What’s Driving Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria
According to a study by Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University, 60 percent of parents thought coming out as transgender increased their child’s popularity at school. (Photo: Andrew Francis Wallace/Toronto Star/Getty Images)
Parents used to worry about “peer pressure” encouraging their kids to experiment with alcohol or drugs, or to have sex. Now, they have to worry that it may encourage their kids (especially daughters) to change sex altogether.
If you are a parent of a child or teenager, you owe it to yourself to read Worldmagazine’s latest cover story, which addresses the relatively new but expanding phenomenon of “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” abbreviated “ROGD.”
Advocates for the LGBT movement have long argued that you can diagnose “gender dysphoria” in children who are “consistent, insistent, and persistent” in expressing a discomfort with their birth sex from an early age. Just like we are (wrongly) told about people who identify as homosexual, people who identify as transgender are born that way, we’ve been assured.
Now, however, social trends are evolving so rapidly that even the pseudoscientists of the sexual revolution are having a hard time keeping up. Children (especially girls) who have successfully navigated childhood without a hint of gender confusion are suddenly, shortly after hitting puberty, declaring that they are the opposite sex (or “genderqueer,” or “agender,” or one of dozens of other “gender identities”).
“What’s going on?” parents ask. “Is this a biological issue?” If it were, we wouldn’t expect such declarations to suddenly emerge from half a dozen girls in one friend group at the same time. And we wouldn’t expect them to use almost the exact same language in making such declarations.
Last summer, Dr. Lisa Littman of Brown University published a study based on interviews with over 200 parents of children who had experienced “rapid-onset gender dysphoria.” Most of the parents were not social conservatives (85 percent supported allowing legal civil marriages for same-sex couples), but they were taken aback by what happened to their children.
Two things were common to the parental accounts—neither of which had anything to do with being “born that way.” There was a strong element of “social contagion” at work; and the young people were being coached by websites as to how to demand—and get—puberty-blocking or cross-sex hormones and even, for some, elective double mastectomies.
And in 2019, such teens are not inviting persecution to be “true to themselves”—60 percent of parents thought coming out as transgender increased their child’s popularity at school. “Being trans is a gold star in the eyes of other teens,” wrote one.
The Family Research Council’s Cathy Ruse and Peter Sprigg have previously written about the Littman study, and the transgender backlash it provoked. It now seems clear that among the values parents need to instill in children from an early age is an appreciation for how God made them male or female. And limiting children’s time on the internet and social media is not just to make sure they get their homework done.
For more suggestions, see the Family Research Council’s “A Parent’s Guide to the Transgender Movement in Education.”
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of Family Research Council senior writers.
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