Brown University comes under fire for ‘damaging’ study on gender dysphoria in young people

Trans campaigners have criticised Brown University for a study, which suggested that there is a recent “rapid-onset” of gender dysphoria in young people.

The controversial research and a news article promoting it have now been removed from the university’s website, following criticism from LGBT+ activists.

It comprised a 90-question multiple choice survey and concluded that “social and peer contagion” was a “plausible” explanation for what it termed as “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” among adolescents and young adults.

Trans campaigners Fox Fisher (left) and Owl have heavily criticised Brown University’s latest research on gender dysphoria. (theFoxFisher/Twitter)

The study also claimed that there were “cluster outbreaks of transgender-identification” in friendship groups that included trans people.

Fox Fisher, a non-binary trans activist and filmmaker, told PinkNews that it was “alarming and shocking” that the research was published in the first place.

“The term ‘rapid onset dysphoria’ suggests that being trans is a fad and something that kids are being taught,” they said.

“No one can teach or influence anyone to be trans, and access to social support and health care isn’t given lightly.

“Behind it are decades of award winning and quality research, as opposed to questionable and clearly biased junk science such as this one.”

Fisher described the way the research was carried out – by Lisa Littman from Brown University’s Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences – as “fundamentally flawed.”

They added that the study was “based on terminology and concepts that have no place in reality, and anyone that has worked with children or actually spend some meaningful time with trans children, trans teens or trans people would know that.”

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 25: Demonstrators protest for transgender rights on February 25, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were angry with President Donald Trumps recent decision to reverse the Obama-era policy requiring public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Brown University has taken the study off its website.(Getty)

The study – called “rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports” – was based on responses from 256 parents.

Owl, a non-binary trans activist and filmmaker, criticising the research, telling PinkNews: “The intent of this research is not the well-being of young people, but it rather comes from a place of malice and prejudice, and it needs to be condemned for being harmful and damaging to children and the services they desperately need.”

Following the removal of the study from the institute’s website, Bess H. Marcus, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, released a letter responding to the criticism the research had received.

In the letter, Marcus acknowledged that the school had received complaints about the credibility of the study from those in the LGBT+ community.

“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,” she writes.

The dean added: “The School’s commitment to studying and supporting the health and well-being of sexual and gender minority populations is unwavering.”

She also said that “more and better research” is required to “guide advances in the health of the LGBTQ community.”