TOBIN: When you were a kid, did you ever play dress up?
KATHY: No. [TOBIN LAUGHS] I hated dress-up.
KATHY: I hate costumes. I hate having clothes that aren’t used for daily wear.
TOBIN: Wait, so, like, what did you do at Halloween-time? Like, did you just not go as anything?
KATHY: Kid Kathy also hated Halloween. [TOBIN CHUCKLES] One year I did dress-up. I wore my karate uniform because I was in karate for about two months.
TOBIN: I love how meta that is. You went not as someone who does karate, but as Kathy wearing her karate uniform because she hates Halloween. [BOTH LAUGH]
[THEME MUSIC STARTS]
VOX 1: From WNYC Studios, you’re listening to “Nancy.”
VOX 2: With your hosts, Tobin Low and Kathy Tu.
[THEME MUSIC ENDS]
TOBIN: You know what’s really weird about being a podcast host?
TOBIN: Having to listen to recordings of your own damn voice.
KATHY: Oh, yeah! That is terrifying and horrible.
TOBIN: It’s so weird, right?
KATHY: Very weird.
TOBIN: Like, in our job, we have to edit a bunch of tape for the show and that means, like, hours and hours and hours of hearing ourselves.
[CLIP FROM AN OLD EPISODE, WITH INTROSPECTIVE BACKGROUND MUSIC, STARTS]
PAST TOBIN: Jason remembers this as the moment both he and his dad realized he might be gay.
TOBIN: But it's led to, like, a little bit of a discovery. Like, I’ve started to hear something about my voice.
PAST TOBIN: What would you say is the most important thing to you in the world?
TOBIN: Something no one else but me might notice.
PAST TOBIN: It was crazy to me, because when I was getting ready for this conversation … [OTHER AUDIO CLIPS QUIETLY LAYER ON]
TOBIN: I think that I force my voice down.
KATHY: Like, you lower it?
TOBIN: Exactly, like, I lower it.
KATHY: But why?
TOBIN: Well, I have a theory: it goes back to this very specific memory from middle school of this time when I overheard someone say that I talked like a girl. And I remember feeling like, “Ah! Message received. Sounding feminine is really, really bad if you’re a boy.” So, I think from then on I started forcing my voice down to sound more masculine.
KATHY: Yeah, I can see that.
TOBIN: Yeah! And, honestly, I do feel like I have proof that I’m doing something weird with my voice, because, like, sometimes I get to the end of the day and my throat is sore, or I’ve lost my voice. So it feels like I’m doing something my body doesn’t naturally like. But all of this is just a theory. So, recently, I decided to test out my theory.
DR. BLOCK: Long, slow, deep breath first. When you're all full of air, that's when you start. [SUSTAINS “AHH” SOUND] Medium, easy, straight pitch. Let's see how long you could say “Ahh.”
TOBIN: Okay. [SUSTAINS “AHH” SOUND]
TOBIN: [TOBIN’S “AHH” CONTINUES UNDERNEATH] So what you're hearing is me at the offices of Dr. Christy Block. She's a speech pathologist, and in her practice, she works with people on how they use their voices. She also focuses a lot on trans folks who want to work on how they speak.
[PAUSE, TOBIN CONTINUES TO SAY “AHH”]
TOBIN: At the moment, she's recording me so that this special software can show her where the pitch of my voice sits.
[TOBIN STOPS SAYING “AHH”]
DR. BLOCK: Good! 30 seconds. Whoo!
TOBIN: She also asks me a couple questions about my medical history.
DR. BLOCK: Have you been diagnosed with reflux, or with allergies?
TOBIN: Sort of self-diagnosed, I guess —
DR. BLOCK: Uh-huh.
TOBIN: — for reflux. Definitely. [PAUSE] When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act as a prism …
TOBIN: I read some sentences into the mic.
[TOBIN SAYS “AHH,” STARTING WITH A LOW PITCH AND ENDING HIGH]
TOBIN: I made a bunch of noises …
[TOBIN SAYS “AHH,” STARTING WITH A HIGH PITCH AND ENDING LOW]
TOBIN: … answered more questions about how I use my voice.
