What is Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD)?
Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) is a term that was developed by obstetrician/gynaecologist turned public health researcher Dr Lisa Littman, whose interest was piqued when, in 2016, she noticed a high number of teenage girls suddenly identifying as transgender on social media in her small home town in Rhode Island. When she began researching this phenomenon, she observed that this trend was echoed around the US and in other Western countries: a sudden surge of adolescents identifying as trans, the majority of them girls. Not only were record numbers of girls presenting to gender clinics – in the UK the number had increased by 4,415 per cent over 10 years – but almost all of them had no prior history of gender dysphoria, hence the additional term “rapid onset”.
The flipping of the trans sex ratio:
Prior to this century, “gender dysphoria” or “gender identity disorder”, as it was previously known, was seen almost exclusively in young males aged 2 to 4. It was estimated to occur in only 0.01% of the population. Girls were so rarely seen before 2012 that there was no mention of them in the medical literature. Dr Littman wondered: What happened to drive the numbers up so phenomenally? Why had the age of onset changed from pre-school–aged to adolescence? And why had the sex ratio flipped from majority male to majority female? Girls now make up 75 per cent of young people seeking treatment and 70 per cent of those seeking surgery.
Influence of Social Media
Another question Dr Littman asked was: Why is this trend surfacing in girls’ friendship groups? As author and journalist Abigail Shrier explains in her 2020 book Irreversible Damage: Teenage Girls and the Transgender Craze, Littman began her own study. By interviewing parents of suddenly gender dysphoric teenage girls, she discovered that 65 per cent of the girls had begun identifying as trans after a long period of exposure to social media. She also reported that the rate of trans identification among some of the girls’ friendship groups was more than 70 times the expected rate of prevalence.
Shrier explains: “Many of the adolescent girls suddenly identifying as transgender seemed to be caught in a ‘craze’—a cultural enthusiasm that spreads like a virus. ‘Craze’ is a technical term in sociology. . . . It applies to Hula-Hoops and Pokémon and all sorts of cultural fads.”
Shrier continues: “Early twentieth-century psychiatrist Lionel Penrose, who introduced the term, explained that an idea that quickly spreads through a community ‘is not necessarily harmful or unreasonable because it is infectious’. What distinguishes a craze—what makes it a ‘crowd mental illness’—is that during its reign ‘an abnormal amount of energy is discharged in one direction and that, as a result, matters more vital to the welfare of the group may be neglected’.”
Other social contagions of this kind include cutting, eating disorders, the “satanic panic’ and “repressed memory” scandals of the 1980s, and, in the late nineteenth century, the epidemic of “hysteria” afflicting young women, documented (and no doubt further spread) by Sigmund Freud. In medieval times, there were dancing crazes, in which the urge to dance till you dropped from exhaustion spread from town to town in Europe. Social contagion is a legacy of our evolutionary heritage – the “monkey see, monkey do” adage has truth to it. Human beings are extraordinarily susceptible to peer influence, and within our species, teenage girls are by far the most vulnerable and also the most likely to spread a contagious idea or behaviour.
Other media influences
There are many influences that can clearly be identified as pushing teens, especially girls, toward adopting a “trans identity”. These include social media – a major factor referred to by many detransitioners – and other media as well, especially those platforms beholden to pro-trans ideology, thanks to the stranglehold of government-sponsored lobby groups like ACON. Among these we can count, in Australia, the ABC and SBS and most of the print media. Therapists, doctors and schools (now that gender-identity ideology and gender confusion is promoted from the earliest age) also spread the belief and, given that affirmation is virtually mandated in many states and countries today or is about to be, the social contagion effect will only be exacerbated.
Trans Activist Backlash
Though ROGD has become part of common parlance, it is important to note it has not, as yet, been formally accepted as a diagnostic term by the medical establishment. Dr Littman has suffered reputational damage and loss of employment as a result of her 2018 scientific study and her suggestion that affirming and rushing ROGD sufferers to medical transition may not be in their best interests. Trans activist groups and their allies in the media have gone to great lengths to “cancel” Dr Littman and her ideas. Nevertheless, the understanding of ROGD remains influential and many prominent academics as well as ordinary people, especially parents, share her concerns.