Episode 70

Published on:

20th May 2022

70 - We're Back! — Parents Lost in a Medical Scandal

We’re back! Sasha and Stella update listeners with how they’ve spent their six-week break and jump right into discussing the plight of parents whose kids are experiencing gender distress. The first-ever in-person Wider Lens retreat for parents was held in Maryland in March 2022. This was a profound experience for the attendees and also for Sasha and Stella, who reflect today upon the common themes picked up at the retreat. These include medical negligence, parental guilt, and the transformative and comforting power of connection that emerged between parents who truly understand each other. Forthcoming plans for Season Two are also highlighted in this episode.

Extended Notes

  • Proof the mental health lesson of “take a break” can have a positive effect.
  • Stella describes how she spent her time away from the podcast.
  • Struggling with writing, Sasha found inspiration in Patricia Goodson’s book, Becoming an Academic Writer.
  • Sasha is creating an environment that is conducive to calm, mindful writing.
  • The interest and impact of the Wider Lens in-person retreat.
  • Sasha calls out the medical professionals who neglect their jobs.
  • It was a warm reception at the retreat as parents mentioned the podcast. Stella felt like she was meeting old friends.
  • At the retreat, parents from all different backgrounds were united by sharing their stories, some for the first time.
  • A common thread between the families was that therapists had recommended social or medical transitions without performing proper assessments.
  • Meeting in person brought a sense of community to parents as similar patterns emerged.
  • Parents often blame themselves but they need to cut themselves some slack. There is no formula.
  • Empathy and understanding are the foundational building blocks of healing.
  • The needs of parents who have boys are profoundly different from girls’ gender dysphoria.
  • Both Stella and Sasha noticed that a lot of sibling tension emerged during the retreat.
  • There is not a lot of family-oriented therapy around gender.
  • Parents who worry about their parenting are probably in the top 5% of caregivers.
  • There is a requirement for parents and that is to let go and trust the process.
  • It is easy for parents to lose themselves when their child feels lost.
  • Identity can trap us in very dangerous ways.
  • During her time off, Sasha has been re-exploring Tao.
  • Sasha recommends The Parent's Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents,
  • by William Martin to Stella.
  • There will be another retreat in Arizona at the end of October 2022.
  • Sasha shares the new ideas for forthcoming podcasts.
  • Stella is further exploring the state of the nation in the United States.
  • 2022 could be a pivotal year for gender.


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

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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.