Lisa Littman

This content was last updated Jan. 21, 2024, 9:28 p.m. UTC

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 adjunct professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and assistant professor at Brown University. She is best known for bringing the term Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD), into an academic context with a 2018 paper in PLOS One titled "Parent reports of adolescents and young adults perceived to know signs of a rapid onset of gender dysphoria". This paper popularized a fringe theory, which first originated on the anti-trans 4thWaveNow website, suggesting that gender dysphoria may be caused by social contagion or unrelated mental or emotional health concerns in some trans youth. Littman also published a survey of 100 detransitioners in 2021.

It's important to understand that the research shows that the majority of young people children who are gender dysphoric will most likely grow up to be not transgender, will most likely grow up to be lesbian gay or bisexual adults.

Littman, featured on YouTube, 9 June 2022

Education and Medical Research Career

Littman's CV from Brown University, last updated in 2020, shows her having attended Douglass College, a residential women's college, at Rutgers University (1983-1985), earning a Bachelor of Science in General Science from Brandeis University (1985-1988). She earned her Doctor of Medicine degree from Rutgers Medical School (1988-1992), and attended the Medical College of Pennsylvania, Allegheny General Hospital (1992-1993), Brown University (1993-1996), and earned a Masters in Public Health from Icahn School of Medicine (2005-2007).

She was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventitive Medicine and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (2007-2013), an Adjunct Assistant Professor at in the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (2013-2017), and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the Brown School of Public Health (2018-2020). 

According to her website she is the President and Director of the Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research.

2018 PLOS One Paper

Littman was the sole author of a 2018 paper in PLOS One titled "Parent reports of adolescents and young adults perceived to know signs of a rapid onset of gender dysphoria" which surveyed 256 parents of youth experiencing gender dysphoria. The study was met with criticism for the fact that the surveys used were only posted in anti-trans websites where the theory of ROGD had been disseminated, and only parents were surveyed. Surveys were not distributed anywhere else and trans youth were not surveyed themselves.

Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria is not recognized anywhere as an official diagnosis. Litman has maintained an interest in the theme of her original study and currently runs the Institute for Comprehensive Gender Dysphoria Research. She has given several interviews and presentations on the topic since publishing her study.

In March of 2019 a correction was issued addressing these concerns by elaborating on the reasons behind the methods and removing a few charts that violated copyright rules. The results, however, were unchanged. 

Littman claims her research arose from an observation of a group of youth in Rhode Island that all appeared to have come out as transgender around the same time in a way that had, as far as she understood, was abnormal. Much of her academic and clinical interest is in the topics of gender dysphoria, desistance, and detransition and she is concerned that there are more people for whom dysphoria is temporary, the result of social contagion, or the result of depression or trauma. Despite backlash regarding the questionable methods in her study and a correction issued to the original publication, Littman maintains that the results of her study are valid. She has been interviewed by Megyn Kelly and Quillette magazine, made appearances on the podcast Gender: A Wider Lens, and given presentations and continued to write about gender dysphoria from a perspective questioning the mainstream medical consensus. 

Use of ROGD in Court Cases

Littman's research has been used to make anti-trans arguments in multiple court cases. In a trial challenging Arkansas' Save Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE) law, Act 626 from 2021, prohibiting physicians from providing certain forms of gender-affirming care to minors, it was used in arguments on both sides. Dr. Mark Regnerus from the University of Texas cited the study to argue in favor of the ban and Drs. Jack Turban and Dan Karasic, both Psychiatrists from San Francisco, argued that "rapid-onset gender dysphoria" was an inaccurate term. It was also used in arguments against passing the Equality Act, which passed in 2021. 

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