Episode 34

Published on:

30th Jul 2021

34 - Gender Dysphoria & Suicide

Sasha and Stella tackle the complex subject of suicide. They reflect on the many emotional and relational difficulties involved and parse out the differences between suicide risk and suicidal ideation. While terrifying, it sometimes offers an escape fantasy and desire for control, making suicide an existential issue. Furthermore, they point to the stark lack of data available relating to gender dysphoria and suicidality and discuss how the fear of suicide is used against families wishing to safeguard their children.   

If you wish to speak to someone about any issues that arose during this please contact the Samaritans https://www.samaritans.org/ireland/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/  






Extended Notes

  • This episode might be triggering, but it’s about suicide and understanding the psychology of it.
  • Suicide is so common in certain groups, yet it is also very misunderstood and misrepresented at the same time.
  • When Robin Williams committed suicide, the way the media and news reported on it was very poor.
  • “What’s the point of talking about it anymore? John’s gone.”
  • Suicide is a difficult burden on parents, loved ones, siblings, everyone is deeply affected by suicide.
  • There are no data available that suggests transitioning will reduce suicide rates and suicidal thoughts.
  • 40% of transgender teens have self-reported they’ve attempted suicide. How true is this, really?
  • Thinking about killing yourself and attempting to kill yourself are two different things. Sasha clarifies what this means.
  • A highly suicidal person has A LOT going on. It’s not just one reason why they decide to end their life.
  • Stella hears how high the stats are, but there’s much more to the story. You have to dig deeper.
  • Courts in England and Wales deemed that children under 16 would first need court approval before they could have access to puberty blockers.
  • The last thing you want a young person to experience is going in and out of mental health hospitals.
  • Stella has noticed that a lot of high-risk individuals for suicide are very existential and philosophical people.
  • There are so many beautiful things you miss out on when you end your own life.
  • There’s a great future ahead of you.
  • Some people are thinking about the fantasy of suicide, but have no intentions of carrying it out.
  • How can parents help their young teens reconnect socially again?
  • When you’re in a dark space, you push people away. This is why it’s important for loved ones that if you have someone pushing you away, you override that and do something fun with them anyway.

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


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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.

* We are sponsored by ReIME and Genspect.
Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics (ReIME) is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving long term care for gender variant individuals. To learn more, visit https://rethinkime.org/

Genspect is an international alliance of parent and professional groups whose aim is to advocate for parents of gender-questioning children and young people. Parents are concerned that their kids are not receiving appropriate treatment and support; many do not feel free to speak out about their concerns.
To learn more, visit https://genspect.org/
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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.