Reasonable thought

An Ivy League college is embroiled in a row with trans activists over an article which suggested gender dysphoria was spreading among children.

Brown University has removed research from its website which hypothesised that teenagers who came out as transgender were more likely to have friends who were transitioning and were influenced by YouTube videos and social media.

Academics accused the university of bowing to pressure from activists after it removed a news article and link to Lisa Littman’s research. A tweet promoting the paper has also been deleted.

The research concluded “social and peer contagion” was a plausible explanation for “cluster outbreaks” and a high number of cases where the majority of children in a friendship group became “transgender-identified”.

Things do spread among peer groups. Be important to know if being transgender is one of them. One side says this is just bad research. The protestations being a little odd on reading. The other side sways it’s being suppressed as politically incorrect. Dunno the answer to that but it would be good to find out, no?

I mean, we know peer group effects exist, otherwise fashions wouldn’t. But how much?

27 thoughts on “Reasonable thought”

  1. One way of answering research you don’t like is to find the faults in the research or to do your own research to disprove it.

    Another way is to shout loudly and get the research you don’t like banned.

  2. And whilst trying to ban it, accidently lend it credibility as it looks like you can’t refute it scientifically…. Whoops.

  3. Having read the entire article, the only mansion of trans-activists is in the headline and introductory line. The college itself claiming ther action was due to concerns about methodology and complaints from within the university community itself.

    It would seem, on the face of it, that the claim of trans-activist involvement, is unsubstantiated – and inserted either to provide a more interesting headline, and to suggest the university acted under undue rather than academic pressure without any evudence to support that position.

    The later comments in the article by those on differing sides of the trans debate are add no information as to regards the basis for university’s decision and are word padding.

  4. It’s been compared to anorexia. In anorexia a child exposed to and overwhelmed by the complexities of the world, and rebelling against parental discipline, decides to express its individuality in the one area over which it has control – its body.

    That may be psychobabble, or there may be something in it. Certainly the trans thing is beginning to acquire the characteristics of craze. If so, offering minors chemical and even surgical treatment to “change” their sex is abuse worthy of the Catholic Church, and should be as roundly condemned and its perpetrators punished.

  5. I am sure we can trace this transgender thing back to the Hula-Hoop craze. All that thrusting and pelvic movements…

  6. ‘Dunno the answer to that but it would be good to find out, no?’

    No. Let’s return to when transgenderism (sic) wasn’t a thing. Back in the closet, boys . . . uh . . . whatever.

    “Certainly the trans thing is beginning to acquire the characteristics of craze.”


  7. Well, having read the research paper itself, it actually looks perfectly reasonable to me. It acknowledges that the sampling is biased (extremely so!) and it cannot therefore be used as a prevalence study. It in no way disputes the standard theory of gender dysphoria, or its reality. And while some of their observations I don’t think are as conclusive as they think, the evidence of an extreme social-exclusionary culture reported in some these groups does ring alarm bells. Trans or not, it’s not healthy social behaviour being described.

    About the only serious issue I can see with it is that it seems almost entirely the parent’s side of the story, and if teenagers can get together with groups on the internet to concoct a false history and misleading narratives, so can parents. The participants were recruited from websites where these theories had obviously been discussed and refined at length, and if some parents who were strongly anti-trans saw this material on ‘rapid onset gender dysphoria’, they might equally well be motivated to embroider their children’s history to fit. I’m not saying they do – only noting that such a hypothesis proposes exactly the same social mechanisms being at work as are being hypothesised for the kids.

    The other (less serious) issue was the use of the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria to interpret an absence of parentally-observable symptoms as a diagnosis of being non-gender dysphoric. It doesn’t necessarily work that way round. Smart kids can very rapidly pick up on the strong social disapproval of gender-nonconformity and hide what they are very effectively, even from their parents. They’ll only ‘come out’ when they know it’s safe to, with strong social support and protection. (That is to say, the diagnostic criteria probably have a high false-negative rate.) It’s an indication, but far from conclusive.

