“Rapid-onset gender dysphoria” among teens and young adults may be a social contagion linked with having friends who identify as LGBT, an identity politics peer culture, and an increase in internet use, finds a study out this month from a Brown University professor. The study was quickly yanked from Brown’s news releases after a transgender activist feeding frenzy, and the journal it was published in is reconsidering the publication. There is a parent and researcher-driven petition to stand behind the publication of the first study to look in detail at rapid-onset gender dysphoria.
The petition includes the following graph about gender referrals in the United Kingdom. Anecdotal and news reports, as well as the rapid recent growth in transgender treatment centers, indicates a similar phenomenon inside the United States.
“[T]he parental reports in this study offer important and much-needed preliminary information about a cohort of adolescents, mostly girls, who with no prior history of dysphoria, are requesting irreversible medical interventions, including the potential to impair fertility and future sexual function,” says the petition. “In any other group of children, these grave consequences would be seen as human rights violations unless there was significant and overwhelming evidence these procedures would be beneficial long-term.”
Despite these facts on the ground, Brown issued a statement Tuesday effectively apologizing for publicizing their own professor’s research because, “Brown community members express[ed] concerns that the conclusions of the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.”
“The spirit of free inquiry and scholarly debate is central to academic excellence,” said the statement from Bess Marcus, the dean of Brown’s School of Public Health. “At the same time, we believe firmly that it is also incumbent on public health researchers to listen to multiple perspectives and to recognize and articulate the limitations of their work.”
Hm, I wonder if she would worry about “invalidating the perspectives of members of the alternative health community” after a Brown researcher published a study indicating a vaccine is effective and anti-vaxxers went crazy about it on Twitter. Doubtful.
The reason trans activists went nuts is that the study reinforces what plenty of parents, public health experts, and doctors have been saying: Transgenderism looks a lot like a dangerous fad. It’s telling that their response was to demand suppressing the results. It’s also telling that Brown chose to prioritize the unreasonable demands of a tiny minority above the potential well-being of children and the process of scientific inquiry.
How This Study Came About
The study is authored by Lisa Littman, a behavior and social sciences professor at Brown, and an OB-GYN whose publications are mainly in reproductive health and abortion. Here’s the phenomenon that caused her to conduct the study to learn more:
Parents have described clusters of gender dysphoria outbreaks occurring in pre-existing friend groups with multiple or even all members of a friend group becoming gender dysphoric and transgender-identified in a pattern that seems statistically unlikely based on previous research. Parents describe a process of immersion in social media, such as ‘binge-watching’ Youtube transition videos and excessive use of Tumblr, immediately preceding their child becoming gender dysphoric. These descriptions are atypical for the presentation of gender dysphoria described in the research literature…
Littman recruited for the study by posting on the transgender-critical websites 4thWaveNow, Transgender Trend, and YouthTransCriticalProfessionals, seeking parents of adolescents who had quickly come out as transgender. She recruited 256 parents of children ages 11 to 27. They filled out a 90-question survey that took about 30-60 minutes to complete. Eighty percent of their transgender-identifying children were female, and on average the kids came out at age 15.
While the author and any social scientist will tell you the study design has many flaws — self selection and self reporting among them — it is comparable in quality to studies that LGBT activists amplify when it serves their narratives. For example, a recent study that found kids of lesbians had outcomes as good or better than that of married biological parents also had self-selected participants who self-reported outcomes. Even though that had only one-quarter the sample size of Littman’s study, it was widely celebrated and published about in prominent outlets.
Littman found a number of things that make transgender narratives look terrible. For example, she explored the horrifyingly irresponsible lies anonymous internet users frequently offer to confused kids who were apparently free to browse for this information online. The below graph from the study quotes common “advice” transgender activists gave children over these kinds of forums.
It is also notable that 86 percent of the parents who took this survey said they support same-sex relationships and 88 percent “believe trans people deserve the same rights and protections as everyone else.” Similar numbers supported their kids’ decision to adopt opposite-sex hairstyles, clothes, and so forth. Of the children who told their parents they wanted to see a gender therapist, 82 percent took them.
In other words, this is a highly open and supportive sample of parents who are largely fine with cross dressing and non-heterosexuality but not on board with chopping off their daughters’ breasts or giving their sons female hormones. It’s really hard to see how they can be fairly faulted for wanting other options and more thought before rushing to mutilate and sterilize their children. Instead of harming transgender people’s best interests, instead this study amplifies the concerns of people who clearly care deeply about gender dysphoric kids.