Episode 92

Published on:

21st Oct 2022

92 — Brian Belovitch: From Boy to Girl to Woman to Man

Brian Belovitch is an author, actor, and mental health professional. As a longtime resident of NY, he has a storied career as a writer and gender outlier. He was a featured guest on The Moth Storytelling Hour on NPR sharing a story from his memoir, Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man, published in 2018. In June 2019, Brian was named one of the 50 most influential LGBTQ authors of all time by Barnes and Noble and he participated in the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Gay Pride Parade in New York City. Brian was also the subject of a documentary film that made its world premiere at DOC NYC titled; I’m Gonna Make You Love Me directed by Karen Bernstein.

Most recently, Brian holds a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, where he plans to use his lived experience as a cis gay man of trans experience to help others who are exploring their identity journeys. As a long-term survivor of HIV, Brian lives proudly as an out beloved gay 

man, advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ community in all its wondrous expressions.

We start today, all the way back to Brian’s childhood. He was always a feminine and flamboyant kid, and his parents and brothers ostracized him severely for it. He tells us about his complicated relationship with his family and early on beginning to live a life full of risks, adventures, and self-sabotage. In New York in the 70s, Brian was living through a whirlwind of drugs, nightclubs, prostitution, and drag shows. He could not find his place as a feminine gay man and the pull towards creating a beautiful, seductive, new self as a woman became too strong to withstand. Brian transitioned to Tish and embarked on new trans adventures, both enriching and self-destructive. Tish even married an army man and tried to settle down in a domestic housewife role that Tish thought was expected of women. Only after beginning his process of sobriety did Tish realize this was a dead-end path that would either lead to bottom surgery or, as Brian now puts it, death. So as the fog of addiction cleared and with the help of a supportive therapist, Tish decided to re-transition to Brian. There are a lot of adult themes discussed today, so please be mindful of who's listening. We hope you enjoy our discussion with Brian Belovitch.


Extended Notes

  • Brian was often misgendered as a child.
  • Growing up with five athletic brothers didn’t feel right to Brian.
  • Brian was influenced by the homophobic and racist nature of his childhood home.
  • Most of Brian’s earliest sexual experiences were not positive, loving experiences.
  • Paulie was the first person to see Brian and appreciate who he was as a person.
  • At 17, Brian’s mother kicked him out of his childhood home but was welcomed by Paulie’s mother.
  • Dressing in drag offered Brian acceptance and validation.
  • At 19, after starting the transition process, Brian attempted suicide when his family rejected him.
  • Because of his beauty, Brian had passing privilege and married a soldier.
  • Finally, at 30, a therapist asked Brian what he thought about being male.
  • Therapy and sobriety changed Brian’s life.
  • Brian never considered the consequences of being unfaithful to his husband.
  • Living with the risks of sex work was only made easier by Brian’s drug and alcohol use.
  • No one knew Brian was trans.
  • Brian found it harder to transition from Tish to Brian than he did originally transitioning to Tish.
  • Brian uses re-transitioned, not de-transitioned to describe his process.
  • Working with middle and high school kids reminded Brian of hard times in his past.
  • Searching for happiness is the theme of Brian’s life.

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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.