Gender: A Wider Lens
Gender: A Wider Lens
110 — Pathologizing Normal: The Lure of Identity Labels & Diagnoses

110 — Pathologizing Normal: The Lure of Identity Labels & Diagnoses


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It seems like, in Western culture at least, we went from a place where, years ago, mental health issues were never talked about and often dismissed or hushed, to a place today, where it’s so ubiquitous to talk about mental health. And while it’s important that mental health is de-stigmatized, and a good thing that it’s been relatively de-pathologized, in many ways, it has shifted into some kind of identity marker, almost like a sense of identity for people. Mental health categories are becoming a way for people to seek and find meaning about who they are as a person. But this can be dangerous in that people are so much more than just the labels affiliated with their mental health.

With the growing absence of religious and national identities, other identities have come into place in extraordinary ways. In this episode, Sasha and Stella explore society’s evolving tendency to rush to medicalize for quick and radical fixes for generally normal experiences. They discuss obsession with identity labels, the desperate pathologizing of normal distress, medication seeking, and relentless pursuit of the external solution for an internal problem.

Please note this episode was recorded before the release of Stella’s book (which she speaks about being released “soon”). The link for where you can find her book is included below. This episode was also recorded before Detrans Awareness Day 2023 took place, but was released after the events referenced in the episode. Please visit to watch the replay of the entire 2023 Detrans Awareness Day webinar event.


Genspect’s School Policy Guide: Establishing expectations for how schools can best support students with gender dysphoria, who are gender-questioning, who are gender non-conforming or identify as transgender 

The Five Ecological Systems

Interview with Allen Frances, MD:

Stella’s Latest Book — What Your Teen Is Trying To Tell You

Detrans Awareness Day Website

2023 Detrans Awareness Day Webinar Recording

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Extended Notes:

  • Stella stresses the importance of supporting the Detrans Awareness Day events.

  • Sasha defines the term de-transitioner.

  • The crossroads of a mental health diagnosis and identity.

  • Between the ages of 10 and 20, children realize that life can be hard.

  • Treating emotional and psychic distress as a medical condition doesn’t always work.

  • Stella and Sasha discuss ways to handle a diagnosis in a healthy way.

  • Humans are more than a one-dimensional diagnosis.

  • Massive improvements have been made toward mental health awareness.

  • Social media platforms can impact a person’s well-being.

  • Adolescents may be getting through their teenage years but not enjoying them.

  • Stella ponders if there will be an eventual pushback from people living their lives online.

  • The search for community leads people online but then pigeonholes them into certain groups.

  • Stella uses suicide awareness as an example of the issues facing mental health awareness.

  • Consider joining the Patreon community to ask any questions you may have.


“We need public awareness around what is an accepted term for trans, an accepted term for de-trans, and desistance.” — Stella [8:01]

“Getting overly identified with labels can really hinder us.” — Sasha [16:10]

“We are getting more and more fragmented and more and more atomized into me, and my online life. And, that is all I am.” — Stella [49:38]

Gender: A Wider Lens
Gender: A Wider Lens
Therapists Stella O’Malley and Sasha Ayad explore diverse perspectives through a psychological lens, fostering open dialogue on gender identity, transition, and the transgender umbrella. Their work with gender dysphoric clients and unique experiences yield an informed outlook delving into gender's psychological nuances. Interviews with clinicians, academics, transgender individuals, parents, detransitioners, and others touched by gender provide varied insights and intimate inquiry into the taboo yet relevant topic.