There Is No Evidence That Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria Exists

There Is No Evidence That Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria Exists

An article highlighting some of the major concerns with "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria." Find more on affirmative care for trans and gender nonbinary youth, as well as on the myths of "rapid onset" and "high rates of desistance" at our website:

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Published in: PsychCentral. December 11, 2018.  Author: Florence Ashley.

“In March, 21 experts in trans health endorsed an essay concluding that the hypothesis of ROGD is bad science. The group included multiple past presidents of the Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, its current president, the heads of the specialized Meraki Health Centre, and the lead investigator of the Montreal arm of the Trans Youth CAN! studies.” 

“Despite significant sampling and interpretive concerns with the study, it is not uncommon for it to be uncritically cited as evidence of a social contagion of trans identities.” 

“The first and most commonly noted problem with the study is its choice of sample. It relies on parental report without independent confirmation and posted recruitment advertising exclusively on anti-trans websites…”

“The second and… biggest problem with the study is that Littman fails to consider alternative, more plausible explanations for her observations.  One of the main findings of the study is that children’s mental health and parent-child relationships deteriorate after coming out… However, parental acceptance of gender identity is a well-known predictor of mental wellbeing for transgender people and children who are not supported in their identities are unlikely to want to maintain a good relationship with their parents.”

“A similar interpretive issue arises with regards to social influence. Parents report that their children increased their internet and social media consumption prior to coming out, found themselves in friend groups with many trans people... None of this is surprising… [p]eople who are questioning their gender tend to find themselves consuming content by trans people, both for informational purposes and because of shared experiences… There’s nothing noteworthy about questioning young people consuming social media content representative of their contemporaneous concerns.”

“There is no evidence that ROGD exists. So far, all evidence proposed in favor of the hypothesis is best compatible with adolescent-onset gender dysphoria against a background of parental hostility to gender identity.”

“It is crucial for practitioners to have an adequate understanding of the facts surrounding ROGD, as a mistaken belief that its existence is established could lead to negative consequences in their practice…  It is essential for parents to move past this disruption to their life story and reconstitute a new one which makes room for their child by accommodating change and giving it meaning within the broader family narrative.”