    It is in essence an unquantified collection of anecdotes, culled from the users of websites that target these sorts of stories. It suggests that an unknown proportion of messed-up but non-TG teens are “jumping on the bandwagon” of transgender acceptance. Given cases of people pretending to be ‘black’ or ‘native American’ when they’re clearly not for similar social reasons, I don’t see why it should be seen as implausible, or necessarily any threat to TG interests. The existence of people like Elizabeth Warren doesn’t mean that there are no genuine ‘native Americans’, and isn’t a justification for treating actual native Americans any differently.

    And the fact that ideologically-driven idiots will predictably misuse a research result is no reason to suppress it.

  8. Philip Scott Thomas

    Littman’s work was specifically looking at “rapid-onset gender dysphoria”, that is, teens and young adults who suddenly, after no previous history, identified as transgender. She wasn’t looking at gender dysphoria generally.

    According to Science Daily, ’21 percent of parents reported their child had one or more friends become transgender-identified at around the same time; 20 percent reported an increase in their child’s social media use around the same time as experiencing gender dysphoria symptoms; and 45 percent reported both.’

    Also, ’62 percent of parents reported their teen or young adult had one or more diagnoses of a psychiatric disorder or neurodevelopmental disability before the onset of gender dysphoria. Forty-eight percent reported that their child had experienced a traumatic or stressful event prior to the onset of their gender dysphoria, including being bullied, sexually assaulted or having their parents get divorced.

    ‘This suggests that the drive to transition expressed by these teens and young adults could be a harmful coping mechanism like drugs, alcohol or cutting, Littman said. ‘

  9. “21 percent of parents reported…”

    Bear in mind these are percentages of the unrepresentative sample specifically sought out as reporting these sort of problems. It’s not ‘21%’ of anything meaningful, as the study itself acknowledges.

  10. How many identify after the sex ed talk in school that identifies transgenderism and subsequent discussions. For example a child coming to terms with being gay may find it easy to confuse liking the same sex as maybe being transgender when combined with tom boy behaviour.
    At the same time through social media they can find more information and peer groups that will affirm their thoughts

  11. “For example a child coming to terms with being gay may find it easy to confuse liking the same sex as maybe being transgender when combined with tom boy behaviour.”

    Why do you speak as if being gay was in some way a different sort of thing to being transgender?

    There are about 20-30 identified anatomical brain structures that differ systematically between the sexes, but each of them has some small percentage of cross-overs. These brain structures will have various functions. There will probably be several for map reading, several for language, one for asking directions, one for sexual attraction, and no doubt a number for all those sex-linked social likes and dislikes that distinguish the sexes.

    Homosexuality, fairly obviously, means having the brain module for sexual attraction ‘meant’ for the opposite sex. Transgenderism is the same phenomenon but with a range of different brain modules being involved. If you believe in homosexuality, that it exists, why do you have such difficulty with transgenderism?

    To answer your question, the WPATH guidelines note that a lot of kids identifying as TG pre-puberty do switch to just being gay post-puberty, but that once they’re adolescents it seems to be very stable.

  12. I didn’t suggest they were different, please don’t put words into my mouth.
    I choose that particular example as it is one I have personal family experience of, a child that came out as gay then when the school had the transgender talk suddenly switched….they may actually be trans, though the fact they decided not to go through with the puberty blocking suggests there is still some doubt.
    I was agreeing that part of the spread is the increased awareness and peer and social media attention.

  13. “I didn’t suggest they were different, please don’t put words into my mouth.”

    Sorry. I’m, so used to people arguing with everything I say, now, I’ve started to assume. It’s a bad habit I need to stop.

    “I was agreeing that part of the spread is the increased awareness and peer and social media attention.”

    That would make sense, don’t you think? If schools provide information on medical conditions, people who hadn’t previously known about them might consider whether they applied to themselves?

  14. Yes and it may well be a valid reason for the increase in people identifying as trans, but all the more reason which research like this should be built on and not buried

  15. Any pre-pubescent child who declared themself trans must be investigate for child abuse and molestation. It’s the most obvious cause.

