Episode 125

125 - From Gender Expert to Skeptical Dissenter with Sara Stockton

Published on: 4th August, 2023

In this episode, Sasha and Stella sit down with Sara Stockton, MA, LMFT. Sara is a licensed marriage and family therapist who initially worked with affirmative clinicians, fully embracing gender identity theory. Initially, Sara earnestly believed in her work and its potential to help transgender youth. Over time, she began to doubt the field's effectiveness, the emerging adoption of queer theory bias within the field, and grew concerned with the poor treatment outcomes she began encountering with patients.

Sara Stockton is a licensed marriage and family therapist, lecturer, researcher, presenter, and clinical supervisor of a psychotherapy practice in central New York. In 2012, she co-authored and published one of the first mental health assessments utilized to assess youth readiness for medical treatment and gender transition. Sara spent the first part of her career as a clinician treating and advocating on behalf of youth and families surrounding issues with gender. She spent time traveling to teach and train medical facilities, physicians, and schools on how to provide what was then called "gender-affirming care." Sara has treated well over one hundred families, and she also wrote many of the first letters that were used to approve gender transition surgeries on minors.

This conversation explores Sara's professional journey, her moments of doubt and realization, and her decision to speak up and raise awareness about the challenges and potential pitfalls in the field of gender-affirming care. She shares very candidly and courageously about her personal observations of shifts in the patient population, their evolving presentation, and the practices and perceptions around gender identity versus her training. She found herself increasingly uncomfortable with the ways in which certain practical and thoughtful considerations are being disregarded in the affirmation approach.

This is an important discussion exposing the complexities faced by clinicians in the field and the need for more professionals to share their experiences and concerns openly. It is incredibly important to understand the perspectives of clinicians like Sara in order to shed light on the broader issues surrounding gender-affirming care.

For more of our conversation with Sara Stockton, just out listener community here: https://www.patreon.com/WiderLensPod


Sara Stockton on Twitter


Aisling Therapy


Regrets of a Trans-Care Specialist | Sara Stockton | EP 342 (The Dr. Jordan B. Peterson Podcast)


What Is A Woman - Documentary


Changing the Conversation

Dr Hilary Cass OBE explores the challenging nature of developing holistic person-centred services for children and young people with gender dysphoria, and reflects on the need for respectful and constructive discussion around this topic.


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

Episode 31 - Silencing Thought: A Conversation with Heather Brunskell-Evans


Episode 40 — Social Transition: A Powerful Psychosocial Intervention


Episode 44 - Multiple Meanings of Gender Dysphoria: A Conversation with Aaron Terrell


Episode 109 — What If We Are All Wrong: A Mother’s Regret with Rose


Episode 112 — Jamie Reed: “Every Ethical Line I Drew Was Walked On… We Are Hurting People”


Top Episodes for Therapists Working with Gender-Questioning Youth (GWL Playlist)


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.