What is "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria"

A brief description of "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria" and a summary of the critique.

According to its' proponents: 

"Internationally, gender clinics, therapists, and parents have noted the rise in the number of teens and young adults coming to identify as transgender without any significant prior history of gender dysphoria. This appears to be a novel presentation of gender dysphoria, and warrants further study. Both according to anecdotal report, and as per newer research findings, many of these young people appear to be suffering from other mental health disorders in addition to gender dysphoria. There is some evidence that these teens and young adults are arriving at a belief that they are transgender after spending time on transgender sites online, and/or in conjunction with one or more peers coming out in the same time frame. This raises the concern that there may be elements of social contagion at work."


The Critiques:


1. Excerpts from:

Everything You Need to Know About Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

Published in: Meduim.com. August 22, 2018.  Author: Julia Serrano.

"The term was intended to explain some parents’ observations that 1) their children came out as transgender seemingly suddenly, often during puberty, and 2) their children also had trans-identified peers and interacted with trans-themed social media. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for reluctant parents to presume that their child has adopted a trans (or LGBTQ+ more generally) identity as a result of undue influence from other children and/or outside sources — hence the recurring accusations about transgender agendas, peer pressure, and trans identities supposedly being “trendy.” ROGD takes this presumption one step further: It asserts that any gender dysphoria these adolescents experience represents an entirely new phenomenon that is wholly distinct from the gender dysphoria that transgender people have historically experienced..."

"...It provides reluctant parents with an excuse to disbelieve and disaffirm their child’s gender identity, under the presumption that it is merely a by-product of ROGD. It also provides a rationale for restricting their child’s interactions with transgender peers and access to trans-related information, as such things are the imagined cause of the condition."

"...ROGD provides political cover for those who wish to rollback trans rights and healthcare. For instance, anti-trans groups can cite ROGD as a rationale for excluding trans kids and censoring trans-related media and resources (under the presumption that these things are causing ROGD in other children), and limiting or eliminating the ability to transition (under the presumption that some kids who seek this out are merely ROGD, and/or because ROGD is a brand new medical condition that will require years of further study).

"Is this really a new phenomenon?  No, it is not.  Within trans health circles, it’s been well established that trans people may become gender dysphoric and/or come out about being transgender at any age."

"There is nothing inherently erroneous or illegitimate about a “rapid” onset of gender dysphoria — some trans people experience an epiphany during which all the clues and puzzle pieces suddenly come together, and they finally realize that they are transgender."

"To date [August 22, 2018], only one research study on ROGD has been published — it is authored by Lisa Littman and appeared in PLOS One a few days ago. There are numerous problems with this study... For starters, this was not a study of the children themselves, but rather their parents, who were instructed to fill out a “90-question survey . . . about their adolescent and young adult children.” ...“Recruitment information with a link to the survey was placed on three websites where parents and professionals had been observed to describe rapid onset of gender dysphoria."  In other words, this supposed study of ROGD is entirely based on the opinions of parents who frequent the very same three blogs that invented and vociferously promote the concept of ROGD."

"ROGD proponents frequently harp on the fact that “ROGD kids” tend to have other trans-identified peers, and spend lots of time immersed in transgender-themed social media. The clear implication is that said peers and social media are somehow causing or contributing to the gender dysphoria and trans-identification they experience. But here’s the thing: I’d bet that children who have regular old gender dysphoria also tend to have transgender friends and spend lots of time on trans-themed social media."




2. Excerpts from:

'Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria' Is Biased Junk Science

Published in: Advocate.com.  February 20, 2018.  Author: Brynn Tannehill.

"Recently, a new anti-transgender narrative has emerged among the right wing. The narrative states that teens, particularly those assigned female at birth, are going on the internet and convincing themselves that they are transgender because being transgender is “trendy.” It treats transgender identities as a form of social contagion. This theory has been picked up on by numerous hate groups and conservative news outlets, including LifeSiteBarbara Kay, the Catholic Institute for Marital Healing, the Minnesota Family CouncilMercatorNet, the Illinois Family Institute, the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, and an advocacy group of anti-gay therapists."

"The entire theory is based on a single poster abstract in 2017 by Dr. Lisa Littman. Poster abstracts are often published when not only is the material too weak to be a journal article, but of insufficient quality to even be accepted for oral presentation at a conference. As such, the academic bar for a poster abstract getting accepted is very low. It was, however, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health."

"Littman’s abstract suffers from so many methodological flaws, logical errors, and unacknowledged biases that it fits firmly in the category of junk science. Given how glaring these issues were, it is surprising that the Journal of Adolescent Health published it regardless of how low the bar was set."

"Here’s why this abstract by Littman is poor science.

1. The sample group has a heavy and unacknowledged bias which affects the results...

2. One of her survey questions appears to be a deliberate attempt to hide her bias...

3. The unacknowledged bias in Littman’s sample leads her to ignore plausible explanations for her data supported by extant literature...

4. The conclusions reached by this abstract rely on poor logic and what appears to be a deliberately biased sample...

"“Rapid Onset Gender Dyshphoria” was first proposed as a diagnosis on anti-transgender websites in 2016, and this study appears to be a naked attempt to legitimize anti-transgender animus with a veneer of academic respectability. In the process, however, Littman’s work shreds all standards of academic integrity."

"Instead, with a sample which she makes no attempt to account for biased questions, lack of context, and with no attempt to understand her data within the context of existing research, she ignores Occam’s Razor and leaps to a conclusion that what we are observing is sinister and new, rather than simply what we already expect from transgender youth in unsupportive environments."

"The abstract is an egregious example of biased junk science, and it is surprising that the Journal of Adolescent Health allowed it to be published."