Major Journal Retracts Study On ‘Socially Contagious’ Transgenderism Among Kids Following Activist Threats

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Laurel Duggan Social Issues and Culture Reporter
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  • Springer’s Archives of Sexual Behavior is retracting a study on rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) after transgender activists threatened to stop working with the publication in an open letter; ROGD describes the sudden adoption of a transgender identity by youth, typically in response to peer influence. 
  • The journal claimed the retraction was due to issues with informed consent, but Dr. Michael Bailey, one of the study’s authors, has disputed this explanation and argued the journal is caving to the demands of activists who object to his conclusions about ROGD. 
  • “What is entirely obvious, based on the people who spearheaded the attack, is that suppressing the idea of ROGD was the primary goal,” Bailey told the DCNF

Springer’s Archives of Sexual Behavior is retracting a major academic paper that explores the “socially contagious” aspect of youth transgenderism following threats from transgender activists, according to documents reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The paper, titled “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Possible Cases,” found that children who suddenly adopted transgender identities in adolescence skewed heavily female and frequently had preexisting mental health issues. The journal has claimed the retraction is due to researchers’ failure to obtain written informed consent from survey participants, but Dr. Michael Bailey, one of the study’s authors, disputes this explanation and believes the journal is caving to pressure from activists.

“These were parents concerned about their children, concerned enough to take a not-brief survey about the issues. Why would they do this if they didn’t think the information would somehow be made available?” Bailey told the DCNF. He shared a screenshot of the survey which told parents explicitly that their answers would be published and used for research. (RELATED: ‘Paranoia’: Transgender Gun Community Features Fears Of ‘Genocide’, Mental Illness)

“Thank you for taking the time to complete our survey,” the survey read, according to the screenshot. “Your answers will help us gain a better understanding of which children are more vulnerable to Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria and what we can do to help them better. We will publish our data on our website when we have a large enough sample to make our results significant.”

Rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD), a term coined by Dr. Lisa Littman in 2018, describes the surge in youth identifying as transgender without prior histories of gender dysphoria and suggests the phenomenon is driven by social influence. Littman’s initial article was subject to a firestorm of criticism from transgender activists, who demanded the journal PLOS ONE take the unusual step of putting it through a post-publication review.

The paper found evidence that youth experiencing ROGD were involved in transgender social media groups and peer groups. It also found that youth with mental health problems were more likely to have socially and medically transitioned than those without.

The belief that gender identity is innate and not a mere product of social influence is core to transgender ideology, and it justifies the administration of irreversible medical interventions to alleviate one’s sense of gender incongruence. The ROGD concept challenges the idea that adolescents should undergo biomedical procedures to present as the opposite sex by suggesting many youth who identify as transgender are experiencing a temporary, socially influenced phenomenon rather than expressing a deeply held and permanent gender identity.

“There has been an explosion of gender dysphoria among adolescent girls in recent years,” Bailey recently summarized in UnHerd. “Rapid onset gender dysphoria’ (ROGD) suggests that, for poorly understood reasons, adolescent and young adult females are susceptible to a socially contagious false belief that they are transgender. Especially susceptible are girls with pre-existing emotional problems who have been exposed to the ideas that transgender people are common, and that an underlying and unrecognized transgender identity can cause emotional problems only curable by gender transition.”

Hundreds of individuals and five transgender organizations signed a letter May 5 demanding that Springer retract the article and fire Dr. Kenneth Zucker, the editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, and signatories threatened not to work with the journal until both of those actions were taken. One issue raised in the letter, that researchers didn’t obtain informed written consent, was later raised by the journal in communications with Bailey, according to an email reviewed by the DCNF.

“We will no longer submit to the journal, act as peer reviewers, or serve in an editorial capacity until Dr. Zucker is replaced with an editor who has a demonstrated record of integrity on LGBTQ+ matters and, especially, trans matters,” the letter read.

“What is entirely obvious, based on the people who spearheaded the attack, is that suppressing the idea of ROGD was the primary goal,” Bailey told the DCNF.

FAIR In Medicine, an organization that promotes civil liberties in the medical field, expressed support for the paper’s initial publication in a May 5 letter to the journal.

“Unfortunately, this is not the first time journals and researchers who dare explore the subject of ROGD have been targeted for cancellation. What is currently happening to the Diaz and Bailey paper bears a marked resemblance to the prior attempt to silence the original “ROGD” paper by Lisa Littman, MD. Under tremendous pressure from critics, PLOS ONE subjected the paper to a second round of peer review post-publication. The paper withstood this unprecedented scrutiny, with its results unchanged,” the letter read.

“We fear that just like in the case of the original ROGD paper, the demands for retraction and sanctioning of Dr. Zucker, the Editor-in-Chief are principally motivated by the ideological opposition to Diaz and Bailey’s conclusion,” it said.

Springer did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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Laurel Duggan