Episode 13

13 - Are Brilliant People More Likely Trans?

Published on: 5th March, 2021

Gifted and exceptional children seem more inclined to gender nonconformity and they represent a significant proportion of the ROGD teens discussed in Dr. Littman’s research. Sasha and Stella explore why there may be a link between brilliance and transgender identity.


Extended Notes

  • How do the Irish reward/acknowledge/talk about “exceptional learners” and gifted individuals?
  • Educated American parents want to know how gifted their children really are.
  • Children who are exceptionally gifted will be placed in a different learning program to help them accelerate.
  • Kids can get set up with the expectation that they’re going to be exceptional all the time, and that leads to a lot of disappointment in life.
  • Why are gender dysphoria and “giftedness” linked?
  • How do you define a “gifted” person?
  • Sasha believes a lot of gifted people really struggle with depression in their teenage years as they see all their peers having fun and they “just can’t relate.”
  • It’s very lonely being intelligent.
  • Intense kids crave really deep relationships and are dissatisfied by superficial relationships that are very common during the teenage years.
  • Stella has noticed that a lot of teens aren’t “that into” music anymore. It used to be a huge part of her identity when she was growing up.
  • If you have a growth mindset, you’re able to handle failure much easily.
  • Everyone in life is “in a process.” Nobody starts out great.
  • Do you have a fear of failure? It's a very common experience!
  • Companies are savvy and they want you to get excited, emotionally, so that there’s more engagement on their platforms.
  • It’s common for teenagers to have a big sense of imaginability, but these can really go “off the rails,” so to speak, with brilliantly gifted kids.
  • What’s concerning is children taking on more video games instead of going outside and being physical to expend all that energy. It impacts your health and your brain.
  • Life is safer for our children today than ever before, but at what cost?
  • If you’re not pushing your body beyond its limits, what’s next? You’re pushing your brain and you’ll seek more and more dangerous behavior online.
  • In gifted education, there is a desire to discover new ideas and gender identity is so cutting edge.

This podcast is partially sponsored by ReIME, Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics:


Learn more about our show: Linktr.ee/WiderLensPod

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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.