Episode 77

77 — Desistance Pt 1 — Accepting Reality: Now vs Then

Published on: 8th July, 2022

This is Part 1 of a 2-part series on desistance. The difference between desistance and detransition is quite stark and in this episode, Sasha and Stella focus on the complex experience of desistance. How might a child come to desist? What facilitates or hinders this process, and what complicated feelings go along with this experience? Sasha and Stella also discuss the changes that have arisen in recent years and how compared to previous generations, society today responds very differently to children with gender dysphoria. In the next episode on desistance, EP 80, Sasha and Stella will help answer the question: How can I tell if my ROGD child may be desisting?


  • Cantor’s analysis of the desistance literature: 


  • Follow-up study of boys with Gender Identity Disorder: 


Extended Notes

  • The word desistance means a person no longer wants to transition.
  • Stella shares her journey of feeling as if she was a girl and also a boy.
  • It can be horrifying when people don’t understand how one feels about their gender.
  • Attempting to will yourself into a new reality.
  • With puberty comes consciousness of reality.
  • For thousands of years, people repressed their sexuality and gender and lived a lie.
  • Growing up in today’s technology-driven world is vastly different from being a teen in the past.
  • There is a correlation between gender non-conforming children and being gay, lesbian, or bi-sexual.
  • A 2021 study showed that 80% of dysphoric boys desisted and 64% were gay.
  • Stella shares her thoughts on This Is How It Always Is: A Novel by Laurie Frankel.
  • Desistance does happen and often teens are grateful they didn’t make permanent changes.
  • Desistance requires a reckoning.
  • Gender issues have been polarized in political realms.
  • Stella wanted to be powerful and feminine when she was 17.
  • A person’s peer group can make it easier or harder for them to desist.
  • People flip-flop their identities all the time.
  • Taking a deeper look into fluidity between identities.
  • Navigating the shame that can accompany questioning gender identity.
  • Desistance can be a coming-of-age process.

This podcast is sponsored by ReIME and Genspect. Visit https://rethinkime.org/ and https://genspect.org/ to learn more.

For more about our show: https://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.