A report from Brown University assistant professor Lisa Littman on the environmental factors influencing the rise of rapid-onset transgender adolescents was published in mid-August. But after public backlash, the university caved — actually retracting the scientific article due to fears the results might offend progressives and the transgender community.
Here’s what happened.
Littman, who works in the behavioral and social sciences area, asked 256 parents of transgender children between the ages of 11 and 27 years old about the various signs their children displayed when they suddenly became interested in gender transitioning, as Science Daily reported.
The results of the online survey, conducted with Survey Monkey, led the researcher to conclude that rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD, “appearing for the first time during puberty or after its completion,” as she noted) was a different phenomenon from gender dysphoria.
“The onset of gender dysphoria seemed to occur in the context of belonging to a peer group where one, multiple, or even all of the friends have become gender dysphoric and transgender-identified during the same time frame,” Littman said — suggesting that peer pressure may play a crucial role in the phenomenon.
“Of the parents who provided information about their child’s friendship group, about a third responded that more than half of the kids in the friendship group became transgender-identified,” she added. “A group with 50 percent of its members’ becoming transgender-identified represents a rate that is more 70 times the expected prevalence for young adults.”
“Parents also report that their children exhibited an increase in social media/internet use prior to disclosure of a transgender identity,” she continued, as noted by Science Daily.
Littman also cited documented evidence that ROGD youths correlate highly (62.5 percent) with adolescents and young adults who display a known mental illness or neurodevelopmental condition.
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“As you may be aware, Brown late last week posted a news announcement regarding research on gender dysphoria published by a faculty member in the School of Public Health,” the statement read.
“In light of questions raised about research design and data collection related to the study on ‘rapid onset gender dysphoria,’ the university determined that removing the article from news distribution is the most responsible course of action,” it continued.
Judging by this scenario, universities aren’t forums for multiple viewpoints or conclusions.
While giving lip service to the importance of academic freedom, the university provided a rationale for its scientific censorship.
“Independent of [our] removal of the article because of concerns about research methodology, the School of Public Health has heard from Brown community members expressing concerns that the conclusions of the study could be used to discredit efforts to support transgender youth and invalidate the perspectives of members of the transgender community,” the university alleged.
“The spirit of free inquiry and scholarly debate is central to academic excellence,” it continued. “At the same time, we believe firmly that it is also incumbent on public health researchers to listen to multiple perspectives and to recognize and articulate the limitations of their work. This process includes acknowledging and considering the perspectives of those who criticize our research methods and conclusions and working to improve future research to address these limitations and better serve public health.”
Judging by this scenario, universities aren’t forums for multiple viewpoints or conclusions; each researcher now appears obligated to clear the findings of his or her research with various interest groups — particularly underserved or at-risk communities — for approval ahead of time.
“This is academic tyranny. End of story,” Ben Shapiro said of the Brown University decision at The Daily Wire.
Research that is backed by data should be discussed, debated, reviewed and/or refuted using facts and science — not subjected to a politically correct litmus test because it may cause others to re-examine their assumptions.