Episode 85

85 — Mother-Daughter Story: "I Didn’t Want to be Yours Anymore" w/ Dr. Maggie Goldsmith

Published on: 2nd September, 2022

Dr. Maggie Goldsmith was working as an independent contractor at the psychological and counseling service of a small, progressive, liberal arts college when her 16-year-old daughter announced that she identified as trans-masculine and required he/him pronouns.

Unable to find appropriate help for her daughter who was intensifying her demands for cross-sex hormone treatment as she approached her 18th birthday, Maggie embarked with her on a trip to their ancestral homeland. While there, Maggie wrote about her experiences as a clinician and parent of a gender-questioning adolescent. In her first PITT Substack essay titled, “To my daughter’s therapist: you were wrong,” Maggie wrote about her daughter’s process of shedding transgender identification as she worked to build a more flexible and resilient sense of self. That essay got over 20,000 reads within the first three months of its publication. Her second PITT essay titled, “Trans and the myth of sloppy parenting,” explored the conditions that made her family fertile ground for gender ideology and how, ultimately, the parent-child bond was the solvent for her daughter’s gender dysphoria.

Maggie’s clinical work with teens and families impacted by gender dysphoria is guided by child and adolescent developmental theory and a belief that a good working alliance between therapist and patient can act as the scaffolding to support a young person’s mental health and emotional growth.

We enjoyed this discussion so much that we decided it will be followed up by a Part II in the coming weeks.

Links & Resources:

Extended Notes

  • Maggie was surprised to see they/them pronouns on student applications.
  • She didn’t think much of her daughter approaching her with the idea of taking hormone therapy when she turned 25.
  • Her daughter had the makings of an identity crisis.
  • During Covid, tragedy struck the family and her children were attending school online.
  • Her daughter went to Planned Parenthood to get testosterone shots on her 18th birthday without talking to Maggie.
  • Even respected gender identity specialists were offering Maggie misplaced recommendations.
  • Maggie felt that she had no resources and that she, as a clinician, would have to figure things out on her own.
  • Attaching to binaries and a denial of history is common in teens and this compels a parent to be present-day focused.
  • The same day Maggie made an appointment for her daughter at a gender clinic, her daughter bought a dress and heels online.
  • Maggie thought about traveling as a way to give her daughter time to get clearer about her identity.
  • Her son supported her daughter’s transition which Maggie found created a toxic environment.
  • A fellow psychologist told Maggie that she was abandoning her son.
  • In the family’s native language there are no gendered pronouns.
  • When Maggie told her daughter she was done with gender issues, her daughter admitted to being done with it as well.

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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.