DR. BLOCK: Pets?
DR. BLOCK: Talk funny to the cat?
TOBIN: All the time.
DR. BLOCK: Let's hear it.
TOBIN: [WITH A BABYING VOICE] Hi, Grete. You’re the cutest little baby Grete.
DR. BLOCK: Yeah! [ALSO WITH A BABYING VOICE] Hi, Grete.
TOBIN: [WITH A BABYING VOICE] Grete.
DR. BLOCK [LAUGHING]: Nice.
TOBIN: I guess — I’m curious, uh, if there's such thing as each person having a core fundamental voice that they can find that, like — where their body is supposed to sit, or where their voice is supposed to sit. And if I’m way below where I'm quote-unquote supposed to be. Is that such a thing, like, a fundamental voice?
DR. BLOCK: In — in voice — in the voice field, people used to talk about optimal pitch. These days, it's really not something, umm … many of us subscribe to. For me, I usually just operate from what feels good and sounds good for you. And you're telling me it doesn't feel good.
[MOTIVATING INSTRUMENTAL AND CHORAL MUSIC STARTS]
TOBIN: Eventually, Dr. Block pulls the results from the tests. And she gets out this chart that shows the different registers where people speak. Up at the top is the highest voices, and down at the bottom the lowest. And there’s a bunch of shaded regions that show where different groups of people tend to speak. Towards the top is a shaded area for cis women’s voices and down at the bottom, cis men’s voices. That’s the area she points to for my voice.
[MUSIC ENDS WITH A CHORAL “WOAH”]
DR. BLOCK: Yeah.
TOBIN: And I was at kind of the bottom of that block.
DR. BLOCK: Exactly. Which I think does not serve your vocal health very well. And this is why you are having the fatigue and the hoarseness. I think you're forcing it down. I think you could move your pitch around more when you talk …
TOBIN: Dr. Block says I basically become very good at faking it in my lower register. She says that, for most people, when they make themselves speak lower they end up sounding kind of monotone. How are you? I am speaking very deeply. But Dr. Block says I've managed to find a way to force my voice down while also having some ups and downs. It makes it sound more natural. I mean, I've had years of practice, so that makes sense to me.
DR. BLOCK: So I want you to count to 10 in your rake — in your habitual voice.
TOBIN: Okay, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
DR. BLOCK: Good. Now, I want you to do it a little higher.
TOBIN: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten.
DR. BLOCK: What did that seem like to you?
TOBIN: The higher pitch feels more vulnerable.
DR. BLOCK: Mmm. [CURIOUS] Tell me more about vulnerable. [BOTH LAUGH] Do you mean physically or how you're being viewed?
TOBIN: How I’m being viewed. I think it does sort of touch on “Oh no, we're going up into the unsafe zone!”
DR. BLOCK: Mm-hmm.
TOBIN: Like, down here feels like the safe, “I’m” — you know — “I'm an adult human” kind of voice.
DR. BLOCK: Yeah.
TOBIN: And then going up feels a little more present and a little bit more calling attention to itself.
DR. BLOCK: Uh-huh. Yeah. And I think …
KATHY: Tobin, as an audio professional —
KATHY: — I have to admit, I don't really hear a huge difference between your lower and higher voices.
TOBIN: Yes, yeah. It is definitely very subtle. Like, the difference between where I talk now and where Dr. Block thinks I should be — it’s, it’s, like, so slight. But, I wanna say a couple things: First of all, I just feel vindicated that I had a theory [KATHY LAUGHS] and a real-ass professional told me I was right!
KATHY [LAUGHING]: Good for you, Tobin.
TOBIN: Also, though, it kind of hit me that it sucks I was right. Y’know, like, teenage Tobin who was so afraid of being perceived as feminine in any way decided to try and speak differently. And now adult Tobin still carries that shit around.
KATHY: I mean, I know what that’s like. When I was younger, teenage Kathy was afraid of having short hair because I was always told that I had to be “feminine,” [TOBIN HUMS IN AGREEMENT] and short hair was “masculine” or — or “butch,” or, like, what boys do.
