Episode 102

102 — Dutch Journalists: Words Matter…The Media’s Influence to Share or to Silence

Published on: 17th February, 2023

The development of the Dutch protocol, and the research conducted from its practice, has become the basis for gender-related medical intervention in children all over the world; specifically, using drugs to block children's puberty and subsequently using cross-sex hormones and surgery to medicalize their 'transition.' The Dutch model has the reputation of being the “gold standard of care” for youth transgender medicine and is often cited when defending the use of puberty blockers and surgeries in minors and young adults. In many ways, it created the possibility of gender 'transition' in children.

On today’s episode, Sasha and Stella welcome Dutch journalist, Jan Kuitenbrouwer and Dutch sociologist, Peter Vasterman. The two collaborated and most recently published an article; (translated title) “Trans Care Too Must Meet Health Science Standards”, weighing caution to the quality of the standard of care for transgender health and medicine, virtually all based on and adapted from the Dutch model of care.

Jan Kuitenbrouwer is Dutch writer, journalist, award-winning columnist and bestselling author, who has published extensively on gender and the trans movement since early last year. His 40+ year career yields an extensive body of work centered around themes exploring social and cultural trends, information technology, politics, and language.

Dr. Peter Vasterman is a media sociologist and former assistant professor of media sociology at the University of Amsterdam, department of Media Studies, as well as coordinator of the Master in Journalism. He obtained his PhD in 2004 at the University of Amsterdam with a dissertation, titled “Mediahype” on the effect of media hypes on news topics such as senseless violence, His main research areas include: media hypes and the role of the (social) media in the construction of social problems, scandals, crises and disasters.

In this conversation, you will hear them both speak about the prideful nature of Dutch culture: the Dutch often hold themselves in high esteem for being a ‘gidsland’, a beacon of progression for the rest of the world. In a culture where conformity is a highly valued way of life, the Dutch may leave little room for debate and contrast. As such, it is to no surprise that the Dutch mainstream media played a substantial role in promoting early medical interventions for youth with gender dysphoria. Peter and Jan discuss the challenges they faced when attempting to publish pieces which objectively review the full context of the medical protocol. Stories which attempt to frame the Dutch Protocol as anything other than a leading medical innovation with impressive aesthetic outcomes seemed to have been hushed and rejected in the news. Media messaging extravagantly lacked attention to the complicated elements of the medical pathway, and silenced the voices who tried to draw attention to the dangerous risks associated with the transgender treatments for youth.


Jan Kuitenbrouwer:



Links to Articles:


Peter Vasterman:




The Article they Co-Wrote (English version): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1S_coeD1ChooRCZnmGgHL3PkOPHJbUXeL0cXycuOgmlY/mobilebasic

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Extended Notes

  • Medical and ethical issues are at the forefront of Dutch social-political innovation.
  • In 1999, there was a debate and criticism about puberty blockers but it didn't last long.
  • A program named He is a She was shown in Holland on the public broadcasting channel.
  • A paradox within Dutch culture is that they are extremely progressive but also conformist.
  • Being thought of as old-fashioned is almost a phobia in Holland.
  • After 40 successful publishing years, Peter’s book review project was canceled shortly before it was to be released.
  • A Dutch phenomenon is removing government boundaries in lieu of privatization.
  • Peter studied the Twitter storms that took place after the opinion piece was published.
  • When attempting to publish the piece on Dutch protocol, Peter and Jan found the level of journalistic scrutiny was unparalleled.
  • It is very hard for journalists to do investigative reporting on the clinics because staff won’t allow it.
  • When finally released, an important research proposal was almost completely redacted.
  • A pharmaceutical company that sells puberty blockers also sponsored the original research article.
  • Side effects of puberty blockers were first hidden and then later revealed.
  • The Dutch protocol was built on the idea that the children who would get puberty blockers were gender non-conforming.


“In Holland, it is very hard to speak out against innovation because innovation is by definition good.” — Jan [19:58]

“I've been in journalism for 45 years and this is the hardest fought publication ever.” — Jan [45:16]

“There is not one report in the Netherlands [about] what happens in the clinics, therapies, and assessments.” — Peter [54:42]

“There is no investigative reporting, they will not allow it.” — Jan [55:23]

“The details are behind this black wall of redaction. It's crazy.” — Jan [59:54]

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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.

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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.