Episode 87

Published on:

16th Sep 2022

87 — Medical Technology & Ethics w Jennifer Lahl

Jennifer Lahl is the founder and

president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. She has 25

years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, hospital

administrator, and senior-level nursing manager, and more recently,

she’s also become a successful filmmaker. In 2010, she made her

writing, producing, and directing debut producing the documentary



which has been awarded Best Documentary by the California Independent

Film Festival and has sold in more than 30 countries. She is also the

Director, Executive Producer, and co-writer of Anonymous



(2011), a documentary film exploring the stories of women and men who

were created by anonymous sperm donation. In 2014 she completed three

films on the ethics of third-party reproduction, aka surrogacy, with

a trilogy called: Breeders:





In July 2015, she released a documentary short called



which follows one woman’s egg donation journey. Lahl’s next

feature film, #BigFertility

was released in the fall of 2018.

And of course, we were particularly

interested in Jennifer’s films that focus on gender medicine. Trans








was released in June of 2021. Her forthcoming film, The






is set to release this Fall, in 2022.

In our discussion with Jennifer, she

puts forward her theories about what she calls a “superhighway”

that confidently shuttles people towards risky medical interventions;

this happens, according to Jennifer, both in the realm of fertility

and gender. Fertility is an area that Stella and I know very little

about so it was interesting to hear Jennifer share her experiences as

a nurse and filmmaker who’s been following this topic very closely.

She holds some very strong, but thought-provoking views on the

medicalization of fertility that some are sure to find controversial.

Ultimately, Jennifer’s biggest concern is that any patient, whether

they are pursuing interventions in either fertility or gender

medicine, should be fully informed about the risks involved, and the

outcomes. She also highlights that sometimes a lack of evidence

underlies the model of informed consent. This poses the question: how

can you consent to something if we have very little or no evidence

about it? We explored the parallels that Jennifer has observed in

these two areas of medicine, both, incidentally, with serious ethical

considerations around fertility and reproduction. We highly encourage

you to check out both of the films she’s made on gender, which we

also talk extensively about in this discussion. So here is our

conversation with Jennifer Lahl.

Links & Resources:

  • Center for Bioethics and Culture
  • Network:


  • Trans Mission: What’s the Rush
  • to Reassign Gender:


  • Detransition Diaries: Saving our
  • Sisters:


  • Bill Joy Article: “Why the
  • Future Doesn’t Need Us”:


  • Our Father Film:


  • FDA puts warning label on puberty
  • blockers:


Extended Notes

  • Most of Jennifer’s nursing
  • career was based in pediatrics.

  • Pediatric people are always
  • educating people.

  • In the U.S., there are over one
  • million frozen embryos.

  • Big fertility makes a lot of
  • embryos because it has a high failure rate.

  • Profit is a motive for finding
  • cures in the U.S.

  • In the recent past, women were
  • treated as guinea pigs by fertility doctors.

  • In her movie Eggsploitation,
  • Jennifer spotlights young women who were endangered by fertility
  • doctors.

  • Jennifer made a movie while she
  • had a manuscript on the table because people no longer read.

  • The patient experience has shifted
  • during Jennifer’s tenure in medicine.

  • Ethics classes are not required
  • for medical students.

  • Parental authority is being
  • undermined by the current establishment.

  • Jennifer says California is close
  • to becoming a sanctuary state where gender-questioning teens can go
  • to get cross-sex hormones and surgery.

  • Jennifer shares the fertility
  • preservation information that may impact gender medicine.

  • The CDC publishes an annual report
  • on all the fertility clinics in the U.S.

  • Assisted reproductive technology
  • is too new to understand the full impacts on children born from it.

  • Egg donors are given drugs to put
  • them into a medically introduced menopause.

  • The American Society of
  • Reproductive Medicine offers guidelines to women without proper
  • research or testing.

  • Jennifer stresses the importance
  • of holistically treating children.

This podcast is sponsored by ReIME and

Genspect. Visit https://rethinkime.org/

and https://genspect.org/

to learn more.

For more about our show:


Show artwork for Gender: A Wider Lens Podcast

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/
Support Our Show

About your hosts

Stella O'Malley

Profile picture for Stella O'Malley
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

Profile picture for Sasha Ayad
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.