“Rapid onset gender dysphoria” and the demand for transgender isolation

Zinnia Jones

An especially disturbing aspect of the “rapid onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) hoax diagnosis is what the proposed “social contagion” hypothesis implies for the wider transgender community. ROGD proponents frequently attribute this condition to adolescents spending time online seeking out resources and support regarding gender identity:

Thousands of home-made videos on sites such as YouTube chronicle the gender transitions of teenagers. These teens show off their new-found muscles or facial hair. The Tumblr blog Fuck Yeah FTMs  features photo after photo of young FtMs celebrating the changes wrought by testosterone. “I finally have freedom!” posters boast under photographs of their scarred chests post mastectomy. “I’m no longer pre-T!” boasts another under a video of someone injecting testosterone. Almost all of these posters are under 25 years of age. According to Jen Jack Gieseking, a New York academic and researcher who was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 last May, “There really isn’t a trans person I’ve met under the age of 30 who hasn’t been on Tumblr.”

This is first and foremost a plainly spurious notion of what “causes” gender dysphoria. Curiosity, exploration, and questioning about one’s gender identity is quite frequently followed by seeking out resources that can aid in understanding transness and clarifying its possible role in one’s life. This does not therefore mean that having learned about transness must have “made” a person trans, nor does it mean that in the absence of these resources, such a person would not be trans.

But the use of this flimsy argument to dismiss some youths’ transness as not being genuine is only one side of the equation. This is argument that is not limited to concern for potentially misguided cis people. It openly depicts supportive communities and resources for trans people – even those people ROGD proponents might theoretically accept as being “genuinely trans” – as being inherently dangerous by their very existence. 

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About Zinnia Jones

My work focuses on insights to be found across transgender sociology, public health, psychiatry, history of medicine, cognitive science, the social processes of science, transgender feminism, and human rights, taking an analytic approach that intersects these many perspectives and is guided by the lived experiences of transgender people. I live in Orlando with my family, and work mainly in technical writing.
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