Episode 78

78 — Affirming Reality for Kids with Stephanie Davies-Arai

Published on: 15th July, 2022

Stephanie Davies-Arai is the founder and director of Transgender Trend, the leading UK organization calling for evidence-based healthcare for gender dysphoric children and young people and fact-based teaching in schools. She was shortlisted for the John Maddox Prize 2018 for the school’s guide, “Supporting gender diverse and trans-identified students in schools.” She is a communication skills expert, teacher trainer, parent coach, and author of Communicating with Kids. Stephanie was an intervener in the High Court in support of Keira Bell and Mrs. A, who brought a landmark case against the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service. They claim that under-18s are not old enough to consent to treatment with puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones. Stephanie was awarded the British Empire Medal as founder of Transgender Trend for services to children in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours list.

In this discussion, we talk about how adults have always attempted to strike a balance between encouraging creativity and affirming reality for children. Stephanie started noticing a reversal in the parent-child relationship through her research into parenting books and then saw this trend come to life in media stories of trans children and the parents whose job was to facilitate their child’s self-development.

Stephanie is also asked, given her background as an expert in communication with children, how would she want to introduce ideas of sex, gender, orientation, feminism, and media literacy to kids. We also explore how other vulnerable groups and protected categories are shadowed when we fixate disproportionately on gender and sexuality. How does this impact children’s development and sense of self? What happens when we lie to children? Stephanie offers some advice to parents who hope their child’s fixation on one particular thing will resolve (whether it be gender or otherwise). And lastly, we ask Stephanie to make some predictions of what will transpire regarding gender, transition, and education in the near future.


Extended Notes

  • Stephanie designed her own courses and wrote Communicating with Kids: What Works and What Doesn’t.
  • Parents affirm a child’s reality in life.
  • Based on 1970s TV, Stephanie internalized messages about women and their place in the world.
  • Stephanie feels compelled to act when she sees an injustice.
  • You don’t tell lies to children.
  • A Huffington Post article about trans children and their parents triggered Stephanie to write her first book.
  • In 2014, the BBC released a TV program for kids, named I Am Leo, about a transitioning girl.
  • Stephanie thinks the U.S. was approximately five years ahead of the UK in detransition information.
  • The impact of the pressure of objectification and stereotypes on teens.
  • Feminism is not taught in schools, Identity Politics are.
  • The need to critique organizations that make money from women.
  • Acknowledging gender differences empowers young people to better understand themselves.
  • We can make better decisions if we are aware of the messages we get from our culture.
  • LGBTQ+ groups in schools may pigeonhole kids who just want to be non-conforming or non-conventional.
  • Stephanie examines social contagion in teens.
  • Stephanie receiving the British Empire Medal represents a sea of change.
  • In 5‒10 years, Stephanie believes huge changes will come in schools and clinics.
  • Stephanie describes the many ways girls have been gaslighted in the current educational environment.

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.