Episode 121

121 - Practical Advice for Managing Gender Identity in Schools with Dr. Kate Goonan

Published on: 7th July, 2023

Episode 121 - Practical Advice for Managing Gender Identity in Schools with Dr. Kate Goonan

In this episode, Sasha & Stella spend time with Dr. Kate Goonan, an advisory and advocacy specialist with Genspect. Together they discuss the importance of building a strong support system for young individuals experiencing gender dysphoria. Kate shares about her approach for navigating gender dysphoria compassionately, grounded in realism, and offers clear, practical advice to parents.

Dr. Kate Goonan is board certified physician who graduated from University of California at Davis School of Medicine and completed her residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Primary Care Internal Medicine. After several years of practicing primary care and women’s health, her career focus moved to evidence-based medicine and quality improvement. 

Two years ago, she started studying the evidence base around gender dysphoria. She took a role in Genspect advising parents on how to manage their specialists, psychologists, and schools. Now fully retired, Kate continues to advise families on their strategies with schools and caregivers. She leads Genspect’s team developing model school policies and educational resources for school personnel and parents. Her goal is to apply her skills and expertise to ensuring parents and schools approach gender non-conforming children with a fully informed and open-minded approach. 

Her extensive background serves her work with Genspect well, as Dr. Goonan spent time serving as medical director overseeing medical policy and quality for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. She has also authored two books on quality in health care and was appointed as a judge for the U.S. presidential award for performance excellence in business, health care, and education (Baldrige Performance Excellence Award 1999-2002). Kate grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in a family affected by another dysphoria: anorexia.


Comprehensive Gender Identity School Policy - USA 


Transparency in Education Newsletter


Dr. Goonan’s Advocacy Work w/ Genspect




Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Possible Cases, Diaz, S., Bailey, J.M. RETRACTED ARTICLE: Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Possible Cases. Arch Sex Behav 52, 1031–1043 (2023). 


Please note: this episode was recorded prior to the June 2023 retraction of the above cited paper (referenced in the discussion). We discuss this paper and the context of threats for its potential retraction with one of the paper’s authors, Mike Bailey, directly in Episode 116. And we have him back again to follow up in response to the retraction announcement in a future episode (scheduled to be released mid July 2023).

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

Episode 80 — Desistance Part II — Advice for Parents


Episode 106 — Detransition Awareness: Beyond Identity & Political Narratives


Episode 108 — Genspect Vision: The Bigger Picture with Joe Burgo & Alasdair Gunn


Episode 113 — Gender A Wider Lens LIVE from Ireland


Gender & Schools | GWL Episode Playlist


This episode is the second full length episode added to this playlist, so if you’re tuning in soon after its release, this playlist will seem sparse - we encourage you to bookmark the playlist for future reference as more episodes are added.

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

Watch us on YouTube: 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

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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.