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Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: A Social Contagion?

Have you ever noticed how societal trends can influence the personal identities of an entire generation?

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

I didn’t mean to lie. In fact, it took me years, well into adulthood, to fully understand what that lie cost my parents–and what actually went down.

Growing up in the sixties, there were two things that made you cool in elementary school: glasses and braces. Granted, it was a fine line. You pretty much had to choose one or the other.

I chose glasses. Ok, so your parents actually had to choose the braces, all coolness aside. But that fact was lost on me at the time.

With no idea which letters to say I couldn’t see, to secure the coolest glasses in school, I pretty much had to guess. Honestly, my memory of the day is a bit foggy. Things moved rather quickly once the doctor informed my mother I was “half-blind.”

That’s when the optometrist dilated my pupils and a specialist was called. Oh the irony–I was suddenly half-blind.

The last thing I remember was my “worried-sick” mother leading me out of the office holding my hand and elbow, slowly guiding me down the few steps to the car.

The next visit to the specialist, was a very truthful visit to say the least.

Until now, my secret was never exposed.

Later, I overheard my parents talking about how “that optometrist” didn’t know what he was talking about. Truth is, he was my hapless fall guy.

Cultural Shifts: From Glasses to Gender

The thing is, kids haven’t changed.

There is still that cool thing everyone wants. That is a common denominator spanning generations. Kids still long, not only to be accepted, but to stand out among their peers. They try on personalities, personas, and identities for size and acceptance. It’s human to want to be seen, heard, and known. Although kids’ needs haven’t changed, the world they are growing up in is vastly different than any generation before them.

Glasses and braces are the norm. Depression, queerness, and trans are not only “in” but wildly celebrated and encouraged.

Don’t be deceived. It is not dismissing the pain of what children and teens are going through, to look closely at what could be the catalyst.

Consider this: 300,000 kids aged 13 to 17 say they are “transgender” according to the estimates put out from UCLA’s Williams Institute.

Why has there been a 1,000% increase among biological males and 4,400% among biological females in the UK, and here in the US the number doubled since 2017?

So what’s changed?

The Role of Social Media in Spreading Contagion

Numerous authorities point to one turning point: The introduction of the iPhone. This single device ushered in the unintended consequences of adolescents with unfettered access to social media combined with unhealthy doses of peer pressure.

Think back to how bullying, anorexia, and cutting has been on the rise since 2007. Now we have the rapid explosion of transgender identification among teens.

A study at Brown University confirmed the obvious.

Before we get too far into the stats, it’s important to note a very telling fact about the study. After it was published the University suffered immense pressure. Critics tried to discredit the observations of parents in the study by saying these parents could be politically biased, or opposed to the idea that their daughter wanted a mastectomy. As you would expect, they pulled the initial study, and published a “revised” version–with a slightly different title but very few changes from the original. 

Nevertheless, the minor revisions didn’t change what those parents observed in their children. In fact, the whole ordeal confirms what parents are up against as they try to get truthful answers.

Rapid-onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD)

The author of the study, Dr. Lisa Littman, coined the phrase “Rapid-onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) to describe the phenomenon she was seeing, “whereby teens and young adults who did not exhibit childhood signs of gender issues appeared to suddenly identify as transgender.” 

The initial study found that the majority of parents (87.7 %) reported their child’s dysphoria developed alongside increased social media and internet use, simultaneously with deepening friendships with peers claiming a trans identity. Many of these children (62.5%) also had a prior mental health diagnosis.

Children who feel like they don’t fit in turn to the internet where evil will gladly hand them the answers that validate their fears and insecurities. You’re not pretty, or a popular girl, inside you’re really a cool guy. Popularity, acceptance, and attention is granted by all. Overwhelming validation comes in follows, likes, and comments from strangers.

Social contagions have been a known phenomenon even before social media. However, with a smartphone in every hand, it can be far more dangerous.

ROGD is not the medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria that typically comes in very young children, these teenage girls are not boys trapped in girls’ bodies. These are hurting girls trying to find their way in a complex social environment riddled with facades.


Spreading a Social Contagion: Chloe Cole’s Experience

Chloe Cole, a 17 year old explained it well in an interview with the New York Post. It started when she was just 11 years old. That’s when she got an Instagram account.

“I started being exposed to a lot of LGBT content and activism,” she said. “I saw how trans people online got an overwhelming amount of support, and the amount of praise they were getting really spoke to me because, at the time, I didn’t really have a lot of friends of my own.”

Social Media, and Social Contagion Aside

What if my parents had taken me to the optometrist, and were told I identified as being vision impaired? And then advised my parents to take me to the specialist who would help me fulfill my true identity.

The specialist would have then permanently damaged my eyes to the degree I had pretended. So that I could have harmony between my mind, emotions, and body. Anything less would be potentially destructive, and could drive me away from them–or worse.

What if they forced my parents against their better judgement, by telling them they had to choose between having a half-blind daughter or a dead one.

Ludicrous you say?

Yes. It is. And yet, it’s happening now. No, not to vision, there’s no political power behind maiming children’s eyesight. As I’m sure you are aware. There is however, in mutilating their reproductive systems and organs, and catastrophically altering their biochemistry.

Understanding Biological and Psychological Realities

The New York Post goes on to explain:

Puberty blockers are commonly administered at the first sign of development to children as young as 9, according to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. [A transgender activist organization.] Testosterone and estrogen injections are frequently prescribed at age 13 or 14… . And serious surgeries like mastectomies are sometimes performed on children as young as 13.

This is a new phenomena. No long-term studies exist on the persistence of ROGD in teen girls and young women. But we are seeing many young women like Chloe, who grow up, look at their mutilated bodies, and ask, “What have I done?”

Have you ever met a girl or boy going through puberty loving what is happening to their bodies and emotions?

Me either.

Abigail Shrier, author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters nailed it when she wrote, “I can’t think of any branch of medicine outside of cosmetic surgery where the patient makes the diagnosis and prescribes the treatment. This doesn’t exist.”

Guiding our Children

Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

The heart is indeed deceitful, as parents we have to guide our children through a culture that is constantly telling them their heart is the only truth.

From a very young age, through adolescence, and even into young adulthood children need support, unwavering love, and strength from their parents. They also need parents who will affirm their true identity as male or female–rooted in their biology– and made in the image of God.

We must give them the foresight they lack.

At least, until they have a fully developed frontal cortex.

The Biological Foundation of Gender and Identity

Did you know, the frontal lobes of the brain don’t fully develop until around age 25? This is where the higher functioning adult is capable of processing, among other critical skills problem solving, judgement, impulse control, and perhaps most importantly, social and sexual behavior.

As parents, we need to understand, what our children are going through does not make them transgender, it makes them a developing human made in the image of God. In that, they are also a target from an enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy them from the inside out.

No surgery, hormones, or roleplaying will give your girl a Y chromosome. Nor will it replace it with an X for your son.

Doctors didn’t assign their gender at birth–they observed it.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27

He knit their sex into every cell of their DNA, long before he or she became “viable.”

What are we going to tell them? I didn’t mean to lie?

In fact it will take them years, well into adulthood, to fully understand what the lies cost their generation–and what actually went down.

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