Episode 40

40 — Social Transition: A Powerful Psychosocial Intervention

Published on: 10th September, 2021

Social transition is often the first recommended intervention when a young person begins questioning his or her gender identity. It entails changing one’s name, pronouns, appearance, and other identity markers to match the desired gender. In very recent years, schools, led by the current gender identity affirmative approach, have taken it upon themselves to support and sometimes encourage students with social transition. Families often feel pressured by professionals to make these powerful changes despite little evidence supporting these interventions. At times, living in another identity can create more problems than it resolves. In this episode Sasha and Stella do a deep dive into the many challenges that arise with social transition.


Michael Biggs on Puberty Blockers:


How Trans Kids and Parents Decide When to Start Medical Transition (VICE News): Youtu.be/QD720mHFqW0

Detrans Needs Survey: Tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00918369.2021.1919479

Kai and Kimberly: Vice.com/en/article/9k9bkv/she-was-asking-the-lord-to-let-her-die-raising-a-trans-child-in-texas

Catherine Tuerk: Catherinetuerk.com/about/


Extended Notes:

  • What’s the difference between pre-gay children vs. transgender children? 
  • Sasha shares a story of how a mother reacted poorly to her son’s femininity. 
  • So many families just have no idea what to do in a situation like this. 
  • What does transitioning look like for those under 8 or 9? 
  • For parents, it’s almost like a scary nightmare when their child says they’re an opposite sex. What do you do? How does one prepare for this? 
  • Adults have the responsibility to teach their children about the realities of the world. 
  • Should children really be leading the way on how they’re feeling? Should therapists really be listening to these young children? 
  • What is sex constancy? 
  • It’s so dangerous to have a 4 year old transition. 
  • Should you let children explore their gender identity? Sasha thinks it’s a blurry line. 
  • Context and environment matters. Watchfully waiting doesn’t always make sense in today’s world when our children have strong influences to ‘be a certain way’. 
  • During Stella’s generation, they’d just ask her if she was a boy or a girl. Now, children are being asked by their community if they’re trans. It’s a very different shift. 
  • People are put into a very ‘gendered’ box these days. The moment you’re slightly different than that, society asks if you’re transitioning. 
  • What are the psychological impacts of a 13 year old socially transitioning? 
  • Children who socially transition end up in an interesting situation. They either have to commit 100% or be seen as a fraud. 
  • Parents are terrified. They go down this path because they’re afraid their child will commit suicide. 
  • Your 5 year old is not going to be committing suicide! 
  • There’s so much talk about transphobia and parents kicking these children out of the house. The opposite is true. Parents are deeply concerned and they want to do the best for their children and love them unconditionally, no matter their gender. 
  • What is the best way forward? How can people be more accepting of pronouns and not feel like they’re in a box?  
  • Why would you tell a young child that using the wrong pronouns would kill you? It’s gotten that extreme and the pressure on these young minds are immense. 
  • The moment a child declares they are socially transitioned, it seems like they get pushed by the adults into doing things they might not feel comfortable doing yet. For example, a young female girl is encouraged to change in the male lockers. 
  • The respect for the process seems to be thrown out the window. 

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.