Appeals to “science” have gained independent status in our cultural mind. At their best, our experts enable our modern way of life. At their worst, they are the witch doctors of western civilization, accessing secret knowledge and handing down dictums from on high.
Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a study informing us that it had debunked the ‘social contagion’ theory of transgenderism’s spread, also known as “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria.” The study’s findings were immediately picked up by legacy news outlets.
NBC confidently reported that “‘social contagion’ is not driving an increasing number of adolescents to come out as transgender,” while The Hill went as far as to say, “Transgender adolescents do not identify as transgender because they are influenced by external factors like social media or their peers.”
The study then concluded in its findings that the ‘social contagion’ theory “should not be used to argue against the provision of gender-affirming medical care for TGD [transgender and gender diverse] adolescents.”
But how were these “findings” discovered?
Researchers used a tax-funded grant from The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to compare numbers from 16 states included in the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) in 2017 and 2019. In 2017, 2.4% of adolescents identified themselves as transgender. In 2019, these 16 states saw a slight drop to 1.6%, the majority of which were born male. The study concluded that this disproves the idea that transgenderism is spreading, particularly among adolescent girls.
It should be noted that the top-line numbers only included those who checked “yes” for “are you transgender?” As can be seen from the CDC’s additional 2017 report, which outlined more specific questionnaire data, 94.4% of students answered, “No I am not transgender.” Others either answered, “I am not sure” or “I do not know what this question is asking.” However, even if we only use the 2.4% and 1.6% figures, the problem with the conclusion is much deeper.
In short, according to these taxpayer-funded experts, a decrease in the percentage of trans teens in these states from 2017-2019 proves there is no social spread.
Pro-trans researchers are not known for intellectual consistency. Are we to presume that, based on the logic used, an increase in trans identification would prove social contagion? Does the pre-2017 world count?
In 2003, the trans population in Germany was estimated at between 1/42,000 to 1/48,000 inhabitants. In 2009, the Gender Identity Research and Education Society issued a national report on the transgender population in the UK, remarking on the steep rise from about 8/100,000 in 1998 (0.008%) to about 20/100,000 in 2009 (0.02%). The numbers in the US are similar.
In 2016, the NIH estimated that the proportion of trans people had quadrupled over the past decade. The national average at the time was estimated at 0.39%. It should be noted that the 2017 rate reported for high schoolers (2.4%) was already six times higher than the national average.
According to our experts, when the percentage of trans teens doubles in a few years, this has nothing to tell us about social contagion. On the other hand, a short-term 30% decrease (2.4% to 1.6%) in a sampling of high school students in 16 states over two years definitively debunks all those conspiracy theories about transgenderism’s spread.
But the massive increase in trans identification is not the only problem. If smallpox numbers in a country remained relatively steady (let’s say exactly 1% of the population got sick every year), could we safely conclude that smallpox is not contagious? Certainly not. To determine that, we would need to look at the local level.
If transgenderism was spreading by social contagion, it would be more common in some areas and among some groups than elsewhere. We might expect the 2022 transgender population update to report that 3% of 13- to 17-year-olds in New York identify as transgender, while just 0.6% do so in Wyoming. We might even be able to find discussions from 13 years ago about the “buddy effect” and the “uneven geographic dispersion of people with gender dysphoria.” All of this would, of course, make it difficult to ‘debunk’ the social contagion theory.
This is not the first time pro-trans studies have tried to attack the social contagion data.
Just last year, The Journal of Pediatrics published a study debunking a previous study that used parental reporting to describe “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria.” These parents explained that their children (mostly teenage girls) had never exhibited signs of gender dysphoria until suddenly coming out as trans along with their peer group. Researchers from “Trans Youth CAN!” responded by polling 173 children younger than 16 who were receiving treatment at Canadian gender clinics about when they first found out they were trans.
They concluded that there is no evidence for “rapid onset” gender dysphoria since, unsurprisingly, “I just found out” wasn’t the most common answer. The immense social pressure to say “I’ve always felt this way” was not considered by the “Trans Youth CAN!” researchers.
As mentioned, such “studies” are explicitly aimed at justifying access to so-called “gender-affirming” medical treatment for minors. But this is where bad science takes a turn from the laughable to the dark. The same sleight-of-hand techniques are routinely used by researchers to argue that such treatments reduce the risk of suicide. In fact, the opposite is true. The result of nearly every “gender-affirming” therapy is an increase in the long-term suicide attempt rate.
As the 2014 National Transgender Discrimination Survey found, those who “wanted” hormone treatment, but had not had it, had a lifetime suicide attempt rate of 40%. Those who “have had it” had a suicide attempt rate of 45%. In every category, those with the lowest suicide attempt rate were those who “do not want it,” i.e., those who had not fully embraced medical transition. The 2014 study’s “Do Not Want It” data was promptly removed (not replaced — removed) by a 2019 update of the same study.
Perhaps all this can be explained. After all, if our experts believe that “truth” itself is an oppressive societal construct, that explains their strict and assiduous avoidance of anything that resembles it.
James Beevers is a theology student who holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Bibelseminar Bonn (Germany) and Westminster Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing Ph.D. research in New Testament Studies at Westminster Theological Seminary.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.