Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

This content was last updated Sept. 30, 2023, 12:39 a.m. UTC

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) is a fringe hypothesis that suggests experiencing gender dysphoria and identifying as transgender may be considered a socially contagious syndrome.

Proponents of ROGD suggest that its most common sufferers are young cisgender girls who have been coerced into believing that they are transgender men, typically by online peers on social media platforms like Twitter and Tumblr.

Despite a lack of evidence that ROGD exists as a distinct condition or that gender dysphoria is mediated by social factors as proponents suggest, American lawmakers continue to cite the supposed phenomenon as justification for increasingly harsh laws against transgender people. The hypothesis has no mainstream support in the field, and dozens of professional organizations are on record as saying it is unsupported in the research.


The earliest suggestion of gender dysphoria as a social contagion was made by user skepticaltherapist in a comment on the anti-transgender blog 4thWaveNow. There is evidence to suggest that skepticatherapist may have been the pseudonym of Jungian psychoanalyst and anti-transgender activist Lisa Marchiano, who in 2016 wrote about ROGD on her now defunct blog and in 2017 published the first academic paper to use the term Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria.


Gender dysphoria as a social contagion continued to be promoted by 4thWaveNow, anti-transgender blog TransgenderTrends.com, and Marchiano’s anonymous anti-transgender blog, youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org. The anonymous blog was later cited in a lengthy press release about gender dysphoria as a social contagion by anti-transgender fringe pediatrics group American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds).

In July of 2016, all three websites posted requests for respondents to a survey for an upcoming academic paper by Lisa Littman. The paper was published in August of 2018 in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Public Library of Science. Concerns with the content of the paper and the pre-publication editorial process led to the correction and republication of the article in March of 2019.

In December of 2017, the website Parents of ROGD Kids (PROGDK) was published to promote the work of anti-transgender healthcare professionals like Littman, Marchiano, J. Michael Bailey, and Ray Blanchard, creator of pop psychology theory autogynephilia.

In September of 2018, leading transgender health organization World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) published a statement dismissing the validity of ROGD as a diagnosis. The American Psychological Association and sixty-one other healthcare providers’ organizations published a similar statement disavowing ROGD in 2021.

In May of 2021, transgender writer and researcher Zinnia Jones published an article in which she discusses multiple peer-reviewed studies that suggest most transgender children realize they are transgender before coming out to their parents, debunking a significant component of ROGD theory.

In March of 2023, J. Michael Bailey published a paper alongside “Suzanna Diaz,” the alias of a parent who has no background in science or research, about ROGD. The paper acquired its data from users at PROGDK. An open letter was written to the publishing journal, Archives of Sexual Behavior, with one hundred signatories and the support of multiple LGBTQ+ organizations expressing dissatisfaction with the work of Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Zucker. The paper was retracted in May of 2023, allegedly because Diaz does not belong to an academic or medical institution, and was thus required to receive Institutional Review Board approval before publication. Bailey, however, stated that the paper was a success, having been downloaded 38,000 times. He alleges that it was retracted due to LGBTQ+ activists “taking over academia.”

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