Thou does not get a pass. A working example of why professionals should be challenged when red flags are raised.

Thanks to the consciousness-raising efforts of a small group of dedicated women, more people are now aware of how safeguarding works in the UK. Ordinary women have always had their own internal warning system. They are becoming familiar with terms that help to strengthen their arguments when they instinctively know something is off. Unfortunately, some of this increased awareness about safeguarding is provoking a backlash. Specifically, women en masse are pissing off heads of organisations and groups that purport to put women and/or children at the forefront of their concerns. It has to be said that if those groups and organisations were following safeguarding protocol, women would have no cause to raise concerns.

Here in the UK, we have an excellent safeguarding framework, and that framework is excellent. The problem we’ve had is that procedures have not been followed, and in some instances, they’ve been deliberately ignored. Hence the reason we’re currently faced with widespread institutional and regulatory capture. Having knowledge of widespread capture compels those same ordinary women to hold the line when it comes to safeguarding procedures. They know what happens when a protocol is not followed. Those same women also know that we could be looking at the best part of ten years to eradicate gender ideology from mainstream organisations and government departments. They are currently bearing witness to the worst-case scenario. So, how do you think they’re going to respond when they see new groups and organisations springing up that claim to help combat the indoctrination of children and the general adult population? Do you think those same women should ignore early warning signs that indicate poor practice that can only lead to harm? Do you think those women should be expected to hold themselves to a higher professional standard than the actual professionals fronting the groups and organisations? I think you’re having a laugh and need to give your head a shake if you answered anything but a resounding no to any of those questions.

What follows in this post is a recent example of a still-unresolved online conflict. It is only unusual because, for once, it was a professional woman who held the red flag aloft. However, her earlier tweets indicate she responded after several individuals asked her opinion. The following screenshots are tweets from women who consistently express safeguarding concerns. A couple of these women have taken considerable time in detailing safeguarding protocol to make it easier for other women to feel confident when calling out bad practices. There were many other participants in this online argument; however, it has been necessary to limit evidence to a few critical points for brevity. It is also essential to point out this is not the first time Stella O’Malley has come under fire for lousy safeguarding practice. Hence drawing attention to her behaviour in this post.

A few days ago, an argument erupted after Tania A. Marshall, an Australian clinical psychotherapist, raised an issue with this podcast. It’s episode 58 from Gender: A Wider Lens Podcast and features Stella O’Malley, an Irish psychotherapist, and Sasha Ayad, a counsellor, interviewing American psychologist, Dr Michael Bailey. It is important to note that the criticism centres around a specific podcast segment.

As you can see, Tania describes the red flag behaviour and clarifies she is tweeting about a safeguarding issue. You can read the entire thread here. In other related tweets, Tania also explains that her attention was drawn to the podcast by other women who were concerned about the content. Within the responses to Tania’s tweet, veteran red flag raiser Marjorie Hutchins asks a good question. If you notice, Marjorie doesn’t simply call them a bunch of arseholes or throw out baseless accusations. She opens with a question that details the reason for her concern. She then makes explicit that basic safeguarding principles are being ignored. Marjorie also stays away from absolutes when telling us that ‘children demonstrating age inappropriate sexualised behaviours may be indicative of abuse ‘. This is a critical distinction because it stays within the safeguarding framework. A concern is raised and subsequently determined to be a concern; therefore, the next step is investigation (and not an accusation).

A helpful addition to the argument came from Claire on the 20th of January. Claire began doing these safeguarding videos after the last major online spat involving Stella. Claire has deliberately made the video age-restricted because she feels it is inappropriate for a child to watch. After all, it details adult sexuality and child sexual exploitation. If you haven’t already done so, please listen to the video (you need it for context) and return to this post.

Safeguarding 107

In the first clip, we hear Stella asking Michael if he’s had any thoughts on when AGP likely emerges, whether it is pre or post-puberty. This is a subject Stella has been robustly challenged on before. She was told (by many women) that it was entirely inappropriate to project adult sexual behaviour onto children. The fact she’s even asking the question makes me suspect she’s fishing for ‘proof’ of her own suspicions. Claire makes excellent observations and gives clear reasons for why and where red flags should have been raised. Before being given a critical piece of information, she explains how child development differs from adult behaviour. Claire offers a carefully worded insight into what may be deemed relatively innocent behaviours with several possible explanations. A major red flag emerges after Michael reveals the child’s father was a secret crossdresser. Quite rightly, Claire explains why this should have been a cause for alarm. She also, quite rightly, points out this should’ve been picked up on by Stella and Sasha, considering they both work with vulnerable children and adults.

So, Stella O’Malley and Sasha Ayad fucked up royally during the interview. In the first instance, I’m inclined to say, well, shit happens, and we’re all human. What’s important is how we respond to such events and whether we can learn something. So, after being called out, did Stella practice self-reflection and was she able to realise that concerns raised are valid and worthy of being addressed in a professional capacity? Did she display professionalism? Did she address any of the problems raised? Did she fuck. She doubled down, got defensive, and deflected away from the core issue. The only thing she displayed was closer to narcissistic injury.

This wasn’t the only thing she tweeted, but the fact Stella flat-out misrepresents an essential element of safeguarding saw another safeguarding stalwart counter with a thread of her own. The relevant information is below, and you can read the entire thread here.

