Episode 138

138 - The Emotional Lives of Parents Caught in the Gender Maelstrom

Published on: 27th October, 2023

Join Sasha & Stella for this candid conversation delving into the intricate realm of parenting children who identify as transgender. They discuss the fear, confusion, and complex emotions parents face when dealing with their child's gender identity. The conversation touches on the challenges of communicating with their children and the potential risks and benefits of transitioning, emphasizing the importance of making the process more nuanced and less black-and-white, helping young people understand the complexity of their experiences, fostering resilience and offering a realistic perspective on the long-term impacts of gender transition. 

The conversation also explores the emotional challenges, including doubts and fears that parents often confront, such as the sense of losing their child to a different persona. They examine the loss of innocence that frequently accompanies adolescence, and the grieving process, a profound experience for these parents, acknowledging that many parents, in these situations, may grapple with isolation and loneliness. Crucially, Sasha and Stella offer a nuanced perspective, emphasizing that these feelings are normal and not indicative of bad parenting. They celebrate parents for embracing a more thoughtful and reflective path through their child’s gender exploration, even when it's difficult and unpopular, exemplifying the emotional courage and bravery required to support their children on this journey. 

This important discussion offers valuable insights into the unique challenges faced by parents when their children express transgender identities. It promotes empathy, understanding, and resilience within the family unit, fostering a more compassionate and supportive environment for these young individuals.

Gender Dysphoria: What It's Like For Parents



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

Episode 122 - We Wrote a Book: When Kids Say They're Trans | A Guide for Thoughtful Parents



Episode 107 — What Your Teen is Trying to Tell You  



Episode 70- We're Back! — Parents Lost in a Medical Scandal



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



Episode 42 - ROGD & The Struggle to Grow Up



Episode 103 — Follow the Gender-brick Road: from Bi to Pan to Trans



Episode 110 — Pathologizing Normal: The Lure of Identity Labels & Diagnoses



A list of episodes featuring the parent perspective:

Episode 55 - Who Gets to Decide What's Normal: A Conversation w/ Lisa Selin Davis



Episode 75 - Borderline Personality: Distorted Attempts to Integrate - A Conversation w/ Lisa Duval



Episode 84 — Denise Caignon From 4thWaveNow: The View From Behind the Scenes



Episode 85 — Mother-Daughter Story: "I Didn’t Want to be Yours Anymore" w/ Dr. Maggie Goldsmith



Episode 98 — StoicMom: Using Her Child’s Trans Identity for Personal Individuation



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



Episode 136 - Gender as a Communication, It's Not What You Think with Maggie Goldsmith



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

To learn more about our sponsors, visit:



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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

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.