Episode 7

7 - Collective Collusion

Published on: 22nd January, 2021

In therapy, collusion happens when the therapist (consciously or unconsciously) participates in a client’s bid to avoid an important issue instead of helping the client to gain a deeper understanding or take a more helpful perspective. In the collective, society has colluded with the fantasy of gender identity, much to the detriment of dysphoric and transgender people themselves. Sasha and Stella discuss what factors contribute to this kind of collusion and how individuals have the power to steer us towards a more truthful and thoughtful direction.


Extended Notes

  • What does collusion mean in this context?
  • What’s the difference between a good therapist and a bad therapist? They are able to step back when they’ve colluded with their client.
  • There is collective collusion among therapists as well as collective collusion among languages.
  • Stella showcases how the JK Rowling situation is the perfect example of collective collusion. She is not transphobic!
  • A person-centric therapist might be very reluctant to give honest feedback and to challenge their client.
  • They’re afraid that they’ll rupture the client's trust if they question whether someone with gender dysphoria is a boy or a girl.
  • However, this approach can lead a client to feel stuck and they become a prisoner to their own narrative.
  • It’s important the therapist doesn’t take the word of their client at face-value. Take a bird’s eye view of it instead.
  • People are more than just a walking identity. It’s important for a client to explore all the different reasons why they might have an issue.
  • Stella outlines how therapists fall into collusion instead of exploring the client’s feelings and emotions. It happens because they’re very empathic toward their feelings.
  • By trying to protect your client, you end up hurting them because reality will always hit hard.
  • Stella shares her thoughts on trans therapists and what they need to be aware of when it comes to collusion.
  • It’s easy to be kind short-term, but to be kind long-term is preparing your client for success by helping them realize who they are.
  • Humans will always take advantage of loopholes!
  • It’s easy to fall into “the wrong opinion” when everyone around you touts it as truth!
  • What does pluralistic ignorance mean?
  • Humans follow the status quo, even if logically it doesn’t make sense to follow it.
  • Therapists want to be part of the good side of history, but they need to take a step back and look at the best interest of the client.
  • What makes people stand up for what’s right when everyone is following the status quo?
  • Sasha remembers growing up and having a lot of confusing thoughts about gender and sexuality. She knows growing up in today’s modern times, she would have questioned her gender.
  • Sasha explains how she once witnessed someone getting shot in the back and dying.
  • Are you following orders because you think someone else knows better?
  • Stella shares a study about whether it’s true people follow orders over their own judgment of what’s right or wrong. Sixty-five percent of people did what they were told, even if it meant the killing of someone else.
  • If there’s something in your gut telling you something is wrong, listen to it. The authorities don’t always know what’s best.

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

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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.