Episode 36

Published on:

13th Aug 2021

36 - Talking Testosterone with Carole Hooven

Carole Hooven, Ph.D., is lecturer and co-director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She earned her Ph.D. at Harvard, studying sex differences and testosterone, and has taught there ever since. Hooven has received numerous teaching awards, and her popular Hormones and Behavior class was named one of the Harvard Crimson’s “top ten tried-and-true.”

In this episode, Stella and Sasha talk to Carole about her new book, Testosterone, which explores the powerful impact this sex hormone has on the human body. This discussion revolves around a central theme: to make the world a better place, we must be willing to understand the harsh realities of our mammalian nature and take into account the biological drives behind our behavior.


Carole Hooven:

Twitter: twitter.com/hoovlet?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor 


Carole’s Book: us.macmillan.com/books/9781250236067

Carole’s Link Tree: linktr.ee/CaroleHooven


Stella’s Review: www.standard.co.uk/culture/books/testosteronedr-carole-hooven-review-b941337.html  


Katie Herzog’s piece in Barri Weiss’s substack:  



Extended Notes

  • A little bit about Carole and her experience.
  • Carole talks about her book, T: The Story of Testosterone, The Hormone That Dominates and Divides Us.
  • When Carole was in Uganda studying chimps, she always knew that if she was working with only females, her day would be pretty relaxed. It’s when the males came to play, however, that she had a full day on her hands.
  • Carole witnessed a male chimp viciously and brutally beat a female chimp who wanted nothing more than to protect her child. It was shocking to watch.
  • Carole breaks down the importance of testosterone and estrogen in our bodies.
  • Males resolve conflict much more quickly than females. There is a reason why there is a hierarchy and it benefits the entire pack to know who’s who.
  • What did Carole discover when she interviewed a wide variety of people going through testosterone procedures?
  • Carole found some fascinating things. People who were living as biological women and hated being objectified, now transitioned into men, found themselves having urges to objectify women.
  • Our nurture can be significantly modeled. The power of our environment can shape our nature.
  • What is CAH and why do women who have this tend to have more male-oriented positions?
  • Just witness how boys vs. girls play with one another. There is a reason for this act in play between the sexes. This crosses all cultures and is even witnessed in animals.
  • Carole shares her insights about gay men and their sexual patterns.
  • Knowledge is power. Carole is passionate about this because it’s important to know how we work on a biological level. We think if we can solve the patriarchy, sexual assault will go away, but there’s something much deeper to this.
  • Carole tried to clarify the importance of scientific language and why it’s important that we’re accurate in our languaging. Someone within Carole’s department thought this was transphobic.
  • Just because people are pushing back on what languaging Carole chooses to use, we cannot deny that biology is still biology.
  • We cannot pretend that the hormones we use have no real impact and that they’re interchangeable. They’re not. We have them for a reason.

This podcast is partially sponsored by ReIME, Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics:


Learn more about our show: Linktr.ee/WiderLensPod

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About the Podcast

Gender: A Wider Lens Podcast
Two therapists explore the expanding concept of "gender" from a psychological depth perspective.
Gender dysphoria has become a minefield for public discussion, with many afraid to express their views or question the narrative. Our mission is to examine this important and complex topic from a range of perspectives, but always through a psychological lens. By openly considering and examining gender identity, transition, and the transgender umbrella, we hope to give all interested parties permission to engage these fascinating topics with less fear and more honesty. Interviews and discussions will involve clinicians, medical professionals, academics, transgender people, parents, detransitioners and other interesting individuals whose lives have been touched by the concept of gender.

Conversations between two practicing therapists give listeners an opportunity to contemplate gender from a depth perspective not currently taken up in most of today’s accessible debates. As a result of their work with gender dysphoric therapy clients as well as their personal divergent experiences with gender, Stella and Sasha hold a refreshing and informed perspective.

Is gender identity a facilitation of development and expression of creativity, or can it be a defense against painful existential realities of living in a human body? What can we discover about masculinity, femininity, identity, gender performance, and sexuality when we peer beneath the surface and dive into a deeper psychological exploration? What is the relationship between body, mind, identity, culture, and psyche?

This podcast engages listeners in an intimate and fascinating behind-the-scenes inquiry about a topic as taboo as it is salient today.

* We are sponsored by ReIME and Genspect.
Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics (ReIME) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving long term care for gender variant individuals. To learn more, visit https://rethinkime.org/

Genspect is an international alliance of parent and professional groups whose aim is to advocate for parents of gender-questioning children and young people. Parents are concerned that their kids are not receiving appropriate treatment and support; many do not feel free to speak out about their concerns.
To learn more, visit https://genspect.org/
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About your hosts

Stella O'Malley

Profile picture for Stella O'Malley
Stella O’Malley is a psychotherapist and author who works in private practice in Ireland. Her work focuses on parenting, family dynamics and working with teenagers.

Much of Stella’s counselling and writing focuses on mental health and the importance of well-being and she is a regular contributor to the media. She is also the resident psychotherapist for the current TV series, Raised by the Village, a family programme that helps troubled teenagers reconnect with themselves and their families.

Stella's first book, Cotton Wool Kids, was released in 2015 while Bully-Proof Kids: Practical tools to help kids grow up confident, resilient and strong was released in 2017. Stella’s latest book Fragile, was released in 2019 and focuses on overcoming anxiety and stress.

Stella was the presenter of the documentary Trans - Kids: It’s Time To Talk broadcast on Channel 4 in November 2018 and she contributed a chapter to the 2019 book, Inventing Transgender Children and Young People.

The Jungian analyst, Lisa Marchiano, and Stella launched Secrets of the Motherworld in September 2019, offering thoughtful exploration of the most intimate aspects of motherhood in a bid to help mothers feel less alone.

Stella is a Clinical Advisor for the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine and a founding member of the International Association of Therapists for Desisters and Detransitioners. She is also the lead facilitator for the Gender Dysphoria Support Network.

Stella holds a B.A. in Counselling and Psychotherapy and a M.A. in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Sasha Ayad

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Sasha Ayad is a Licensed Professional Counselor who works in private practice, and has treated adolescents for over 10 years. Her work focuses on teens and young adults struggling with issues of gender dysphoria and gender identity.

She became interested in the sharp rise in teenagers who declare a trans identity for the first time during adolescence. She discovered, through working with hundreds of families, that many teens were developing gender dysphoria only after adopting a transgender identity. She questions the practice of medical transition for children and teenagers, and her clinical work focuses on developmentally appropriate, least-invasive-first talk therapy.

Sasha is also a founding member and Clinical Advisor in the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine and a founding member of the International Association of Therapists for Desisters and Detransitioners.

Sasha’s previous work experience includes:
- School counselor for middle and high school students at a charter school for underserved communities

- Behavioral therapy with children on the autism spectrum

- Individual and group counseling for women and children impacted by domestic abuse and sexual violence

- Developed and ran the first counseling program at a large state supported living facility for adults with intellectual disability

Sasha holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology.