Retraction of ROGD Study: A Case of Liberal Fundamentalism

Jul 21, 2023 | Religious Fundamentalism

liberal fundamentalism

In the annals of scientific research, the pursuit of truth has often been a challenging endeavor, fraught with obstacles and resistance. The retraction of a study titled “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Possible Cases” by Springer’s Archives of Sexual Behavior is a stark reminder of these challenges. The retraction, which followed a wave of backlash from liberal fundamentalists, demonstrates the supremacy of ideological bias on scientific discourse.

The study, conducted by Suzanna Diaz and James Bailey, focused on a phenomenon known as Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD), a term used to describe a sudden or rapid onset of gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults. The paper focuses on a survey of parents who believed their adolescents and young adults (AYA) children had Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD). The study found that these youths were disproportionately (75%) natal female. Pre-existing mental health issues were common, and youths with these issues were more likely than those without them to have socially and medically transitioned. Parents reported that they had often felt pressured by clinicians to affirm their AYA child’s new gender and support their transition. According to the parents, AYA children’s mental health deteriorated considerably after social transition

Note

A more in-depth analysis of the study is appended to this article.

However, the study was met with fierce opposition from certain quarters, leading to its eventual retraction. Zealots, primarily from liberal fundamentalist groups, argued that the study was flawed and harmful. The publisher, succumbing to the pressure, retracted the study, citing concerns over the methodology and the potential for harm to the transgender community.

This incident raises a critical question: Is the pursuit of scientific truth being compromised by ideological bias?

The retraction of the ROGD study is reminiscent of historical instances where religious zealots censored scientific findings that contradicted their beliefs. In this modern-day scenario, the ‘religion’ is not a traditional faith, but rather a set of liberal ideologies with a level of dogmatism akin to religious fundamentalism.

The concern here is not about the validity of the criticisms against the study. Scientific research should always be open to scrutiny and debate. The concern is about the manner in which the criticism was handled. Instead of engaging in a constructive academic debate, the liberal zealots resorted to threats and intimidation, leading to the suppression of a piece of scientific research.

This incident serves as a stark reminder that science should be a field driven by evidence and open debate, not by ideological bias or intimidation. It is crucial for the scientific community and society at large to ensure that ideological beliefs do not stifle scientific inquiry. After all, the pursuit of truth, even when it is uncomfortable or challenges our preconceived notions, is the cornerstone of scientific progress.

In a democratic society, it is essential to uphold the principles of free speech and open debate, especially in the realm of scientific research. The retraction of the ROGD study is a wake-up call for the scientific community to stand up against any form of censorship and to ensure that the pursuit of scientific truth is not compromised by ideological bias.

