Episode 48

Published on:

5th Nov 2021

48 - When an Adult You Love Transitions

When an adult comes out as trans, it might be a liberating moment in their lives that has felt long overdue. Sometimes, however, the sudden nature of the identity change can feel destabilizing to their loved ones. In this episode, Sasha and Stella discuss the many complex factors in adult transition. Are there elements of liberation, freedom, and independence, or might indoctrination or identity crisis be playing a role? And how can families try to stay connected if the adult begins throwing up rigid barriers which create distance and estrangement?


Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family, by Amanda Jette Knox 


Somebody to Love: A Family Story, by Alexandra Heminsley 


Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving, by Christine Benvenuto 



Extended Notes:

  • It’s tricky for everybody involved when you know somebody who is leaving their “old self” to become a radically and visually different person.
  • Let’s talk about the demographics of those who transition. What’s happening if someone transitions in their late 20s?
  • What’s going on in a man’s mind when he transitions at middle age?
  • For many parents, it’s a complete shock that their child wants to change genders. And since they’re no longer living at home, the child doesn’t want to have an “open discussion” about it.
  • When children tell their parents they’re switching majors after three years, that’s a huge shock to parents too! Parents want to talk to their children about what’s going on.
  • When we’re terrified we can act very intensely.
  • Some children don’t want to talk to their parents about it because they don’t want their fragile or uncertain opinion to be swayed.
  • When someone decides to transition later in their life, they are typically men.
  • Stella shares a story of how a man transitioned shortly after his wife had a baby. It appeared he was envious that he couldn’t care for the child in that feminine way.
  • There is a community out there for women who were married to men that have now transitioned.
  • Sometimes people do strange things just to keep the family together.
  • Parents can sometimes feel “abused” by their transitioning teen. What does this typically look like? How do you spot it?
  • For some households, it might make sense to let go with love, or else you and everyone in your family unit will crumble.
  • Watching someone transition is a really disorientating process. It can also really affect younger siblings.
  • There are two sides to the coin. Some children transition okay and continue to lead happy productive lives. Other children get sicker and sicker in their medical journey and the parents (who didn’t want this in the first place) are the only ones who are there to pick up the pieces.
  • What are some low-pressure ways to reach out to your child and communicate with them?
  • It’s really sad when politics get in the way of a family dynamic and those ties end up being completely broken.
  • Can estranged parents/trans children reconnect again?
  • Remember, the relationship is the most important thing you have.
  • When does it make sense to completely cut off ties?

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.

* 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.