Episode 10

10 - Queer Theory: Subverting Life's Categories

Published on: 12th February, 2021

Few people are aware of how much the political discussion around gender and sexuality has been touched by queer theory. This philosophy questions how we know what we know and turns hierarchies on their heads. Sasha and Stella explore the “smashing of binaries” in their therapeutic work and personal lives and discuss the positive and negative outcomes of taking queer theory thinking to its limits.


Extended Notes

  • Mother and father are no longer inclusive?
  • So much of our female oppression has been based upon our reproductive system.
  • Queer theory is a “slippery fish.” What is the definition of queer theory?
  • In any good democracy, there is a questioning of how we know what we know.
  • Ireland is objecting to all sorts of oppression. They know first-hand what it’s like.
  • How do you get through life if you have no idea what you know?
  • Stella’s daughter once asked: Who says being fat is unhealthy?
  • Queer theory will always be evolving.
  • If you can’t be a man, and if you can’t be a woman, then what are you?
  • Sasha shares some of her struggles as a woman and how she found her sexual orientation.
  • The development of a woman’s sexuality feels very understudied. People might scoff at this, but Stella explains further.
  • Not everything is due to a social construct.
  • Is gender a performance?
  • If there was a person by themselves on an island, would they really have a gender?
  • We are not walking gender identities, there is so much more to us.
  • You can’t use categories of behavior to try and assume someone’s sexuality or gender.
  • According to queer theory, gender is always political.
  • Do gender non-conforming children grow up to be gay or lesbian?
  • Queer theory believers say that you don’t need to have one drop of hormones to be classified as a valid man or woman. This adds complications to our society.
  • We shouldn’t sexualize children, but queer theory says, “Well, why not?”
  • Stella shares an example of how our literature is being “queered,” and why this is dangerous.
  • As a child, Stella used to walk past a graffitied wall that said, “Everything you know is wrong.”
  • We can’t just be “clever” for pushing boundaries, we also need to be wise.
  • How has queer theory impacted mental illness?
  • Why do we have to pretend that having a difference in our limbs is not unusual?

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.

Thank you to our sponsors:
Genspect - an international organization which offers an alternative to WPATH. Providing a range of education, resources and supports to anyone impacted by gender distress, Genspect unites many different organizations globally, and gives voice to 1,000s of previously untold stories. For more info, visit genspect.org.

GETA - an association of therapists who believe that individuals experiencing gender related concerns ought to be treated using a whole person approach. GETA connects like minded clinicians, provides educational resources and trainings, and helps people with gender dysphoria find support. For more info, visit genderexploratory.com.
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About your hosts

Stella O'Malley

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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.