Episode 50

50 - When Gender Hits the Holidays

Published on: 19th November, 2021

The holiday season is often associated with big expectations and high hopes. It can be fraught for families, whether they are going through challenging times with a child’s gender identity. Sasha and Stella discuss the meaning of extended family, big celebrations, and how to keep the stakes low and reasonable during the holidays. They also discuss the holidays as a time some young people try to ‘come out,’  while others feel hesitant to reconnect with loved ones who haven’t yet seen their new ‘gender presentation.’ Sasha and Stella also provide practical strategies that families can use to recruit loving trusted adults who also have the child’s best interests in mind.



What happened in LeRoy https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/magazine/teenage-girls-twitching-le-roy.html


Stop That! It's not Tourette's but a new type of mass sociogenic illness: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34424292/


Debbie Nathan’s Lecture:


Genspect’s Brief Guidance for Friends and Family: https://genspect.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Friends-and-family.pdf

Sasha’s Newsletter on Extended Family: 


Whale Rider Movie:


Extended Notes:

  • The holidays are really hard for a lot of gender questioning children. 
  • Our families are our lifeblood to connection, and if there’s conflict within it, it’s hard for everyone involved.
  • People are coming together for the first time since COVID. There’s a lot of things going on.
  • People are more isolated than ever, and when there’s a conflict within the family, it really burdens the parents because they can not rely on their extended family. 
  • What do you do when you haven’t seen your extended family in a while, and you’ve...transitioned? 
  • Families who are ashamed of their child transitioning will try everything they can to keep it a secret. 
  • Some children want their parents to tell the world, others feel betrayed if their parents let out their secret. How do you navigate when each case is so personal and individualized? 
  • What should you talk about at Thanksgiving? 
  • Are you estranged with your child? Sometimes sending a small gift to remind them of home is all that's needed. Sasha offers suggestions. 
  • If you’re planning to see your family this holiday season (or if your children plan to visit you) and you know you’re going to get triggered, find someone close to you who you can call beforehand/during these events. Let them know you will need a ‘lifeline’ on this day. 
  • Families are complicated in general, add tension to the mix and you have a mini explosion waiting to happen. The holidays just intensify these feelings. 
  • Remember, pick your battles. Do you really wanna die on this hill?
  • How do you deal with the grandparents? How do you tell your mom and dad about your gender questioning teen? 
  • Stella shares how her mother was trying to understand the field of work Stella is in as a therapist.
  • Sasha shares resources on how you can help the older generation understand what’s going on in your household. 

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

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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.