Controversy intensifies over Littman ROGD study; petition now signed by 3700, no word from Brown University or PLoS ONE

by Marie Verite

Update: 7 Sept 2018: Petition has now reached 4200 signatures. In addition to the articles linked below, new media coverage includes:  NBCNews, which covers the controversy as well as the petition, as does this San Diego Union/New York Daily News story; Ken Miller, biology prof and Brown alum in the Brown Daily Herald ; and Cathy Young in Newsday.

In the six days since the launch of the petition urging Brown University and PLoS One to continue supporting research into the sharp increase in youth—particularly females—who seek medical intervention for gender dysphoria, over 3700 have signed and over 1060 have written comments. The initial signature goal was 1000, which was quickly surpassed in less than 12 hours; the goal has since been continuously raised. As of this writing it stands at 4000.

The signatories include many families affected by rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD), medical professionals, therapists, doctors, and academics. You can read them all—and sign the petition, if you have not yet—here.  A small sampler of the 1000+ comments:

— Lee Jussim – Chair Psychology Department, Rutgers University “If it’s wrong, let someone produce evidence that it is wrong. Until that time, if the research pisses some people off, who cares? Galileo and Darwin pissed people off too. Brown U should be ashamed of itself for caving to sociopolitical pressure. Science denial, anyone?”

— Richard B. Krueger – Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons “Brown University’s actions in its failure to support Dr. Littman’s peer reviewed research are abhorrent.” 

— Nicholas H. Wolfinger – Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah “It’s extraordinary for a dean to withdraw support for a study, especially one by an untenured researcher. This is inimical to the spirit of open inquiry. The well-being of trans youth & other sexual minorities is best served by more research, not less.”

The petition was emailed to officials at Brown and PLoS ONE editors several days ago when it reached 2000 signatures, along with a personal letter requesting a response. As of this date, no reply email or even an acknowledgement of receipt has been received.

This week, parents who launched the petition will be mailing the hard-copy petition, with its over 3700 signatories and over 1000 comments, to the Brown University and PLoS officials named at the bottom of the petition, as well as to two WPATH officials located in the United States. A response from all recipients is being requested.

In addition to petition signatories, there have been many others who’ve stepped forward to express their concerns about this assault on academic freedom and the attempted muzzling of free and open discussion regarding the surge in new cases of gender dysphoria in youth and young adults. Press coverage of the exploding controversy is increasing.

This week, the US edition of The Economist ran a piece featuring a mother who completed Dr. Littman’s survey and her daughter, now a 21-year-old desister who identified temporarily as trans and demanded medical intervention at the age of 16. The piece also covers Littman’s study and the growing controversy around it. Entitled “Why are so many teen girls appearing in gender clinics?” the article appears online and in this week’s print edition.Economist cover

The Economist reports that the mother was fine with her daughter’s gender expression but drew the line at medical transition; Rachel and her mother Janette fought “for months.” In the end, Rachel desisted. The article concludes with this paragraph:

Squashing research risks injuring the health of an unknown number of troubled adolescent girls. Rachel, now 21, believes she latched on to a trans identity as a way of coping with on-off depression and being sexually abused as a child. After receiving therapy, her gender dysphoria disappeared. Had her mother affirmed her gender identity as a 16-year-old, as several gender therapists urged, Rachel would have embarked on a medical transition that she turned out not to want after all.

Despite the obvious caring and thoughtfulness demonstrated by the liberal mother and her daughter in the article, Dianne Ehrensaft, Director of Mental Health at the gender clinic associated with UC San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital and an internationally recognized gender therapist, told the Economist that Littman finding  research subjects on sites where skeptical parents like Janette congregate (such as 4thWaveNow)

“would be like recruiting from Klan or alt-right sites to demonstrate that blacks really are an inferior race.”

The Economist article is one of the first to center both the experience of a trans-identified teen who changed her mind and her mother. (Jesse Singal included such stories in his recent Atlantic story; Singal continues to undergo attacks by trans activists for what can only be described as a balanced piece on the matter of youth gender dysphoria).

There has been other prominent news coverage of the Littman controversy. Jeffrey Flier, Harvard University Higginson Professor of Physiology and Medicine at Harvard, and former Dean of Harvard Medical School, first reacted on Twitter to Brown’s removal of the press release of Littman’s’ study, and the university’s failure to support its own researcher:

flier sad day

A few days later, Flier penned a piece for Quillette (an online journal fast becoming one of the most respected outlets for nuanced and incisive writing), taking Brown University to task for its disgraceful treatment of Dr. Littman, an untenured professor, as well as its abdication of responsibility to defend academic freedom via its craven actions in the face of agenda-driven activists. In response, many prominent physicians have retweeted Flier’s piece, as well as Brown faculty members. In Quillette, Flier took no prisoners:

“In all my years in academia, I have never once seen a comparable reaction from a journal within days of publishing a paper that the journal already had subjected to peer review, accepted and published.”

