September 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The author of a new study on transgender teens that’s been censored by Brown University is responding to critics of her work, which suggests gender-confused teens are significantly influenced by outside pressure to “identify” as a different sex.
Last week, LifeSiteNews reported that the study, authored by Brown University behavioral scientist Lisa Littman and published last month in the Public Library of Science’s journal PLOS One, found that 87% of the teens reviewed (via questionnaires to 256 parents) belonged to a friend group characterized by some degree of “social influence” on gender, such as other gender-confused teens; and that 63% of the teens had been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder or neurodevelopmental disability before deciding they were a different gender.
Littman’s findings suggest that what she calls “rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD)” is an effort to conform to one’s social circle, rather than an act of individuality or “authenticity.”
“To be heterosexual, comfortable with the gender you were assigned at birth, and non-minority places you in the ‘most evil’ of categories within this group of friends,” one parent said. “[My child] couldn’t face the stigma of going back to school and being branded as fake or phony [...] or worse, a traitor or some kind of betrayer,” another revealed.
Following publication of that report, Zinnia Jones of the Hazel Trans Research Collective contacted LifeSiteNews to share an article critical of the study. Jones is a radical trans activist who has openly fantasized about “roving gangs of trans women beating the shit out of transphobes,” and written tips for teenagers seeking cheap alternatives to standard puberty blockers.
Jones accused Littman of citing a vague summary of her work as an example of “vague and nonspecific” gender dysphoria symptoms, rather than grappling with Jones’ more detailed treatment of the subject. “The author either neglected or refused to acknowledge this, and does not appear to realize this is a real condition experienced by trans people,” she wrote.
“There is an abundance of advice given to youth exploring gender on Tumblr and other social media sites, samples of which I excerpted in Table 1 of my study as background information. No specific source of advice was defined as a singular cause for all gender dysphoria nor was the sampling presented as a comprehensive list,” Littman responded in a statement to LifeSiteNews.
“Regardless, teens who are experiencing concerning symptoms (including but not limited to symptoms of depersonalization) deserve to be evaluated by trained mental health professionals rather than relying on advice from Tumblr, online blogs or other social media sites,” she continued.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Littman’s critics also say her findings are skewed because she recruited participating parents from three websites – 4thWaveNow, Transgender Trend, and Youth Trans Critical Professionals – where parents and professionals gather to discuss their concerns with such issues. Her study acknowledged that findings “may be different from populations viewing websites that promote a ‘gender-affirming’ perspective,” but Littman maintains “it’s not uncommon” to begin such efforts with targeted recruiting. The study also notes that it accounted for this concern by also asking respondents about their broader LGBT views.
“[R]espondents were asked specifically whether they believe that transgender people deserve the same rights and protections as others and 88.2% of respondents gave affirmative answers to the question which is consistent with the 89% affirmative response reported in a US national poll,” it says. “Therefore, there is no evidence that the study sample is appreciably different in their support of the rights of transgender people than the general American population.”
86% also said they favor legal recognition of same-sex “marriage,” further undermining suspicion that these parents were predisposed to give “anti-LGBT answers.” Despite their politics, 77% of the parents believed their children’s declarations of having a different “true” gender were wrong.
Nevertheless, pro-LGBT voices successfully pressured Brown to delete the study from its website, just five days after its publication. The Wall Street Journal adds that PLOS One editor-in-chief Joerg Heber has announced it will be subjecting the study to “further expert assessment,” as well.
Jeffrey Flier, the former dean of Harvard Medical School, writes at Quillette that he has “never once seen a comparable reaction from a journal within days of publishing a paper that the journal already had subjected to peer review, accepted and published,” and that Brown’s quick abandonment of Littman “raises serious concerns about the ability of all academics to conduct research on controversial topics.”
“The right of university faculty to pursue questions that interest them, free from control or harassment, is a core element of academic freedom,” he argues. While it is “well and proper” to scrutinize papers after their publication, “that is not what has happened in regard to Dr Littman, whose critics have not performed any systematic analysis of her findings, but seem principally motivated by ideological opposition to her conclusions.”
“For centuries, universities struggled to protect the ability of their faculties to conduct research seen as offensive—whether by the church, the state, or other powerful influences,” Flier concluded. Brown’s “leaders must not allow any single politically charged issue—including gender dysphoria—from becoming the thin edge of a wedge that gradually undermines our precious, hard-won academic freedoms.”