A controversial study on transgenderism is now being suppressed by Brown University.
The results of the recently released study, a culmination of research performed by assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences Lisa Littman, indicates that the pubescent onset of gender dysphoria may be due more to peer pressure and/or internet influence than to biological factors.
Littman’s research on “rapid onset gender dysphoria” was published last month in the highly regarded, peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE. Parental observations served as the primary basis for the study, which explored situations where “one, multiple, or even all of the friends [in a friend group] have become gender dysphoric and transgender-identified during the same timeframe.”
Since the publication of the study, Brown has removed news about Littman’s research from its website.
The study focused on adolescents and young people, primarily girls, who had not previously expressed discomfort with their bodies prior to announcing to their parents that they were transgender.
Littman’s research explores the connection between these children, and whether or not watching YouTube sex-change videos, hanging out in online venues such as Reddit or Tumblr, and spending time with other transgender young people contributed to a sudden decision to adopt an alternate sexual identity. The results seem to indicate that this is, indeed, the case--over 60% of parents surveyed reported that YouTube and Tumblr influenced their kids to be transgender, and upwards of 40% of parents believe that friends both in real life and online also played a role.
Other contributing factors were explored in the study as well. Trauma and psychiatric distress, for example, were found by Littman to contribute to the phenomenon of rapid onset gender dysphoria. One case in particular described a 16-year-old girl, who is reported to have been happy before she was raped. But afterwards, she was said to have become fearful and withdrawn, eventually telling her parents that she was transgender and wanting to transition.
Yet another case detailed a girl who, at 12 years old, had been bullied for going through puberty early. Her parents reported that “she felt fat and hated her breasts”, and that when she went online she learned that hating your breasts is a sign of being transgender.
Littman also proposed the additional hypothesis that, for some, transgenderism may be a “maladaptive coping mechanism.” Comparing rapid onset gender dysphoria to an eating disorder, the Brown assistant professor suggested that the “drive to transition”may actually be a way “to avoid feeling other strong or negative emotions.”
Brown University claims that the reason they scrubbed their own faculty member’s research from their website was because of “concerns about research methodology”, citing the fact that the study was based solely on parental observations and reporting. However, the results of the study also appear to have contributed to the decision. The university’s dean of the School of Public Health, Bess H. Marcus, also admitted that Littman’s results “could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community.”
It should be noted that of Littman’s parent survey respondents, 85.9% reported supporting same-sex marriage, and 88.2% said they believed transgender individuals ought to have the same rights and protections as everyone else.
Although both transgender activists and Brown University want to discredit Littman’s research, the professor also has her share of supporters. As of Wednesday afternoon, a petition in support of the study had garnered over 4,000 signatures, urging Brown to resist “ideologically based attempts to squelch controversial research evidence.”