Australian experts debunk ‘Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria’


transgender pride flag auspath gender dysphoria
Photo: Ink Drop/Adobe Stock

Australia’s peak transgender healthcare body AusPATH has said so-called “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” is not a condition recognised by any major health organisation.

The phrase emerged through a 2018 study by US health researcher Lisa Littman. The study suggests a “social and peer contagion” is causing increasing numbers of young people to identify as transgender, instead of growing acceptance and understanding of gender dysphoria.

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Since then, the term has often been used by media commentators and advocates who oppose trans-affirming healthcare. Littman’s study was widely panned for relying on accounts from parents of trans youth, not the youth themselves.

And in a policy statement this week, the Australian Professional Association for Trans Health (AusPATH) has said “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” is not a health condition recognised by any major professional association.

“The term ‘Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria’ is not, and has never been, a diagnosis or health condition,” the statement reads.

“[It] has been used in a single report describing parental perception of their adolescent’s gender identity without exploration of the gender identity and experiences of the adolescents themselves.”

As a result, AusPATH says, there is “insufficient peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support its implementation and/or use within clinical, community, social and legal settings.”

“Whilst many have a clear picture of their gender from a very early age, for others the journey towards understanding their gender is more prolonged.

“The timing of when an individual discloses their gender to others is a separate consideration and does not necessarily reflect the development of their experienced gender.

“Many do not disclose their identity, rather hiding it for fear of negative reactions from others.

“[This includes] family rejection, discrimination, stigmatisation and social exclusion.”

‘Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria’ study does not meet standard

The AusPATH statement states the research on ROGD lacks the “rigorous processes that are needed when determining diagnosis and treatments.”

“AusPATH affirms the rigorous processes by which diagnoses are developed and applied,” it reads.

“These academic and clinical processes operate within professional medical organisations.

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“[These processes] are developed by expert working groups of scientists, clinicians, and stakeholders over long periods of time, with high levels of scientific scrutiny of the evidence-based literature.

“‘ROGD’ does not meet this standard. Therefore it is not recognised by AusPATH.”

Australian doctors call for inquiry into transgender ‘epidemic’

A group of Australian doctors are lobbying the Morrison Government for an inquiry into “the epidemic of childhood gender dysphoria and the lack of scientific basis for current medical treatment.”

The doctors claim “gender confusion in children” is “chiefly a psychological issue, not biological”. Western Sydney University pediatrics professor John Whitehall is leading the campaign.

Whitehall has not treated any patients with gender dysphoria and has previously described the trans-affirming healthcare model as a “sad, tragic and dangerous fad”.

In the policy statement, AusPATH said they encourage “continued scientific exploration within a culture of academic freedom, not censorship.”

“All transgender, gender diverse and non-binary people are deserving of gender-affirmative, evidence-based care that is underpinned by contemporary, adequately endorsed and community engaged standards of care and clinical guidelines,” AusPATH states.

But AusPATH added they recognise “conversion, reparative and aversion treatments” as harmful. As a result, they oppose “any such efforts to invalidate an individual’s experienced gender.”

“AusPATH supports affirmative responses to young people whereby self-reported gender is respected, and young people are able to safely explore their gender and expression without judgment, pathologisation or predetermined outcome.

“AusPATH urges caution in the use of any term that has the potential to invalidate a person’s gender.”

Australian Psychological Society says no transgender ‘social contagion’

Recently, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) also rejected claims of a “social contagion” turning children transgender as “alarmist and scientifically incorrect”.

“Empirical evidence consistently refutes claims that a child’s or adolescent’s gender can be ‘directed’ by peer group pressure or media influence,” APS Fellow Professor Damien Riggs said.

He warned describing gender dysphoria this way also implied that “such awareness can be ‘corrected’ through psychological, medical or spiritual ‘conversion therapies’.”

The APS opposes “any forms of mental health practice that are not affirming of transgender people.”

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