KATHY: So I just kept it long for a very long time. And then as an adult, I had to face that fear.
TOBIN: Mhm, mhm, and then you chopped off all your hair!
KATHY: I did! And you and I, now, have the same haircut. [TOBIN LAUGHS] It’s … not quite the same.
TOBIN: Right, right.
KATHY: It’s close.
TOBIN: Yes! So, anyway, thinking about my voice stuff, it sort of opened up this can of worms because it makes me think about, like, you know, the rules of gender expression and how boys can only do this, or girls can only do this. Like, for example, you know that I’ve been really into painting my nails recently…
KATHY: You’ve been really great at choosing all these great colors.
TOBIN: Mhm, mhm. And that’s something I hadn’t even considered as an option for myself for a long time because I thought of it as a feminine thing. And now I’m wondering, how much of everything: like, how I dress, how I carry myself — how much of that stuff has been driven by not wanting to be read as anything but masculine? And how do I even begin to figure that out?
[ECHOEY DRUMBEAT STARTS]
TOBIN: As I’ve been thinking about all of these questions, I’ve been reading this book called Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story. It’s by writer and activist and self-identified trans weirdo Jacob Tobia. And there was this one story from the book that really stuck out to me. It takes place when Jacob was six years old, and shopping for Halloween costumes with their mom. Jacob’s mom asks them which costume they want, and they answer they’d like to be their favorite character from a movie, who happens to be a woman.
JACOB: The silence was deafening. [PAUSE] You know when you tell someone you're in love with them and within 2 nanoseconds before they can even utter a word, you know they don't reciprocate? This was like that. I knew from the moment the words left my lips that it wasn't going to happen. My mom paused and let out a deep sigh as her gears turned. How could she explain to me what I needed to know? How could you tell me what I needed to hear?
[DRUMBEAT ENDS; SHIMMERING, DREAMLIKE BACKGROUND MUSIC ENTERS]
JACOB: If we'd grown up in a different world, in a more perfect universe, in an alternate less racist less misogynistic reality, perhaps that would have been the moment when she would pause, collect her thoughts, and cautiously say what needed to be said. “I know you are more feminine than the other boys. I know you love dresses and flowers and playing with your grandmother's jewelry, and I love that about you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with who you are and I will support you no matter what [PAUSE] but I also want to help you understand the world you're growing up in. You are growing up in a world where many people — your brother, your father, your classmates, your peers, random strangers on the street, you name it — are going to be hostile toward you because of your femininity. People are going to spend most of your life making you feel less-than.
JACOB: Knowing that, I want to help you make an informed decision. Would you rather go as a more socially acceptable costume like a pumpkin or some equally stupid vegetable, thereby avoiding the torment of your peers, or are you ready to put on a dress and bravely face the world? Whatever you choose, I will support you and love you and hug you when it feels like too much. Okay?” But in our universe, instead of saying all that, she simply turned to me with a quiet look of concern and sheepishly asked, “What about going as a boy character from the movie?”
[QUIET HARP FLOURISH]
TOBIN: You know, you talk about these small moments where your — the world, and in this case your mom, just sort of subtly signals to you, um, “How you express gender, how you express your identity is not what I want.” Um, and, I wonder how that felt, especially coming from your mom.
JACOB: Well, I — I think I wouldn't characterize it as her saying, “How you express yourself is not what I want.” Because, you know, from my mom this whole journey has been incredibly painful and not because she has loathed anything about me.
JACOB: Um, it’s only been painful because she's looked at me, saw who I just so organically was, so effervescently was, and realized that that meant the world was going to be cruel and inhumane to her child. No parent of a queer or trans child should have to worry about whether or not their kid is performing their gender properly, because we shouldn't live in a world where there's such a thing as a proper gender to perform.
TOBIN: When you started having moments like this, where it seemed like people were noticing or having a problem with you expressing your gender identity, how did you deal with it?
JACOB: So, like, being a theater kid really helped because … [TOBINS HUMS IN UNDERSTANDING] So, like, for example, in my freshman year of high school, I played the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.
