Does ‘rapid-onset gender dysphoria’ exist?

Aug 26, 2018 by

by Michael Cook, Bio Edge:

Another ethical fight is brewing on the transgender front. Lisa Littman, of the Brown University School of Public Health, has published the first serious study of “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) in PLOS One. This is a condition in which gender dysphoria suddenly appears in puberty or even after its completion. This runs contrary to the current model of gender dysphoria, which assumes that it is present from a very early age. Unsurprisingly, its opponents claim that ROGD does not exist and that Littman’s research is “biased junk science”.

Dr Littman attributes ROGD, in part, to social contagion, as it appears to occur in clusters and is associated with depressive symptoms, such as disordered eating, aggression, bullying, and drug use.

Ethical problems emerge in treatment for ROGD, as they do for early-onset gender dysphoria. But in the case of very young children, psychologists assume that the condition is present from birth and fundamentally immutable. In the case of ROGD, there is a strong possibility that it is a passing fancy.

More than 80% of parents said that their child’s announcement of being transgender came “out of the blue without significant prior evidence of gender dysphoria.” Shouldn’t their testimony be taken into account? Some psychologists discount input from parents and treat the adolescents as if they had standard gender dysphoria. This seems unwise, suggests Dr Littman, as many websites give advice to adolescents about how to fake their symptoms and how to construct a narrative consistent with life-long gender dysphoria.

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