“Rapid onset gender dysphoria” proponents tip their hand with transphobic “mutilation” rhetoric

Zinnia Jones

Proponents of the “rapid onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) hoax diagnosis often walk a fine line when it comes to distinguishing this “new” condition from “classical” gender dysphoria. Many make a perfunctory gesture toward supporting gender-affirmative care and transition treatment for those who do have gender dysphoria and not “ROGD”. Lisa Marchiano, a Jungian psychoanalyst and key figure in promoting this condition, states:

I believe that transition may be a viable and even necessary option for some people. I support the right of adults to choose this option with appropriate therapeutic care and support.

And “Parents of ROGD Kids” says of healthcare providers offering transition treatments: “if misdiagnosed, they are inflicting grievous physical and psychological trauma on their patients.”

However, these statements of putative acceptance of trans people are undermined by ROGD proponents’ tendency to echo some of the most hostile rhetoric historically used to attack transition care altogether.

“Parents of ROGD Kids” claims to be “horrified at the growing number of young people whose bodies have been disfigured, their physical and mental health destroyed by transitioning”. Elsewhere, they allege:

Accepting and affirming an individual’s self-assessment as the opposite sex has not been proven to relieve their dysphoria.  It only prolongs their suffering, as the true underlying issues go unaddressed.

It also exposes them to further trauma, as they are subjected to increasingly drastic medical interventions in futile attempts to alleviate their dysphoria by aligning their physical bodies more closely with their imagined sex.

They also claim – falsely – that “there are no long term outcome studies that provide conclusive evidence that individuals with gender dysphoria who transition are happier and healthier than those who don’t.” J. Michael Bailey, a sexologist who endorses the ROGD hoax, has expressed concern over “permanent and needless mutilation, not to mention cessation of fertility”. And it’s not especially difficult to find proponents of ROGD on social media describing transition procedures as “medicalised disfigurement”.

The problem is that the characterization of this treatment as “mutilation” and “disfigurement” has never been limited to a new condition developed by hoaxers in 2016. This slurring of proven beneficial care has been a depressing constant in public discourse since medical transition procedures and protocols were first formalized in the mid-20th century. These are choices of language that are intentionally deployed to depict transitioning as regrettable at best, and an unalloyed evil at worst. 

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  • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  • Baker, D., Hunter, E., Lawrence, E., Medford, N., Patel, M., Senior, C., . . . David, A. S. (2003). Depersonalisation disorder: clinical features of 204 cases. British Journal of Psychiatry, 182(5), 428–433.

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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