JACOB: And everyone was like, “Oh my God, you're such a talented actor.” And I was just like, “Yes, acting, correct.” [BOTH LAUGH] And really it was just the excuse I needed to queen out, you know?
TOBIN: Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
JACOB: Yeah, like, because the Mad Hatter’s, like, oh my God! Such a lovely gay character.
TOBIN: It makes me personally a little sad to hear you talk about that, just because I feel like if there's a moment where the world comes in and tells you, like, however much you express femme-ness is not okay with us, I looked at that crossroads and suppressed — and, you know, like, didn't find those outlets. And so now, I’m, like, really left questioning, like, what parts of myself have I totally, like, shoved down? Yeah. I don't know. That's just like — [TOBIN LAUGHS, A LITTLE NERVOUSLY]
JACOB: Oh, Tobin. But yeah, I mean, I think this — this journey of reconnecting [PAUSE] with our femininity and reconnecting with our gender for everybody … Honestly, my new dream is, just, I want Netflix to call me —
JACOB: — and I want to do, um … “Tidying Up Your Gender” with Jacob Tobia.
TOBIN: Oh my god, I'm obsessed. [TOBIN LAUGHS]
JACOB: And I’m just — I'm just the Marie Kondo of gender and I just go around being like, “But does it spark joy for you?” And then it's a makeover show, but it's not about, like, [WITH AN EXTRAVAGANT VOICE] “Make you look sexy!” It's about what — we’re going to actually do the work to think about what brings you joy in your gender. And we're going to hold that necklace to our chest and think, “Does this bring me joy?” We're going to hang our wrists limply and think, “Does this bring me joy?” We're gonna, like, swish our hips a little and think, “Does that bring me joy?”
JACOB: And we all need to figure out what sparks joy and stop thinking about all the other bullshit. You know, hold the thing to your chest. And if you don't feel joy in it, let it go. And if you feel joy in it, keep it and protect it fiercely, and thank it.
[DANCEY MUSIC STARTS]
TOBIN: [SIGHS] That was so freeing, everything that you just said is so freeing.
JACOB: I'm just trying to have fun, you know, and the patriarchy really gets me down, and the gender binary kind of gets in the way of me dancing.
KATHY: I would definitely watch a show starring Jacob.
TOBIN: I know, right? I would watch the hell out of that show.
TOBIN: Anyway, talking to Jacob, I’m realizing that the stuff I’ve been thinking about — like, with my voice, and painting my nails — it’s all sort of “Level One” of me trying to leave behind some of that gender baggage and, like, actually figure out what brings me joy. So! Coming up, I’m going to let myself do something that I used to really like. Something I haven’t let myself do since I was four years old.
[DANCEY MUSIC ENDS]
[INTERLUDE THEME MUSIC PLAYS]
JEREMY: If there were no rules at all, and you could wear anything you want, what would you wear?
VOX 1: What I’m wearing right now.
VOX 2: The first thing that comes to mind is cowboy boots! [LAUGHS] Red cowboy boots.
VOX 3: I’m just, like, at this cross-section of rejecting vanity and consumerism, so, a black T-shirt and black jeans, which is — happens to be what I’m wearing.
VOX 4: I would wear a slip nightgown every day.
VOX 3: That is the only thing that I think that, uh, other people don’t look at and project things onto me. They can only see who I am on the inside by talking to me.
VOX 5: I’d probably ignore all the trends and wear mismatched, just because it’s easier.
VOX 6: [LAUGHING] I’d wear my birthday suit every day!
VOX 7: “Nancy” will be back in a minute.
TOBIN: And we're back.
KATHY: So Tobin, you did this big ol’ cliff-hanger about this thing you’re going to try.
KATHY: Now I wanna know — what is it?
TOBIN: Well, okay, so back when I was little, four-year-old Tobin loved playing dress up. And the preschool I went to had this bin of costumes we could use, and I had a favorite outfit. It was this purple dress and, most importantly, a pair of high heels. They were definitely like, a little one-inch kitten heel, and way too big for my feet, but I fucking loved them. [KATHY CHUCKLES] And, y’know, I don’t remember anyone minding that I was wearing a dress and heels back then, but I have also never worn a heel since. So, a couple weekends ago, I made my way out to a warehouse in Brooklyn.
