Episode 39

39 - Nonbinary Identities

Published on: 3rd September, 2021

With the invention of the term “nonbinary,” we’ve seen an unprecedented number of young people claiming to feel like neither a man nor a woman. Today, we explore Ian Hacking’s concept of “making people up” and the creation of new classifications and “types” of people. Several questions also arise: does a non-binary identification require medicalization? What personality traits may correlate with this identity and is it different in males and females? For parents, how might one respond when a timid child quietly says “No” to the “gender binary?” And what role does non-binary label play as individuals step in and step out of trans identification?


Gender Census: Gendercensus.com/results/2021-worldwide/#pronouns

Kori and Searyl Doty: Theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jul/08/parent-raising-gender-free-child

Jamie Shupe: Theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/16/jamie-shupe-first-non-binary-person-oregon

Jamie Shupe: Twitter.com/notabledesister

Lisa Shupe interviewed on Transparency Podcast: Youtube.com/watch?v=edzyk-TQhEY

Sam Smith: Theguardian.com/music/2019/sep/13/sam-smith-on-being-non-binary-im-changing-my-pronouns-to-theythem

Sam Smith and Alok: Mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/sam-smith-alok-vaid-menon-20126943 

Alice Hope’s YouTube video: Youtube.com/watch?v=9WJBp3eEhqY

Extended Notes:

  • Parents feel so old when the term “nonbinary” gets thrown around. What does it mean?
  • Sasha gives a bit of context and the definition of the word.
  • Nonbinary people have an element of protest. They’re completely opting out of the “normal.”
  • The term “nonbinary” really started picking up speed in 2014 and having it skyrocket in 2019.
  • Are nonbinary identities just a stepping stone into trans identity?
  • A lot of nonbinary females think they should have top surgery, which helps them with their image that they’re in this “neither/or” gender space.
  • Can you inflict your ideologies on a little child? Stella feels like the answer should be no.
  • There is controversy on listing two mothers or two fathers on the birth certificate. It’s a bit like stretching the truth/reality.
  • The average 14-year-old female calls herself nonbinary. What’s going on here?
  • Are our sexual differences causing distress among teenagers? Do they wish for a simpler time where none of this gender stuff matters?
  • It’s a bit of a confusing thing, you shouldn’t go by looks but a lot of these gender identities use looks as a baseline.
  • Can you be nonbinary while also looking very female or very male?
  • How do you know if something is a singular and not a plural when you’re using the “they” pronoun.
  • How do parents manage other children who are calling themselves they/them?
  • Sasha wonders if saying you’re nonbinary is due to some uneasiness that’s happening in their lives, some form of trauma or unhappiness happening.
  • Don’t hang back and feel like everything is fine. Lean into your child’s nonbinary discovery and ask questions.
  • You can partner with your nonbinary child and still make things feel safe and exploratory.
  • It’s really hard for adults and parents to call a singular person “they.”
  • Who was the first legally recognized nonbinary person?

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

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.