Gender: A Wider Lens
Gender: A Wider Lens
55 - Who Gets to Decide What's Normal: A Conversation w/ Lisa Selin Davis

55 - Who Gets to Decide What's Normal: A Conversation w/ Lisa Selin Davis

Lisa Selin Davis is the essayist, journalist, and author of Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different. Like many other open-minded, liberal Americans, she has undergone a familiar arc in her understanding of gender issues. She has experienced, first-hand, the current trend of silencing those who seek a deeper understanding of childhood gender nonconformity. In this conversation, Lisa describes how she came to write her book, examines the current state of journalism, and recounts how our understanding of gender rebels has evolved in society. Lisa reminds us that we are not done learning, and we must keep the conversation going on how to best support those who question their gender or exhibit gender nonconformity.


Tomboy: The Surprising History and Future of Girls Who Dare to Be Different

WPATH Standards of Care, Version 8

Some selected articles of Lisa Selin Davis:

Extended Notes:

  • Why did Lisa decide to write her book, Tomboy?

  • Lisa received a lot of backlash and she was called a child abuser for the way she decided to parent her child.

  • Tomboy helped young girls experiment with masculinity.

  • However, there isn’t a male version of tomboy. So what do the boys do?

  • The word tomboy seems to have been phased out and it has now been replaced with the word, “trans.”

  • What happens to Lisa’s reputation after she publishes her book?

  • Lisa talked to a lot of successfully transitioned trans people, but in the back of her mind, she knew things were going wrong.

  • Lisa noticed that the trans people she spoke to were no different than the butch older lesbians she had spoken to. The only difference is that this younger generation had access to a newer technology.

  • Anyone writing about trans kids should know that we do not have good research on this topic.

  • We have to ask: Does everyone have a gender identity or is it only those with dysphoria that do?

  • Lisa knew if she were to write more about these topics and actually have them published in the New York Times Magazine, there would be consequences for her and her family.

  • In 2013, gender dysphoria and trans children were not big topics. However, this exploded in 2017.

  • It’s crazy to think that a doctor or a therapist can come between a parent and a child.

  • There’s so much underneath the surface that happens in puberty beyond the physical changes that we have to explore.

  • We have to live in a world where we can ask the important questions.

  • The ability to completely change your appearance and identity comes at a very high cost.

  • Lisa doesn’t believe there is a clear path in knowing whether transitioning will work great for one person vs. not so great for another person.

  • If you're deeply uncomfortable with your body, then you do need external help to help you unpack this.

Gender: A Wider Lens
Gender: A Wider Lens
In this podcast, now in its fourth year, therapists Stella O'Malley and Sasha Ayad take a deep dive into the psychological and cultural forces impacting the social changes around "gender." Through interviews with researchers, doctors, therapists, parents, detransitioners, and others, Sasha and Stella's podcast is a "must listen" for anyone trying to navigate the current gender landscape. With their sharp analytical minds and deep compassionate hearts, Stella and Sasha have also become known throughout many parent networks as lighthouses in the midst of some very stormy seas. Previous guests include Helen Joyce, Jesse Singal, Leor Sapir, Kathleen Stock, Jamie Reed, Peter Boghossian and more.