HENRY: Well, welcome to our dungeon.
SHAOBO: I wouldn’t say a dungeon. Excuse me.
HENRY: There's no windows.
SHAOBO: [HENRY LAUGHS] Okay! Stop. Stop it. Picture it — it's Brooklyn, it's Bushwick. It's DIY. It's street. It's punk. It's underground. Not literally, figuratively.
HENRY: And then we have high heels in larger sizes. Sprinkled everywhere.
TOBIN: This is Henry Bae and Shoabo Han. Together they run this company called Syro Shoes. As Shaobo describes it:
SHAOBO: We create fab heels in large sizes for all genders.
TOBIN: Do you remember the first pair of heels that you ever wore and could you describe them to me?
HENRY: My first pair of heels, um, were these pink glitter women's size 12 Jeffrey Campbell shoes. Purchased it and I wear them all day for Portland Pride. And towards the end of the day, or more towards the middle I suppose, I was just shocked and gobsmacked that women go through this pain. It was unbelievable.
SHAOBO: The first pair of heels I ever worn was actually my mother's. They were lime green. They were sandals with a stiletto. And I actually broke them. The heel went like [MAKES “CRACK” NOISE] and I freaked out because now these pairs were ruined so I kind of put them back on into her closet.
HENRY: Oh my god, you wouldn’t!
SHAOBO: And we never talked about it again. I’m pretty sure she tossed it. She probably thought she — she threw she ruined them. [HENRY LAUGHS]
TOBIN: What was it about heels that felt like it attracted you and felt like it was something that you were curious about trying?
HENRY: I don't understand why, but I — when I saw my mom's heels, I just knew that I wanted to be in those. And I remember watching my feet morph, from when I was young they would fit and they were too large, and I watched my feet become slowly too large to fit into her shoes. Like, they used to be ginormous.
HENRY: And then as the years went by I was like, “Oh my God, I only have a couple years left before, like, I can't fit into these. What am I going to do?”
SHAOBO: Did she ever catch you?
HENRY: No, I was never caught. Not once.
SHAOBO: Same. So sneaky!
HENRY: Bad boys. Bad boys!
SHAOBO: But there’s — there's — there’s something to be said about the fact that we knew what we were doing was not okay…
HENRY: Abnormal, or something.
SHAOBO: Yeah, that we had to hide it from her.
TOBIN: Henry and Shaobo both say that how they dress and how they appear to the world are important in how they express their gender.
SHAOBO: Joy and happiness and authenticity is so important that I have to visually display it. There's no way I could hide who I am.
TOBIN: Do you ever deal with street harassment when you're wearing heels?
SHAOBO: Yeah, [DEEP EXHALE] that's like three hours of conversations. Yeah.
HENRY: There's definitely harassment. That's definitely straight men that will [PAUSE] be really aggressive. Usually when they're drunk. I mean, I have to say I'm very aware of the fact that if I go out on the street looking a certain way that I'm intentionally — as well, as much as I am living my fantasy and enjoying my outfit, I am also intentionally terrorizing gender. And I accept that and I embrace that. So they go hand-in-hand. My existence is a terror to gender.
TOBIN: How does wearing heels inform your identity?
HENRY: Oh my god. It's just … the sound that it makes when you walk on the concrete [SHAOBO SIGHS], just the way that your ass has to like swoosh. I don't know.
SHAOBO: Yeah. The way your hips sway. It just feels — it feels great.
TOBIN: It sounds powerful.
SHAOBO: I feel powerful. Like, I've never felt this confident in who I am until I really embraced my femininity.
TOBIN: So, after talking for a while, surrounded by all these boxes of shoes, it was time!
TOBIN: Alright, let's try on some shoes.
SHAOBO: Oh my god!
HENRY: So the first and most important thing is, I need to know: what is your size?
TOBIN: Um, I am a 12, sometimes a 13.
HENRY: So we should do a 13.