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

  • The paper discusses the dramatic increase in adolescents and young adults (AYA) experiencing gender dysphoria over the past decade. One explanation proposed is Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD), a socially contagious syndrome.
  • The study is based on a survey of parents who believed their AYA children had ROGD. The results focused on 1655 AYA children whose gender dysphoria reportedly began between ages 11 and 21 years. These youths were disproportionately (75%) natal female.
  • Natal males had later onset (by 1.9 years) than females, and they were much less likely to have taken steps toward social gender transition (65.7% for females versus 28.6% for males).
  • Pre-existing mental health issues were common, and youths with these issues were more likely than those without them to have socially and medically transitioned.
  • Parents reported that they had often felt pressured by clinicians to affirm their AYA child’s new gender and support their transition. According to the parents, AYA children’s mental health deteriorated considerably after social transition.
  • The paper discusses two main hypotheses for the increase in gender dysphoria among adolescents, especially adolescent females. The first hypothesis suggests that there hasn’t been an increase in the actual number of gender dysphoric adolescents, but more of them are being recognized and referred to gender clinics. The second hypothesis, associated with ROGD, proposes that common cultural beliefs, values, and preoccupations cause some adolescents (especially female adolescents) to attribute their social problems, feelings, and mental health issues to gender dysphoria.
  • The paper also discusses the role of parents of gender dysphoric youth in the controversies regarding adolescent-onset gender dysphoria. Parents who believe their children have ROGD are concerned that adolescents with ROGD are at risk of unnecessary, harmful, and irreversible psychological and medical interventions.
  • The survey collected data from parents about the timing and early signs of their children’s gender dysphoria, their mental health and social adjustment prior to the onset of gender dysphoria, and the steps they took towards social and medical transition.
  • The majority of survey respondents were mothers reporting on their own children. The general political/ideological orientation among the parents who responded was largely supportive/progressive.
  • The average age at which the youths began to exhibit signs of gender dysphoria was 14.8 years. The onset was significantly later for natal males than for natal females.
  • The study found that 57% of the youths had a history of mental health issues, with the percentage slightly higher for natal females than for natal males. The most common problem mentioned was anxiety, which was significantly more common among natal females.
  • The study also found that 42.5% of the youths had received a formal psychological diagnosis. The diagnoses were provided mainly by psychiatrists and psychologists.
  • The study found that 72.6% of parents believed that stressful events in their child’s life may have contributed to the onset of gender dysphoria.
  • When asked about their child’s intelligence, parents generally gave high ratings, with only 15.5% of youths rated as average or below average, and 35.6% rated as having exceptionally high intelligence. Natal males were rated slightly higher than natal females.
  • The study found that 89.3% of the youths had “come out” as the “opposite gender or some other gender.” Of these cases, 81.6% of the youths came out as the opposite gender, but in 18.4% another gender was specified, such as “gender fluid,” “non-binary,” and “trans” or “transgender.”
  • The study found that 65.3% of the youths had socially transitioned, with the mean age at social transition reported as 15.4 years. Social transition was much more common among natal females (65.7%) than natal males (28.6%).
  • Steps toward medical transition were unusual. The most frequently reported medical intervention was cross-sex hormones, received by 6.5% of females and 8.4% of males. Surgical transition was especially rare, reported for 1% of males and 0.7% of females.
  • Parents were much more likely to say that the youth had worsened than improved after social transition. The change in the quality of parental relationships (from prior to gender dysphoria to after social transition) was also strongly negative.
  • Parents were asked whether they had felt pressure from a “gender clinic or specialist” to transition their child socially or medically. Of the 390 parents who answered this question, 51.8% answered “yes,” 23.6% were unsure, and 24.6% said “no.”
  • The study examined whether any of the following variables have changed in a consistent manner across the 3 years and 10 months of data collection for this article: natal sex, age of gender dysphoric youths, years with gender dysphoria, mental health issues, and social or medical transition status. The study found that most of these variables have shown statistically significant changes.
  • The study’s results are consistent with the existence of different causes for gender dysphoria in natal females and males, at least in some cases. One kind of gender dysphoria, stemming from autogynephilia—a natal male’s sexual arousal at the idea of being female—occurs only in adolescent and post-adolescent natal males and does not appear to have an analogue among natal females.
  • The study found that youths with a history of mental health issues were especially likely to have taken steps to socially and medically transition. This relationship held even after statistically adjusting for likely confounders (e.g., age). The finding is concerning because youth with mental health issues may be especially likely to lack judgment necessary to make these important, and in the case of medical transition permanent, decisions.
  • The paper acknowledges that the research has potential limitations. The parents who participated in the study were self-selected and recruited via a website for parents who believe their children have ROGD, which could potentially introduce bias. These parents might not be representative of all parents with gender dysphoric adolescents.
  • The paper also acknowledges that the ROGD phenomenon is so new that nothing is known with much confidence regarding this population. It is uncertain why some parents believe their children have ROGD and oppose their gender transition, while other parents reject the ROGD concept and facilitate their children’s gender transition.
  • The study suggests that future research should include parents with differing beliefs and attitudes, and also responses from gender dysphoric adolescents and young adults themselves. Longitudinal data would be especially valuable, as all stakeholders in this controversy ultimately have the same goal: the long-term happiness of gender dysphoric youth.
  • The paper concludes by stating that the data are available upon reasonable request and that the survey instrument is available to those who contact the corresponding author. The study was funded by the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM), which did not play any role in the study itself, including the method of participant recruitment, the analysis of the data, and the interpretation/discussion of the results.