Episode 115

Published on:

26th May 2023

115 — How Online Communities Shape Thought, Desire, and Doubt about Transition: with Eliza Mondegreen

In this episode, Sasha & Stella chat with graduate student and Substack author Eliza Mondegreen, who is dedicated to the study of online trans and detrans communities. She also studies the knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs underpinning affirmative care.

The conversation with Eliza begins with a deep dive into what led to her intimate exploration of gender. She shares how her history with eating disorders, an early interest in the study of totalitarianism, advocacy work around women’s reproductive health, and her relationship with a close friend during their transition experience all helped pave the way for her intense interest and curiosity about gender, specifically the psychological experience as it relates to projecting distress and the medical interventions for managing the distress. Eliza shares how she explores these concepts in depth through her engagement with online communities (like Reddit) where she observes and reflects on the stories, ideas, and reactions shared by other members inside the internet-based groups.

Eliza also speaks about her attendance at both the EPATH conference recently in Ireland, and the WAPTH conference last year in Canada for a fully immersive experience and a first-hand account of the affirmative approach to trans healthcare and medicalization. Eliza writes extensively on her Substack about her encounters and observations, and her first-hand exposure from inside the online and medical communities indulging the identity that is “trans.”


gender: hacked by Eliza Mondegreen

Graduate student researching and writing about all things gender identity


FTM Over 30 | FTM Over 30

A place for FTM/FTN/FTX folk over 30 to come together for support and discussion. If your life experiences better align with those who are usually over 30, you're welcome here. 


FTM Men | FTM Men

A support and community-oriented space for binary FTM men.


r/detrans | Detransition Subreddit

Welcome all detransitioners/desisters and self-questioners.


r/actual detrans | detrans_support

An alternative to r/detrans that provides support to detransitioners, reidentifiers, retransitioners, and questioners in an environment free from gender-critical ideology and rhetoric.


r/ftm | A place for the guys

Support-based discussion place focused on trans men, trans-masc individuals, and other people assigned female at birth who are trans.


Egg IRL Community




If you liked this episode, more episodes you might find interesting:

“Episode 6 — Gender Intervention: Treatment or Experiments?”


“Episode 49 — Archives of an Epidemic: A conversation w/ Benjamin Boyce”


“Episode 64 — Pioneers Series: Psychotherapy Pre- and Post-Transition with Az Hakeem”


“Episode 94 — WPATH’s Bizarre 8th Standards of Care”


Please visit https://linktr.ee/widerlenspod to explore more content, access additional resources, or join our listener community.

For more information about Sasha’s & Stella’s private membership groups:

Sasha Ayad: https://inspiredteentherapy.com/parent-coaching

Stella O’Malley: http://www.stellaomalley.com/parent-coaching

To learn more about our sponsors, visit:

GETA https://www.genderexploratory.com/

ReIME https://rethinkime.org/

Genspect https://genspect.org/

Extended Notes:

  • Eliza had anorexia in her teens.
  • She had a fascination with Totalitarianism in school.
  • Eliza’s friend who transitioned was under pressure from her family. They were uncomfortable with same-sex attraction.
  • Eliza has comprehensively researched all aspects of gender and transition therapies.
  • In 2016, Eliza started observing online communities but never created an online persona who engaged with others.
  • Eliza says children who are online in any capacity will be prompted to question their gender.
  • Eliza explains the Egg IRL community and its connection to transgender topics.
  • Eliza explains that online communities set expectations for how users may be treated by their offline families.
  • Eliza summarizes her experiences attending gender care conferences.
  • Clinicians who present at conferences seem to lack curiosity about differences in gender care.
  • Eliza explains the differences between those who attended EPATH’s conference and other conferences.
  • In the past year, Eliza has noticed a lot of radicalization in online spaces.


“Now, if you are a kid and you play Roblox video games, on social media, or join a social network you are going to be prompted to question your gender. It’s almost unavoidable for kids online.” — Eliza Mondegreen [27:56]

“Kids are being presented as what sex you are as a choice. If you are a girl, and you say 'Yes, I'm happy to be identified as a girl' it is taken as consent to be sexualized, and diminished.” — Eliza Mondegreen [29:58]

“I don't understand how people can come into contact with the subject and not be fascinated. And yet, you go to these conferences and you listen to these clinicians and researchers and there is this remarkable lack of curiosity.” — Eliza Mondegreen [53:10]

Show artwork for Gender: A Wider Lens Podcast

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/
Support This Show

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.