On the Science of Changing Sex

ROGD Redux

Posted in Editorial, Science Criticism by Kay Brown on April 22, 2019

female_scientistA paper published online today in the Archives of Sexual Behavior by a young transwoman, Arjee Restar, tears apart the Littman paper purporting to be about a phenomena called Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria which Littman claims is an example of “social contagion” in which teenagers, most of whom are female bodied, develop gender dysphoria purely because of exposure to what many are calling “transgender ideology”.  Restar’s paper admirably questions Littman’s paper on it’s poor methodology which failed to follow good science practices.  The critique shows that rather than testing a hypothesis, Littman’s entire study was designed to produce a predetermined result and pass it off as science, as Restar explains,

“Participants recruited into a study should never be selected based on a researcher’s a priori knowledge of how the results of the paper would appear and confirm their premise. As noted earlier, Littman recruited specifically on three Web sites solely because these venues are attracting a specific demographic group of parental-respondents who are already subscribed into, are selecting into (i.e., self-selection bias), are promoting the concept of “ROGD,” and agree via consent form with the premise of the study. By choosing a specific population of interest and selecting cases and venues where cases can be found, an a priori motivation that favors the investigator’s premise and specific perspectives is likely to be gathered from the sample and thus likely contributing to systemically biased results.”

Fortunately, both Littman’s revised paper and Restar’s critique are openly published, not behind a paywall, so anyone can read both and come to their own conclusions.  However, I do have a few of my own comments to make here.

First, the idea of social contagion of minority human sexual orientation has previously been put forward.  In fact, it became a center piece of homophobic political activism that used such slogans as “Save Our Children” from the “homosexual agenda” of “recruitment”.  That Littman and her ilk recycle this thoroughly debunked trope in a new guise should be no surprise (ref: Brakefield, 2014).

Second, the idea of social contagion (ROGD as a form of “conversion disorder”) focused on girls smacks of the misogynist concept of “hysterical women” found in sexist medical literature of the past.  It’s use here as a “just so” explanation is one that transphobic parents would happily cling to in their denialism.

Third, I’ve already shared my thoughts on transphobic parental denialism in a previous essay.

Finally, I look forward to seeing more of Ms. Restar’s academic work in the future.

References:

Restar, A. J., “Methodological Critique of Littman’s (2018) Parental-Respondents Accounts of “Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria” “, Archives of Sexual Behavior (2019)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-1453-2

Littman, L. L. “Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports.” PLoS ONE, 13(8) (2018)
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0202330

Brakefield, T. A., et al, “Same-sex sexual attraction does not spread in adolescent social networks.” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2014)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-013-0142-9

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_hysteria

Further Reading:

Essay on ROGD and Parental Denialism

Further External Reading:

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/amphtml/shannonkeating/rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria-flawed-methods-transgender

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