implicitly asks the question of what girlhood is. Is it biological, social, cultural, or all three? What girlhood is, of course, has varied enormously throughout history.

What transgender is, what it means and what it can mean to others is core to the story. But, ultimately, How To Be a Girl is about girlhood. How To Be a Girl is about relationships with parents, first days of school, which toys are the best toys, and which children are her best friends.

Girlhood is a tricky minefield to walk through, particularly if you happen to be a girl born with a boy’s body. But girlhood is also, primarily, a powerful and remarkable minefield to walk through, with the support of parents, teachers and friends who support them.

-Chloe Turner
Volunteer & Instagram Manager
Girl Museum Inc.

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