TOBIN: Henry pulls out a pair of black leather ankle boots. They have a pointy toe and a three-inch chunky heel. They have other shoes that have louder prints and higher heels, but Henry tells me that the pair I have on are intentionally designed to be a little bit subtle. He says it helps prevent street harassment, because if you were walking by someone it might take them a second to realize you were wearing a heel at all. So, in effect, he’s giving me their starter pair.
TOBIN: Oh my god!
HENRY: Like, a little skinny, like YSL, kind of, you’re a rock boy or rock them.
TOBIN: And is it just this mirror? Does it, like — do heels make your legs look skinnier.
SHAOBO: They do!
HENRY: They do! It's you. It's not that janky mirror that we found on the street. It's your legs.
TOBIN: As I'm looking at myself in the mirror I can feel teenage Tobin inside of me saying, “This is a lot.” But adult Tobin is thinking,
TOBIN: I think I'm gonna buy these, y'all.
SHAOBO: Ooh! That’s a sale. Ca-ching!
[TIME TRAVEL MUSIC STARTS AND ENDS]
KATHY: Alright. So, Tobin, we are in the studio. It’s the end of the workday —
KATHY: — but not just any work day, because today, you wore your heels!
TOBIN: I did!
KATHY: Tell me all about it! Start from this morning. How did you feel putting them on?
TOBIN: Number one: super nervous.
[WAKE-UP MUSIC PLAYS, CUTTING OUT EACH TIME TOBIN NARRATES OUTSIDE THE RECORDING]
TOBIN: All right. Getting dressed for work and the final touch is these beautiful high-heeled boots.
TOBIN: But also, very excited because I planned what I felt was like a very good outfit for the heels.
TOBIN: This is a good look. Wearing a yellow sweater, black jeans over these black boots. [PAUSE] I am three to four inches taller than I normally am.
[DOOR OPENS, RAIN NOISE]
TOBIN: Yeah, it's really raining. Great.
TOBIN: Also, fun fact — I have about a mile walk between where I live and the subway.
KATHY: That is so far.
TOBIN: It's like half a block. I'm already in so much pain. Why!?
TOBIN: And I would say like when I first started walking, I felt all the things of, like, being very square and very awkward.
TOBIN [EMPHASIZING EACH WORD]: One. Step. At. A. Time. Here we go.
TOBIN: And I had to sort of be like, “No, own it!”
TOBIN: I’m just gonna play — in my mind — Lizzo’s “Juice.” That's going to get me the rest of the way there.
[“JUICE” BY LIZZO PLAYS]
TOBIN: Like, imagine yourself being tall, like, loosening your hips and really strutting.
[THE CHORUS PLAYS, THEN THE SONG FADES OUT]
KATHY: How did you feel wearing them out?
TOBIN: I would say I got some looks, both good and suspicious. Some people seemed really into it. Other people were like, “This is someone I wouldn't expect to be wearing heels.” Like, you know, there was clearly some jerking back of the head.
TOBIN: And, I have to acknowledge, like, I was really lucky that I didn’t get any harassment. The only person to talk to me was this woman who saw me in the subway stop and was like, “Are those comfortable?”
[SUBWAY TURNSTILE BEEPS]
TOBIN: No! It’s my first day wearing them, too. I'm dying.
WOMAN: I hope you brought something [PAUSE] to change into.
TOBIN: I do. I brought a first set of shoes.
WOMAN: You should travel in the spare set.
TOBIN: She was like, “You shouldn't wear them on your commute. Just wear other comfortable shoes for your commute and change into the heels at work.”
WOMAN: Trust me. Um, but you …
TOBIN: She was, like, giving me tips. [KATHY LAUGHS]
KATHY: She's been there.
TOBIN: Yeah. So, anyway, when I got to the office, I decided to do, like, a little walk around and show them off. And, you know, we work in super friendly, open-minded public radio [LAUGHS] in New York City, so I wasn’t expecting, like, a bad reaction. But I was curious if seeing me in the shoes would bring up anything for anyone else. So, for example, I broke into a meeting that our boss Paula was having with our co-worker Joanna.
TOBIN: I'm wearing my heels today.
KATHY: Wait, is this when Paula screamed?
PAULA [LAUGHING]: Wait! how do they feel?