  16. BigFire, I think you meant “Catholic”. It’s “Any pre-pubescent child who declared themself Catholic…

  17. @ NiV
    Don’t be a twat. I’m pretty sure that I declared that I was an Anglican before I reached puberty – years later, after briefly becoming agnostic due to phoneys I could see through, I came back to my original conclusion.
    The only molestation I suffered as a child was from lower-working class thugs who tried to beat me up.

  18. “I’m pretty sure that I declared that I was an Anglican before I reached puberty”

    What are you talking about?

  19. @ NiV
    Your post said ““Any pre-pubescent child who declared themself Catholic…“”
    You probably think it’s funny but it’s just twattish

  20. “You probably think it’s funny but it’s just twattish”

    It was a reply to the comment above, which said EXACTLY THE SAME THING about TGs and their families. WHICH YOU DIDN’T COMPLAIN ABOUT!

    You only complained about my comment where I substituted a group you feel defensive about for one you’re happy to see hated and persecuted.

    Of course the comment was “twattish”! It was intentionally illustrating the “twattishness” of the comment above, and the “twattishness” of everyone who (predictably) let that one pass but objected the moment exactly the same comment was made about a different group!

    When someone holds a mirror up to your opinions, and you see a “twat”, that’s exactly the message you’re supposed to receive!

    And no, it’s not funny!

  21. @ NiV

    1. I didn’t access this thread until after the comment about which I complained.

    2. Your comment was made during a week when there was a massive media campaign attacking the Pope over claims (some of which may be justified) of a cover-up of sex abuse and WILL be read by some people as implying that incidence of sexual abuse by Catholicpriests is nearer 100% than the identified 0.01% (which is still far too high).

    3. There are far more children who are Catholics than declare themselves TG (even when they don’t understand the question).

    4. Did you read the bit about my being an Anglican? I am defending Roman Catholics, our traditional opposition , not because I feel defensive about them but because they are being unfairly attacked. [I even defend Communists on occasion]

    5. I *thought* that I had made it clear that I have a TG friend so why the hell should you think that I am happy to see them hated and persecuted? Because I say I don’t believe your numbers based on a minority of the references you cite while the majority of *your own* selected references say they are wrong by orders of magnitude?

    6. When have you ever held up a mirror to my opinions? I read your post – which *you* think was a neat response to Big Fire – and saw “twat” – unnecessary twat, attacking an innocent third party.

  22. 1. Which means you must have seen BigFire’s comment, and knew what I was replying to, and why.

    2. Yes, I know! And it was made in a comments area with a similar sort of hostility and similar hysterical accusations about TGs. My point was that the two attitudes mirror one another, and there’s a hell of a lot more justification for it in the case of Catholics than there is for TGs! Don’t you think anyone reading BigFire’s comment might have thought the incidence was 100%, too?

    3. So?

    4. And you didn’t think I wrote what I did because I thought TGs were being unfairly attacked?

    5. Because you sailed past the identical comment made about TGs without blinking.

    6. And you didn’t think the same about BigFire’s comment? You didn’t feel the same urge to comment on it?

    My comment was simply a transparent repetition – a mirror – of the previous comment, with one ‘innocent’ group substituted for another. (I’d argue that the Catholic church is not precisely ‘innocent’ on this – but that’s another topic and not my point. That would break my analogy.) It was obvious that that was what I was doing – since I didn’t even finish off the sentence, you had to have read the previous comment to even understand what I was implying.

    If you had got angry at *both* of them, I’d accept that. But for you to get angry at one and not the other is precisely the point I was making. The comments people here make and give a pass to about TGs are just as “twattish” – but you only seem to perceive it when you see them in the mirror.

    Go through some of the comments made on this site about TGs, and imagine the same comments being made about your friends, your family, your co-religionists – good and innocent people you’ve spent years defending and protecting. Friends who are too frightened – and for good reason! – to go out on their own without people they know there to look after them. Imagine that Catholics were treated the way TGs are treated here, and in society. Can you see yourselves as others see you?

