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.

Origins

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.

History

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.”

Further resources:

Abigail Shrier

person
Abigail Shrier is a conservative activist, attorney, writer, and contributor to Bari Weiss’ Free Press based in Los Angeles, CA. She is best known as …

Transgender Trend

organization
Transgender Trend (also known as Transgender Trend Ltd) is an anti-trans organization that presents itself as feminist, based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 2015 …

Jeannette Cooper

person
Jeannette Cooper is an anti-trans activist in Chicago, Illinois. She is the parent of a transgender child who lost custody and visitation rights after refusing …

Madeleine Kearns

person
Madeleine “Maddy” Kearns is a Scottish-American journalist working at National Review and as a contributor to The Spectator. She has been publishing with National Review …

J. Michael Bailey

person
J. Michael Bailey (sometimes credited as simply “Michael Bailey”) is an American psychologist and professor in the department of psychology at Northwestern University, a private …

January Littlejohn

person
January Littlejohn is an anti-trans activist who is best known for suing her child's Leon County, Florida middle school school for not informing her that …

Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism

organization
The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR), is a nonprofit primarily dedicated to opposing what it deems to be “critical race theory” in the world …

Lisa Marchiano

person
Lisa Marchiano is an American psychotherapist, author, and one of the co-hosts of podcast This Jungian Life. She is a self-described “Jungian analyst,” and early …

Kenneth Zucker

person
Kenneth Zucker is an American psychologist and the Editor-in-Chief of the Archives of Sexual Behavior (ASB), a sexology journal published by the International Academy of …

Katie Herzog

person
Katie Herzog is an American journalist and podcaster, a former staff writer for Seattle newspaper The Stranger and the co-host of internet drama podcast Blocked …

4thWaveNow

organization
4th Wave Now (stylized 4thWaveNow) began as an anti-trans blog in the radical feminist tradition and became an anti-trans community website. Focusing on the supposed …

Gender Identity Challenge

organization
Gender Identity Challenge, (GENID) also known as Gender Identity Challenge Scandinavia, Gender Identity Challenge Norway, and (currently) Gender Identity Challenge Sweden, is a Sweden-based organization …

Genspect

organization
Genspect is a gender critical organization known for promoting anti-trans causes in many different countries’ legislative processes, and for spearheading or supporting many anti-trans projects …

Stephen B. Levine

person
Stephen Barrett Levine is a psychiatrist and researcher on sexual dysfunction who has been practicing with trans individuals as part of that rubric since the …

Ilya Shapiro

person
Ilya Shapiro is a Canadian attorney and the director of constitutional studies at anti-transgender conservative think tank Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. He is best …

Sasha Ayad

person
Sasha Ayad is an American psychologist who practices conversion therapy and, alongside her close collaborator Stella O’Malley, promotes a disease model of gender identity, gatekeeping …

Stella O'Malley

person
Stella O’Malley is an Irish conversion therapist, anti-transgender activist, and founder or co-founder of multiple anti-transgender groups who has written against conversion therapy bans. She …

Michael Laidlaw

person
Michael Laidlaw is an American endocrinologist, a former member of the conservative group American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) and a member of the defunct Pediatric …

Paul Hruz

person
Paul Hruz is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and a member of The American College …

Lisa Littman

person
Lisa Littman is a physician, researcher, and current President and Director of the Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research (ICGDR). She is also a former …

Stephanie Winn

person
Stephanie Winn is a therapist and anti-trans activist in Portland, Oregon. Winn describes her approach to therapy as being limited to adults and parents, but …

Medical Institute for Sexual Health

organization
The Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MISH) is an abstinence education group in Dallas, Texas. Founded by Joe S. McIlhaney, Jr. in the early 1990s, …

Avi Ring

person
Avi Ring is a former Norwegian academic with ties to various medical misinformation and anti-trans political organizations, including the Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine …

Parents of ROGD Kids

organization
Parents of ROGD Kids (PROGDK) is an anti-transgender activist organization that presents itself as both an advocacy and support group for the non-affirming parents of …

Youth Trans Critical Professionals

organization
Youth Trans Critical Professionals (YTCP) was a blog website founded by psychotherapist Lisa M. Marchiano on March 14, 2016 to gather the perspective of professionals …

Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine

organization
The Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine (SEGM) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt political organization that promotes medical misinformation surrounding gender-affirming care. Many of those associated …

Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research

organization
The Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research (ICGDR) is a group in Providence, Rhode Island founded by Lisa Littman. Its membership suggests close ties to …

Riittakerttu Kaltiala

person
Riitakerttu Kaltiala, also known as Riitakerttu Kaltiala-Heino, is a Finnish professor of adolescent psychiatry who opposes gender affirming care for minors. She is most known …

Bigger Picture Conference

event
The Bigger Picture Conference and the Bigger Picture Continues were events hosted by Genspect, opposing gender affirming care and “gender ideology”. The original was hosted …

William J. Malone

person
William J. Malone is an endocrinologist who is most known for being the founder of the anti-trans Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM). He has …