Episode 46

Published on:

22nd Oct 2021

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

Our conversation with Helena continues and takes a personal, intimate turn. She reflects that her desire to transition was actually an attempt to meet a deep relational need. She sought to garner a kind of engagement and recognition from her parents. Unfortunately, the way they responded triggered a doubling-down and sense of urgency for medical intervention. Helena offers some insights into better ways parents can react to their gender-questioning child in the hopes of helping families avoid the dissolution hers experienced. This vulnerable conversation confronts the challenges of family relations with both emotional honesty and courage.


Helena on Twitter:



Extended Notes:

  • Trans kids are worried about how their parents will receive their trans letter. What’s going through their minds when they’re about to come out to their parents?
  • Helena wanted attention so badly. She had a very distant relationship with her parents and she wanted to have the same sort of household her peers were having (involved parents).
  • In Helena’s family, they found out she was trans and then it became an elephant in the room where no one really ever spoke about it again. Helena shares what happened when she came out.
  • What reaction was Helena hoping to get from her mother?
  • Helena decided to go through with her plan anyway and write a coming-out letter. She found it in the kitchen trash a few days later. It was like no one in her household cared.
  • Helena got into another huge fight about her identity when she came back temporarily from college with her mother.
  • It turned into Helena being completely rejected by her mother and she had to go no contact for over a year with her.
  • Because Helena was rejected from her household, she felt like she had to double down as a boy and she couldn’t go back to being a girl.
  • Helena shares how she was able to get her hands on testosterone without her parent’s consent.
  • Helena was so convincing that the nurse and the professionals just decided to skip blood work and give her very, very high doses of testosterone right off the bat. In retrospect, this was concerning.
  • What is Helena’s relationship with her parents now?
  • Growing up, Helena felt like it was just all her fault.
  • Helena is still grappling with the effects of her childhood and how lonely she felt.
  • What advice does Helena have for parents?
  • It’s not your job to change your child’s mind. It’s your job to just be aware, attentive, and listen. Your child is not aware of all the consequences.
  • If your child doesn’t want to talk, then start small.
  • Don’t explode with your emotions. Use your words. Be vulnerable. Try to be open. Try to express what you’re feeling, not thinking, to them.
  • What made Helena detransition?
  • Helena identifies as an outsider and tries to recreate different scenarios to be in that space again.

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.