4thWaveNow

This content was last updated Feb. 19, 2024, 2:33 p.m. UTC

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 medicalization of young children, 4th Wave Now promotes the idea that medical professionals are coercing parents into allowing their children to undergo harmful medical procedures, in spite of research which contradicts this view.

4th Wave Now gained notoriety for being a source used in Lisa Littman's survey of parents that introduced the idea of Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) to the wider public. The theory that transgender identity is caused or largely caused by a social contagion originated not in academia but on 4thWaveNow and similar websites.

Other websites closely affiliated with 4th Wave Now include Transgender Trend and Youth Trans Critical Professionals. 4thWaveNow has also featured posts by fringe researchers Michael Bailey and Ray Blanchard.

[4thWaveNow is] for clear thinkers who aren’t afraid to call the trans agenda what it is: a regressive cult.

From 4thWaveNow, 17 March 2015

Founding

The first post on the 4th Wave Now blog March 17, 2015 was made by founder Denise Caignon in response to her child, Chiara Caignon-Lewis, coming out as a transgender man. Caignon describes initially supporting her daughter, before becoming skeptical after experiences with gender affirming therapists and online information. Health Liberation Now has printed email correspondence from December 2014, when Caignon emailed a prominent detransitioned woman about her daughter.

4th Wave Now quickly became connected to the online gender critical movement. It subsequently hosted the contributions of many figures in that movement, often anonymously.

Caignon’s daughter, Chiara Caignon Lewis, ceased identifying as transgender and became one of the founders of Pique Resilience Project, whose stated goals were to provide information and support to people who desist or detransition. The project’s website remains but does not appear to have been active after 2019.

Caignon describes herself as left-leaning.

Finances

4thWaveNow is not a registered nonprofit, and as such there is no publicly available information about its finances.

History of Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

4th Wave Now is a blog aimed towards parents of transgender children with a focus on supporting parents who don’t wish to affirm their children as trans and fosters an active commenting community. Many of the website’s blog posts are featured around current events, such as positive responses to J.K. Rowling, Twitter controversies involving 4th Wave Now, and the 2017 USPATH conference. Other posts go into detail as to the history of trans rights, such as analyzing the case of David Reimer or objecting to claims that non-binary people were present throughout history. 

The site features many anonymous and non-anonymous contributors such as non-affirming parents of adult trans children. In one popular series of blog posts, anonymous contributors criticized the puberty blocker Lupron as extremely harmful, advocating for it not to be used to treat children with precocious puberty or gender dysphoria.

Michael Bailey and Ray Blanchard have also authored a series of posts on the website discussing the fringe theory of autogynephilia.

The website has also been featured in court documents and used to justify transphobic arguments in the state of Arkansas, up to the Supreme Court. 4th Wave Now has been featured in right-wing news outlets, and even in the Washington Post.

Lisa Littman & ROGD

4th Wave Now is believed to contain the instance of the claim that ‘social contagion’ causes young people to become transgender, which has also been referred to as Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, or ROGD. This first reference was in a comment by community member “skepticaltherapist” on February 20, 2016. (It has been speculated, though not confirmed, that this may have been a handle used by Lisa Marchiano on the blog.) Caignon followed up on the comment with a full-fledged blog post on February 29, 2016, in which she began to popularize the phrase. 

4th Wave Now was also the first website where Lisa Littman began recruiting participants for her article “Parent reports of adolescents and young adults perceived to show signs of a rapid onset of gender dysphoria.” This survey of the beliefs of parents who frequented anti-trans websites served to further popularize the social contagion hypothesis and lend mainstream credibility to the idea in the wider public. Experts in gender dysphoria among young people have agreed there is no evidence for this idea.

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