Episode 141

141 - Silenced for Asking Questions About Gender Medicine with Dr. Jillian Spencer

Published on: 17th November, 2023

Join Sasha & Stella for their interview with Dr. Jillian Spencer, a child and adolescent psychiatrist from Queensland, Australia. This episode delves into Dr. Spencer's experiences with the gender clinic in her hospital, highlighting the challenges and concerns she faced in encountering adolescents identifying as transgender. The episode explores the complexities of assessing and treating gender dysphoria in young individuals, shedding light on the impact of fast-tracking into gender clinics and the potential psychological consequences. Dr. Spencer shares her journey of trying to raise awareness about the concerns surrounding gender interventions for children and the need for a more comprehensive approach to mental health. 

Jillian Spencer is a child and adolescent psychiatrist who lives in Queensland, Australia. She studied Medicine at Monash University in Melbourne and then subsequently trained in psychiatry. She completed sub-speciality certificates in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry. She qualified as a psychiatrist in 2009. She has worked for Queensland Health for 21 years. In mid-April 2023, she was removed from clinical duties due to being considered a danger to trans and gender diverse children. Since her story came out in the media in June, she has sought to raise awareness of the concerns around gender interventions for children.

Sasha & Stella’s conversation with Dr. Spencer touches on the influence of clinicians, the surge in youth attending gender clinics, encounters with dismissive responses from superiors, and the attempt to raise critical questions about safeguarding and ethical considerations in the treatment of gender dysphoria.

This is the emotionally compelling account of the circumstances surrounding Dr. Spencer’s suspension from clinical duties, her experiences raising awareness through presentations, distributing books, and participating in "Let Women Speak" rallies, and the broader implications for healthcare professionals challenging the prevailing narrative on gender dysphoria in children.

Dr. Jillian Spencer speaks at a Let Women Speak rally in 2023 with Kellie-Jay Keen


Dr. Spencer’s reference of former GWL guest, Ellie from her 2023 presentation:

Models of Care for Children with Gender Dysphoria


Introduction to the Gender Framework


Genspect’s: The Gender Framework


Bigger Picture Conference - Denver

Talks from the #genspectbiggerpicture conference in Denver, CO, 2023. More videos will be added regularly, revisit the link again for more content.


Order Our Book – When Kids Say They’re Trans: A Guide for Thoughtful Parents


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Join the conversation on YouTube


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

Episode 90 — Tomboy at Tavistock: Ellie’s Desistance Story


Episode 104 — No Time to Think with Hannah Barnes: The Downfall of GIDS at the Tavistock


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


GWL Episode Playlist

Top Episodes for Therapists Working with Gender


GWL Episode Playlist

GIDS at the Tavistock


Episodes of Gender: A Wider Lens where we discuss what happened at the Gender Identity Service at the Tavistock

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.