Episode 4

4 - Why Do People Seek a New Identity?

Published on: 1st January, 2021

Quick Notes:

Why do people seek to ​change genders​? What drives a person to ​curate​ a brand new identity? In this episode, Sasha and Stella look beyond a literal understanding of​​ transitioning and explore the​ psychological power and vulnerability of attempting transformation​​.


Hacsi Horvath on Erin Brewer

Queer in the Crib

Gender Dysphoria is not One Thing

Extended Notes:

  • Why do people want to transition?
  • Let’s clear up some misconceptions today about trans people.
  • Why do little children between the ages of three and five have gender dysphoria?
  • Which comes first? Gender nonconformity, then sexuality, or is it the other way around?
  • People can just tell when a child is developing gender-nonconforming traits.
  • What makes a child become gender-nonconforming in the first place? Stella offers some of her insights.
  • There is an instinctive grab for attention when siblings come along and this might create thoughts/feelings of, “If I were the other gender I’d get more attention like the way my brothers (or sisters) are getting.”
  • It’s very hard to parent a strong-willed child, but they tend to do great things if you can handle the storm.
  • It can be hard as a parent. The desire to save face when your child is rebelling can be very difficult to manage.
  • Why would a child in their teenage years be looking to transition?
  • Perhaps the desire to be a different gender, someone other than you, helps teens feel more in control of their developing bodies.
  • Teens constantly being asked “What are you?” by adults adds an extra layer of pressure to their identity.
  • How can a more sensitive and non-aggressive boy get the attention of the girls?
  • When a guy reveals he’s trans or transitioning, all of sudden he’s getting more attention from the girls than ever before.
  • Why don’t you hear more about transvestism anymore?
  • Do children just need to “suck it up”?
  • Adults really underestimate the mental toll puberty can have on children.
  • Some children don’t even explore the option of transitioning into another gender because they didn’t even realize that they could.
  • We tell children they can be anything they wish! Well, how stressful is that for a child who doesn’t even know who they are?
  • What do you do when a young child is influenced by social media?
  • There are so many options to pick an identity or gender pronoun. It’s stressful for a child to pick “who” they are.
  • The more accepted transgender identities become, the more people will be asking masculine women when they plan to transition. That’s exhausting and insulting.
  • What does it really mean to be a “woman” or to be a “man”?
  • We want excitement. For some people, it’s exciting to call yourself a different pronoun. It’s new, it’s different, it makes you stand out.
  • Even if you change your gender, you still wake up the same person on the inside.
  • Sasha believes there should be a mandate for psychological exploration before taking a big decision like a gender change.

This podcast is partially sponsored by ReIME, Rethink Identity Medicine Ethics:


Learn more about our show: 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

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

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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.