One of the most harmful pseudoscience anti-trans papers has resurfaced, but in a way that makes it somehow even less reputable than before. The original paper “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Cases” was written by Michael Bailey and regurgitated some well-known false and harmful rhetoric around trans and nonbinary people. It quickly became a bludgeoning tool for anti-trans campaigners to try to bring a vague air of scientific reputability to their toxic claims.
What those campaigners often fail to mention about Bailey’s paper is that after it was published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Archives of Sexual Behavior on March 29, 2023, it was retracted just a short time later on June 14 of the same year. In their retraction note, the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the journal noted that there were issues with consent in the paper as the participants of the survey had not formally agreed to have their data included. The paper also did not have approval from the institutional review board (IRB).
The paper’s title itself highlights the major problem here. The study is not evaluating trans and nonbinary people, or even the anti-trans campaigners’ eternal talking point of detransitioners. It is purely based on the perceptions of trans people’s parents, leading to significant sampling bias. With trans and nonbinary people often not accepted by their families, it’s not surprising that the “researchers” were able to find many “possible cases” of parents claiming that “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” is really what’s to blame.
What is “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD)”?
Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria is a pseudoscientific explanation for the perceived increase in the number of trans and nonbinary people. The concept of ROGD has been widely refuted by the scientific community. However, that does not stop hate groups from trying to peddle the idea anyway.
According to the supporters of the ROGD theory, the rise in recognized cases of gender dysphoria is down to a form of social contagion. The basic idea is that there are now more people being diagnosed with gender dysphoria and identifying as transgender and nonbinary because it is “cool” to do so. Discounting any idea that the individuals are expressing real feelings, ROGD theory dismisses trans identities as a trend, or some form of sexual fetish.
While there has certainly been a significant rise in people coming out as trans, nonbinary, gender-non-conforming, etc., there is also a much simpler explanation. While the ROGD theories claim that these people are “becoming” trans, the truth is that we were always here. The increase in our recognized population is centered around greater knowledge of trans identities and increased social acceptance, not some sort of “social contagion.”
Ultimately, this comes down to the same sort of survivorship bias that we see with things such as autism. Something that was once misunderstood or shunned by society is now more likely to be accepted and understood, and thus seems to be more common. We also see this with the seeming increase in the number of lefthanded people from around 1910 to 1950. People weren’t suddenly becoming lefthanded; the idea of being lefthanded was simply no longer as likely to be demonized and people were less likely to try and beat or train it out of children.
What started as a group chat is now a fully-fledged community.
How Michael Bailey’s ROGD paper has resurfaced in a pathetic way
Some things just won’t die, and this paper represents just one more part of the endless hydra that is the disinformation heap pushed by anti-trans hate groups. Despite the controversy around “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Cases” with its initial publication and the fact that it was retracted by a reputable journal, Bailey has now had his paper republished. However, the new publication does not come from the original journal, or indeed any journal that is notable or reputable.
What the journal is and why it’s sad.
The new home of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria: Parent Reports on 1655 Cases” is The Journal of Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences (JOIBS). The journal’s name might sound reasonable, but there are some distinct red flags here. JOIBS was set up in August 2023, a mere 2 months after the retraction of Michael Bailey’s paper. With only 2 months of publications under their belt, they are far from an established and recognized journal, and when the article was republished by the journal, it was one of only nine articles.
JOIBS claims to be against “publication bias” and is concerned about the “progressive sensibilities” of existing journals. With a spurious use of the Statue of Liberty’s The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, JOIBS touts the fact that it will take “rejected papers that cannot be published elsewhere.” While the journal claims to be courting these rejected papers because they provide valid viewpoints that progressives don’t want published, the publication of Michael Bailey’s ROGD paper makes it clear that they’re just pushing their own agenda, regardless of established issues with the methodology behind such papers.
Contributing to the lack of reliability behind the journal is the matter of its early authors. Those include the founder of the journal and an associate editor. Michael Baliey himself is a founding member of the Society for Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences, the organization behind the journal. That organization has received funding and support from multiple organizations that denigrate diversity efforts and oppose gender-affirming care. For an organization that claims to be opposed to political bias in journals, its journal seems to be driven by a lot of political bias.
Unfortunately, all of this has not stopped the anti-trans groups from spreading the republication of Bailey’s paper. When linking to the article, they conveniently don’t mention the retraction or the nature of the journal that serves as the paper’s new home. It continues to be a dangerous source of disinformation and confirmation bias for transphobes and more people might be suckered in by the trappings of a scientific publication unless they do a much deeper dive.