Episode 53

Published on:

10th Dec 2021

53 - You Affirmed Your Child's Gender... How to Roll Back

Sometimes parents come to realize that the affirmative approach hasn’t worked out for their gender-distressed child and they could benefit from alternative approaches. In this episode, Sasha and Stella discuss the many complicated reasons some parents reluctantly affirm their child’s gender and how difficult and brave it can be to rethink the strategy. Parenting styles are explored, and Sasha and Stella point out the importance of finding your confident voice and parenting authority. They also offer tips and suggestions for steering the ship in a better direction once a family has gathered more information and observed an unfavorable outcome of the affirmative approach. These strategies include mitigating powerful influences on your child, broadening the family’s perspective on what overall well-being looks like, and modeling that it’s OK to change your mind once you get better information.


High Warmth, High Expectations lead to the best outcomes: Developmentalscience.com/blog/2015/6/28/the-only-parenting-model-you-need

Book Recommendation for parents: Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers Amazon.com/Hold-Your-Kids-Parents-Matter/dp/0375760288


“4 Types of Parenting Styles and Their Effects on Kids” Verywellfamily.com/types-of-parenting-styles-1095045

“Diana Baumrind’s Parenting Styles”: Iastate.pressbooks.pub/parentingfamilydiversity/chapter/chapter-1-2/

Extended Notes:

  • Is affirming the best way to support a gender-questioning teen?
  • Affirmation is often a bandage approach to a much bigger underlying problem.
  • Do you think you made a mistake with affirming your child’s gender? Let’s discuss this openly.
  • Parents have been steered wrong on this issue and it takes a certain level of strength and rebelliousness for parents to go against doctor’s orders.
  • Some parents give in because they’re so tired of being called transphobic.
  • Sometimes children are just trying to test the boundaries, and saying they’re transgender is one of those “boundary-pushing” things.
  • Stella admits we’re in no man’s land. It can be tough to know what’s right and what’s wrong.
  • What do you do with the whole pronoun issue? What should parents use?
  • Are you afraid of your child’s distress and their tears? Does your parental instinct kick in to do everything in your power to make them feel better?
  • What happens if you have a more authoritative parenting style? How does that work in a gender-questioning teen?
  • How do you tell your friends and family you have a gender-questioning teen? If you tell half of your circle of friends and the other half you don’t, your teen will perceive that as transphobia instead of “this is a complicated issue.”
  • Sasha explores whether being honest about your distrust in this “gender-questioning thing” is a good thing or not.
  • It’s okay to change your mind on your approach to this tricky process. Sasha breaks down how you can communicate this to your child.
  • A young person is constantly searching for their identity and what makes them who they are.
  • If you want to slow things down, take the focus away from gender and then see what happens.
  • Do you want a pause or an undo on the medical process? Stella talks about interventions with your child and how to best approach this.
  • Our knowledge about childhood transitioners is changing rapidly. We have more information than we did three years ago, or even a year ago.


“I solved issue A and it brought in seven more issues, and this has done nothing good for the household.” — Stella [4:30]

“Permissive parents tend to have children who become chronically unhappy, who aren’t able to handle distress.” — Stella [25:50]

“It’s not the worst thing in the world to have a temporary moment where you really let your true feelings out, as long as there’s some kind of reconciliation. That’s a normal part of parent/child relationships.” — Sasha [41:40]

This podcast is sponsored by ReIME and Genspect. Visit Rethinkime.org and Genspect.org to learn more.

For 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

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.