Episode 55

Published on:

24th Dec 2021

55 - Who Gets to Decide What's Normal: A Conversation w/ Lisa Selin Davis

Lisa Selin Davis is the essayist, journalist, and author of Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different. Like many other open-minded, liberal Americans, she has undergone a familiar arc in her understanding of gender issues. She has experienced, first-hand, the current trend of silencing those who seek a deeper understanding of childhood gender nonconformity. In this conversation, Lisa describes how she came to write her book, examines the current state of journalism, and recounts how our understanding of gender rebels has evolved in society. Lisa reminds us that we are not done learning, and we must keep the conversation going on how to best support those who question their gender or exhibit gender nonconformity.


Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different Amazon.com/Tomboy-Surprising-History-Future-Different/dp/0316458317Future-Different/dp/0316458317

WPATH Standards of Care, Version 8 Wpath.org/soc8


Some selected articles of Lisa Selin Davis: 






Extended Notes:

  • Why did Lisa decide to write her book, Tomboy?
  • Lisa received a lot of backlash and she was called a child abuser for the way she decided to parent her child.
  • Tomboy helped young girls experiment with masculinity.
  • However, there isn’t a male version of tomboy. So what do the boys do?
  • The word tomboy seems to have been phased out and it has now been replaced with the word, “trans.”
  • What happens to Lisa’s reputation after she publishes her book?
  • Lisa talked to a lot of successfully transitioned trans people, but in the back of her mind, she knew things were going wrong.
  • Lisa noticed that the trans people she spoke to were no different than the butch older lesbians she had spoken to. The only difference is that this younger generation had access to a newer technology.
  • Anyone writing about trans kids should know that we do not have good research on this topic.
  • We have to ask: Does everyone have a gender identity or is it only those with dysphoria that do?
  • Lisa knew if she were to write more about these topics and actually have them published in the New York Times Magazine, there would be consequences for her and her family.
  • In 2013, gender dysphoria and trans children were not big topics. However, this exploded in 2017.
  • It’s crazy to think that a doctor or a therapist can come between a parent and a child.
  • There’s so much underneath the surface that happens in puberty beyond the physical changes that we have to explore.
  • We have to live in a world where we can ask the important questions.
  • The ability to completely change your appearance and identity comes at a very high cost.
  • Lisa doesn’t believe there is a clear path in knowing whether transitioning will work great for one person vs. not so great for another person.
  • If you're deeply uncomfortable with your body, then you do need external help to help you unpack this.
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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.