    My comment simply showed you only the briefest glimpse of what that world would look like.

    It wasn’t meant to create that world, or to have a go at Catholics, only to open your eyes to the sort of world that ignoring/tolerating comments like BigFire’s perpetuates.

  23. 5. I didn’t sail past without blinking – I blinked and tried to think how to phrase a response and failed. If I tried it would take half-a-dozen paragraphs. Then I got to your comment and I had a one-sentence answer.
    If you had said “You might as well say ….” I should have had no (well, not much) problem with your comment.
    As an ex-mathematician I feel unable to take short-cuts by ignoring the small (hopefully very small but I don’t know) minority of children whose view of themselves as TG are created by their mothers and I *still* cannot think of a good response to Big Fire. I am not good with words.

  24. “Then I got to your comment and I had a one-sentence answer.”

    The same one-sentence answer would have been sufficient.


    @ BigFire
    Don’t be a twat.

    @ NiV
    Don’t be a twat. I’m pretty sure that I …

    “As an ex-mathematician I feel unable to take short-cuts by ignoring the small (hopefully very small but I don’t know) minority of children whose view of themselves as TG are created by their mothers…”


    How many children whose view of themselves as Catholic is created by their parents? Why does that matter?

    Is there not a (hopefully very small but I don’t know) minority of Catholic children who have been abused?

    So what’s the difference? Why was the (hopefully very small but I don’t know) minority sufficient to prevent comment in one case, but not the other?

    Is your argument that you know it’s small in the case of Catholics but think it’s possible BigFire might be right in the case of TGs? Do you think for one moment BigFire based his accusation on any actual evidence? Do you think I didn’t know that the accusations are equally unfounded, just as you knew it was unfounded in the case of Catholics?

    Sorry to be so bad tempered over this, but it’s an actual problem for TG parents. They’re often advised to maintain a folder of evidence and documents they can grab in emergencies to show that their children are well cared for and genuinely transgender, so that when someone anonymously reports them to social services for ‘abuse’, solely on the basis of the sort of sentiment BigFire expressed, they will be able to survive the subsequent investigation without their children being taken into care.

    From one such parent’s story:

    When they came on a Saturday and said they’d be in touch on Monday, I spent the next 48 hours struggling to breathe, cleaning every surface preparing [for] someone to enter my home and assess my parenting, and scrambling for every document I knew we had that could prove my child is in good health, well cared for, and is, in fact, transgender, all while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy and calm for our family.

    When I had to explain to my children that someone would be coming to the house to look around and ask us questions, I saw the look of terror on my transgender child’s face. Before I even said the words she knew someone had reported us. No matter how much I tried to tell her everything was okay, I still found myself holding her while she cried deeply worried the state would take her away from us because of who she is and our support for her.

    Imagine if every Catholic family had to do that? For real?

    No, it’s not funny when a moral panic based on apalling ignorance and bigotry results in an entire almost entirely innocent community falling under suspicion of abusing their children! Catholics in particular ought to know this, and ought to know that it’s irresponsible and dangerous to start throwing such accusations around without a scrap of evidence, outside of one’s own uninformed prejudices!

    Prefixing it with “You might as well say ….” softens the impact – the shocking realisation that the same thing *can* be done to your own community, too, and that it is a horrific thing to do. BigFire didn’t put any such caveats or uncertainty in – to properly reflect back to you exactly what he/she did, I need to do exactly the same. It’s simply the same comment BigFire made with the target group changed, so you can see exactly what it looks like from the other side. I make no apologies for doing so.

    Hopefully, if I take a break from this for a few days, I’ll regain my usual sunny disposition about it again. For the time being, I’m perhaps a bit too grumpy for this conversation to be a good idea.

  25. @ NiV
    I did say “I’m not good with words” – do I have to be Cicero as well as Pythagoras?
    The difference is that *you* know it is a lie and that I know that you do. I have no data on “Big Fire”.
    I am on your side a bit over half the time when I think that you are right but I do say so when I think you are wrong.

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