Episode 83

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Published on:

19th Aug 2022

83 — Trans Widow: Off the Grid with Shannon Thrace

Shannon Thrace is a writer, IT professional, and devotee of farm-to-table restaurants, summer festivals, all-night conversations, and lifelong learning. She’s passionate about unplugging, getting outside, and traveling the world. She’s also a trans widow who has written a memoir, soon to be published.

Today Shannon tells about first meeting her husband, Jaime. She fell in love and married a man who was creative and artistic, with an eclectic but grungy style. He was down for anything, fun to be around, and spontaneous. They moved from the city to the country. This was a young open-minded couple that enjoyed a playfulness in their relationship. So when Jamie stumbled across trans porn and developed an interest in cross-dressing, Shannon was more curious than distressed. But then things took a weird turn. As Jamie started to spend more time in online spaces, and less time in the real world, his interest in cross-dressing changed from a fun activity to a real struggle with gender dysphoria. He spiraled into worsening mental health and their marriage took a dive. Shannon tells the story of how her loving marriage couldn’t withstand the pressure of Jamie’s obsessions, ideologies, and online activism. We touch on the role of affirmative therapists, the loss of her friends, and Shannon’s utter isolation from this complicated situation. Ultimately a solo camping trip helped her ground herself and make a decision about ending the marriage. She ends this interview with some advice to other women who may be in a similar situation.

Links:

Substack: shannonthrace.substack.com

Shannon's Book: 18 Months: A Memoir of a Marriage Lost to Gender Identity

Extended Notes

  • Shannon shares the story of her love for her husband.
  • Exploring Trans pornography was Jamie’s way of introducing Shannon to his transformation.
  • Jamie changed his personal style many times over the years.
  • Shannon identified as a lesbian before meeting her husband.
  • While testing out the waters of cross-dressing, Jamie was writing about his masculinity in a blog.
  • A brief comment from a stranger ignited Jamie’s gender dysphoria.
  • Jamie’s story closely fits into the gender dysphoria narrative on the internet at the time.
  • Jamie was so depressed he stepped out of his everyday life. He quit work and stopped having sex with Shannon.
  • Shannon’s therapist recommended she write a letter to say goodbye to her male partner.
  • The therapist commented that she thought it would be fun to transition Jamie.
  • Jamie started to pull away, sabotaged Shannon in tirades, and gave their mutual friends ultimatums.
  • Jamie has had surgery to fully incorporate his beliefs.
  • Shannon believes gender dysphoria can be acquired.
  • Shannon offers advice for those who have spouses in various stages of transitioning.

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


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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.