Episode 120

120 — Pioneer Series: Researching Sexual Behaviors with James Cantor

Published on: 30th June, 2023

This is a unique episode in that it features a conversation that was originally recorded back in 2022 with Dr. James Cantor. We intentionally decided not to release the episode at that time. You’ll hear Sasha and Stella introduce the conversation by sharing more about why they chose to withhold the episode for all this time and why they have opted to release it now, over a year after recording.

Dr. Cantor is a clinical psychologist and sexual behaviour scientist. For the past 20 years, he has been studying the nature and causes of sexual interests from relatively familiar ones — such as heterosexuality and homosexuality, transsexuality, and asexuality — to rare and exotic phenomena, including vorarephilia (sexual fantasies of being swallowed) and furries (people who have sex while dressed or cross-dressed as animals). The most widely discussed of his findings has been his research using neuroimaging and other techniques to isolate the causes of pedophilia and hebephilia (the sexual preferences for prepubescent and pubescent children). His team’s results have been published in the highest-impact journals of psychology, including Psychological Bulletin, the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, and the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Dr. Cantor regularly appears in the media internationally to discuss how society can better apply science to prevent sexual abuse and provide more ethical and more effective treatment for people with atypical sexual interests. Interviews with him have appeared on CNN, NPR, The New York Times, and on Dan Savage’s Savage Love. Dr. Cantor is currently the Director of the Toronto Sexuality Centre and is the past Editor of the Sexual Abuse, the top research journal in this field and the official journal for the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers.

James Cantor is considered controversial in some circles and yet he is a well-respected researcher who sits on the editorial boards of two peer-reviewed journals (the Journal of Sexual Aggression and Archives of Sexual Behavior). Cantor’s position is similar to that of the Prevention Project Dunkelfeld in Germany: “You are not guilty because of your sexual desire, but you are responsible for your sexual behavior. There is help! Don't become an offender!”

Sasha and Stella speak with Dr. Cantor in the spirit of genuine inquiry, fierce debate, and the desire to wrap their minds around difficult and complex topics which society needs to address. As psychotherapists, the Gender: A Wider Lens hosts, believe in the importance of dialogue and bringing the issues explored in this conversation out from the shadows in an effort to understand how to encourage better outcomes.


For updates and downloads, visit his website www.jamescantor.org.

Follow him on Twitter @JamesCantorPhD

M. Beier†, Janina Neutze, Ingrid A. Mundt, Christoph J. Ahlers, David Goecker, Anna Konrad, Gerard A. Schaefer, (2009). “Encouraging self-identified pedophiles and hebephiles to seek professional help: First results of the Prevention Project Dunkelfeld (PPD)*” https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= 

“Exploring the Implications of Child Sex Dolls”


“On the Push to De-Stigmatize Evil,” by Holly Math Nerd:


Sexology today - childhood desistance, “Do trans- kids stay trans- when they grow up?”


Resources for Sexual Abuse Survivors: 


“The German Dunkelfeld project: a pilot study to prevent child sexual abuse and the use of child abusive images”


“American Academy of Pediatrics policy and trans- kids: Fact-checking”


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

The Pioneers Series Playlist

A series of episodes dedicated to conversations with key figures in the history of gender distress, gender medicine, and gender transition.


Please visit http://www.widerlenspod.com/ to explore more content, access additional resources, or to join our listener community.

Watch us on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/@widerlenspod

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

Sasha Ayad: https://inspiredteentherapy.com/parents-start-here 

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/

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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.