Episode 127

127 - Help! Gender Is a Mess at My School: For Teachers, Counselors, & Administrators

Published on: 18th August, 2023

Adolescence is a natural time for identity exploration. In this episode, Sasha and Stella address the challenges schools face when dealing with students questioning their gender identities. They focus on strategies for finding a balanced approach, honoring students' self-expression, preserving opportunities for further developmental progress and discovery, and respecting family dynamics. They highlight the pressure on schools to quickly respond and adopt policies, often without sufficient evidence of their effectiveness. They discuss the misconception that social transition is the only solution, questioning the long-term efficacy of this intervention and its potential for unintended psychological consequences. The conversation also touches on the fear of suicide, internalized homophobia, and common comorbidities including autism, ADHD, anxiety, and depression that could be contributing to the students' experience. This episode offers valuable insights intended to empower educators to provide a nuanced approach, seeking a balance between offering guidance and respecting the multifaceted journey of identity discovery during the adolescent years.


Suicide by Clinic-Referred Transgender Adolescents in the United Kingdom

Biggs M. Suicide by Clinic-Referred Transgender Adolescents in the United Kingdom. Arch Sex Behav. 2022 Feb;51(2):685-690. doi: 10.1007/s10508-022-02287-7. Epub 2022 Jan 18. PMID: 35043256; PMCID: PMC8888486


Sasha Shares About Her Experience Working as a Middle School Counselor


A Clinical Guide for Therapists Working with Gender-Questioning Youth


School Policy: Gender Identity (USA)


School Policy: Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity (Ireland)


Brief Guidance For Schools


Brief Guidance On Social Transition


The Secret Gender Files - Substack for Malcolm Richard Clark


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

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

Gender & Schools | GWL Episode Playlist


We encourage you to bookmark the playlist for future reference as more episodes are added.

Episode 2 - Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria


Episode 7 - Collective Collusion


Episode 40 - Social Transition: A Powerful Psychosocial Intervention


Episode 34 - Gender Dysphoria and Suicide


Episode 45 - Helena Part I: Social Justice, Fandoms & FTM Gay Boys


Episode 46 - Helena Part II: Advice for Parents from a Former Trans Kid


Pre-Order When Kids Say They’re Trans: A Guide for Thoughtful Parents


When Kids Say They’re Trans: Weekend of Workshops | September 21-24, 2023


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

To learn more about our sponsors, visit:



Next Episode All Episodes Previous Episode
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.

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.
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

Profile picture for Sasha Ayad
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.