Georgia can be cross in name and nature, but rarely does she lack clarity despite the descent of the red mist. Angry at Stella’s attempt to silence concerns and instil doubt in the women, Georgia responded with a clear thread on the key elements of safeguarding. It showed the women precisely where Stella was wrong. Notice that Georgia makes no assumptions or accusations here. This is a thread to raise awareness of some basic tenets of safeguarding. The women who raise safeguarding concerns will often be branded as shrill and incoherent. The faceless and sometimes nameless woman is cast as a nobody who should be ignored and branded as a delusional timewaster. As you can see in the above examples from Claire, Marjorie, and Georgia, the women are very clear and entirely coherent. I think they’re actually pretty professional in the way they go about identifying concerns and explaining how safeguarding actually works.

There are a number of reasons why people react badly to be called out, but I think StanFastic called it best for this instance in a retweet of Georgia’s thread.

Stella was referring specifically to her and her colleague being attacked because of the podcast. As you’ve seen above, especially in Claire’s video, there was good reason to use the word safeguarding. And StanFastic is entirely correct; the response from Stella was not good enough for a professional therapist. Stan also takes the time to identify three important factors that likely fuel Stella’s motivations.

Some women complained of witnessing tribalism in action within the various online groups in the days that followed. Rather than stepping back and applying a little critical thinking, some women (and probably some men) were quick to defend Stella. Claims that she has done so much, that she is an expert in the field, and that she’s on the front line in the fight against gender ideology were lobbed in an attempt to divert attention away from the concerns. Because Stella displays so much narcissism, it’s hard not to see their defence of Stella and Sasha as anything other than an attack by flying monkeys.

It was pretty much the same dynamic last time around. Concerns were raised, and Stella got defensive. Some women were hopeful she would go away and reflect, maybe come back and implement a more favourable strategy. But she didn’t. That incident happened less than two months ago. Here we are again with another situation that could have done with a mature response.

A painful consequence of Stella’s emotionally immature reaction is that the core issue, a major safeguarding concern regarding the inappropriate behaviour of a vulnerable child, was effectively swept under the carpet. This situation certainly did not need to happen and indicates a significant failure of morality and ethics. An important question here is whether they ignore such flags within their practice. To me, it’s an indicator of poor levels of personal integrity and a lack of professionalism. Neither of these things are what you want to see in a therapist. I’m struggling to find anything worthy of trust here.

If the intentions of Stella and Sasha were honourable, they would have mentioned the safeguarding concern within the podcast. Safeguarding is supposed to be central when working with vulnerable adults or children. That would’ve been the ideal scenario. Following on, they would’ve described how such behaviour in a child would be an automatic concern that warranted investigation. They would’ve informed the audience of many of the points Claire raised in the video. Failing to manifest the ideal scenario, I’d then be looking for concerns to be raised by an outside party . . . those pesky women. The next best thing would involve Stella thanking the women for pointing out the stuff they missed during the interview. They would follow this up with an assurance that time would be spent reflecting on what was said and possibly revisiting the offending material with a more analytic mindset. Follow-up communication to clarify lessons learned would finish things off nicely. Stella just does not do this.

I find it disturbing these women have positioned themselves as experts in a niche field with vulnerable families. Stella and Sasha are both heavily invested in building an empire around the concept of trans. There’s the podcast, Genspect, $3k for a three-day retreat in Baltimore, both have their own websites, and then there’s all the orgs. . . Gender Exploratory Therapy Association ($25 to join), the International Association of Therapists for Desisters and Detransitioners; The Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research, the Society for Evidence-based Gender Medicine, and finally (although I could’ve missed a few), Stella is involved with the Gender Dysphoria Support Network. With all this in play, it is easy to see why any suggestion of bad practice would see the defences kick in. But, without a display of self-reflection, awareness, and maybe a little humility or even a real impetus for self-growth, it is very much likely that all of this will be no more than the next set of dangerous organisations that lead to harm. As it stands, they’ve already made it clear that safeguarding doesn’t apply to them or their mates.

After the online disagreement back in December, Stella blocked several key women, including Georgia and Marjorie, who are absolute legends at raising red flags. At that time, I managed to go unnoticed despite raising concerns about her behaviour and was still able to quote tweet her a few days ago.

After a few hours, I realised I couldn’t see her original tweet and lo and behold. . .

The fact that Stella consistently blocks anyone who dares to call her out is a red flag in itself. Those involved or interested in safeguarding are fully aware that no one is above criticism. It is essential to the framework’s integrity that everyone is subject to the same rules. We can all miss flags. We can all engage in toxic group dynamics. What’s important is that when a behaviour or action is called out, we need to stop and reflect. Hopefully, we’ll gain a solid understanding of the dynamics. We will be better equipped to deal with a similar situation more productively. When a situation involves safeguarding, this is massively important because it literally is the difference between keeping a vulnerable person safe from harm and putting them in harm’s way.

I will close this off by saying how I find it reassuring that women are reaching out to others who have shown consistency in their efforts to raise awareness of safeguarding. If you see something concerning, asking someone who clearly understands the framework is absolutely the right thing to do. Abuse is too often perpetuated because people turn a blind eye, stay silent, and leave things under cover of darkness. Stuff like this needs to be aired out in the open.

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