TOBIN: I'm in a lot of pain.
JOANNA: Tobin — if I can be totally honest with you, though … Tobin rolled in this morning, I hear him go, “Jesus fucking Christ.” I think, “What’s wrong? What new horror show has hit our country?” and then Tobin lifts up his foot, shows me his heels, and said, “I walked a mile to the train in these.” And I thought, “Ugh, amateur hour over here!” [TOBIN LAUGHS]
TOBIN: [BEING GOOFY] So, you know, another little read for me acting like a hero. And then I went upstairs to the area where all the “Radiolab” people sit. And I ran into another producer there, Matt Kielty, and Matt started telling me how when he was a kid he also used to play dress up in heels.
MATT: Yeah, I would put my mom's shoes on — or, me and my cousins once did a fashion show for our family up north, [INHALES] came down the stairs in heels. It's tricky.
TOBIN: And why do you think you stopped wearing heels?
MATT: Uhh … My assumption is, I began to just wear what are relatively masculine shoes and footwear.
TOBIN: Do you want to try these on?
MATT: Oh, yeah. Sure. That's great. [TOBIN LAUGHS]
[TROPICAL MUSIC FLOURISH]
TOBIN: So I had him put on the heels.
TOBIN: How does it feel?
MATT: It feels very awkward.
MATT: Like, there's nothing —there’s feel — there’s nothing graceful or natural about it, nor sexy.
TOBIN: So you want to release the hips, maybe more than you would. So let them sway.
MATT: So with, like, each step you, like — Oh! Well, that's actually making a difference. Okay, that’s tip one. Are there other tips?
TOBIN: You can try to…
KATHY: Look at you! The student becoming the teacher!
TOBIN: I know, right?
KATHY: So, like, do you plan on wearing the heels every day?
TOBIN: Uh, no. Not every day. I’m, like, Level One, so, like — like, right now, I have a cramp all up and down my right leg.
KATHY: Yeah, I feel that.
TOBIN: But! I will say, I love how they looked! And it was cool to wear them and be like, “Nobody died,” y’know? [CHUCKLES]
TOBIN: So, like, I like, now, having the option of, depending on the day, “What makes me feel joyful?” Going more masculine or more feminine, it doesn’t have to be an either/or thing!
KATHY: A hundred percent.
[CREDITS-TYPE MUSIC PLAYS FOR A MOMENT, THEN STOPS SUDDENLY]
TOBIN: Um, also, Kath, before we wrap things up, I have a surprise for you.
KATHY [INHALING]: A surprise!
TOBIN: Dr. Block, the speech pathologist — she gave me vocal exercises to help raise my voice up. Uh, and I want us to do them together.
[GOOFY EXERCISE MUSIC PLAYS]
TOBIN: You ready?
KATHY: Absolutely not. No.
TOBIN: So the first thing is lip trills. [TOBIN DOES A LIP TRILL] Repeat after me. [TRILLS AGAIN]
KATHY: I refuse. [TOBIN TRILLS] I’d rather wear the heels. [TOBIN TRILLS AGAIN] I’ll do anything else.
[GOOFY EXERCISE MUSIC ENDS]
[CREDITS MUSIC STARTS]
TOBIN: Alright, it is credits time.
KATHY: Production fellow —
TOBIN: Temi Fagbenle.
KATHY: Editor —
TOBIN: Stephanie Joyce.
KATHY: Sound designer —
TOBIN: Jeremy Bloom.
KATHY: Executive Producer —
TOBIN: Paula Szuchman.
KATHY: I’m Kathy Tu.
TOBIN: And I’m Tobin Low.
KATHY: And “Nancy” is a production of WNYC Studios.
[CREDITS MUSIC ENDS]
HENRY: These big celebrities email us, being like, “Hey, we’d love to, like, get a free pair!”
TOBIN: Wait, if I name a name, and it’s one of the people, will you tell me that I get it right? [NAME IS BEEPED OUT, TOBIN GASPS, SHAOBO LAUGHS]
SHAOBO: Well, well, well, well.
HENRY: I’m dead and a half. What? Bam.