Reactions to the Littman debacle were everywhere on Twitter (for better or worse, the cyber-public square, referred to by some as the “Agora of the 21st Century”), including  from other medical professionals, such as Nicholas Christakis, physician, writer, and researcher at Yale.

flier christakis tweets

An article on Medscape on August 28, “Caring for Transgender Kids: Is Clinical Practice Outpacing the Science?” attracted comments from several physicians, most expressing serious concerns about the epidemic of young people identifying as transgender in the last few years. [Note: Some of these physicians signed and commented on the petition calling on Brown and PLoS ONE to support Dr. Littman’s work.]



Many journalists have also weighed in on Twitter, overwhelmingly in support of Littman’s work and also the petition to Brown and PLoS ONE.

cathy young peteition tweet

Jon Kay, Canadian editor of Quillette opined on Twitter


Tonight, Kay tweeted a letter by a WPATH clinician condemning the ROGD research. Based on WPATH’s previous hostility to any and everything to do with ROGD, we should expect to be hearing more from them in the very near future.

Other coverage of the Littman controversy (recommended) includes Science magazine, Inside Higher Ed, attorney-blogger Jonathan Turley, and the Volokh Conspiracy in Reason magazine.

The intense, swift reaction to the Littman matter–and ROGD–is stunning. Ironically, the pile-on intended to suppress Littman’s work may have had the opposite effect of that desired by activists. As of this writing, Littman’s study has been viewed on the PLOS ONE website nearly 59,000 times (this count would not include, of course, additional views of the paper via email shares of PDFs, etc). Indeed, the Littman affair seems to have not only brought the question of rapid onset of gender dysphoria in adolescence, finally, into the public eye. It has also stimulated a broad group of thinkers, professionals, journalists, and clinicians to start talking about the issues, under the banner of academic freedom and the pursuit of truth over the ideological dictates of one group of activists.

It’s heartening to see that defense of these core values is not dead, after all, in the West.  We now have not just parents, but public intellectuals, physicians, and ethical clinicians speaking up who recognize what is occurring for what it is: An assault on scientific inquiry and an attempt to squelch open discussion of a phenomenon which is becoming more obvious by the day, despite every effort by the usual suspects to insist it doesn’t exist.

As of this writing, there has been no further public response from either Brown University or PLoS ONE. The last reaction we are aware of was an obsequious response by PLoS ONE on Twitter to a self-described BDSM trans sex worker who goes by the moniker “SadistHailey”/Hailey Heartless.

PLOS One hailey

As we observed on our Twitter account,

hailey little babs 4th tweet



43 thoughts on “Controversy intensifies over Littman ROGD study; petition now signed by 3700, no word from Brown University or PLoS ONE

  1. Thank you for your tireless reporting on this story. It’s tempting to be encouraged.

    I’m going to make it my next weeks’ duty to personally thank the editorial board of every publication that exposed Brown U’s and PLOSOne’s hypocrisy in capitulating to WPATH–the organization whose members make their $living transing children.

    The backlash against Dr. Littman undercuts the one legitimate argument against her–that she studied people who haven’t been studied before and who have sought anonymity. Now the world is seeing for the first time why that is, and what we families are subjected to.

    Of course no university dares study us. Of course we fear harassment. WPATH trains its nukes on anyone whose existence threatens its bottom line, and Brown U and its ilk fall into line, while every family whose transgender experience has been less than sparkly-rainbows is driven into hiding.

    But the chinks are showing. The truth will out.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Pingback: Controversy intensifies over Littman ROGD study – Canadian Lone Wolf

  3. This is very good news indeed. I read the comments, too, and have noticed an increase in the number of doctors that are feeling safe to come out and say what they are seeing in their own offices. This study has opened doors for professionals to finally speak freely.

    Thank you 4thwave community for pushing forward and countering the transactivists!

    This study has also given me more of a push to confront the doctors and therapists who have had influence over my daughter. I will be sending emails to them asking them what they think about Dr. Littman’s study. We need to keep the pressure up!

    Liked by 7 people

  4. From my part (and that of quite some friends), it’s really simple. If PLOS One retracts this study or does something like it, I just won’t submit papers to them anymore. It’s not like that would negatively affect my career anyways.


  5. I am hopeful, the action of Brown U and the reaction from MD’s, researchers and others interested in the subject, is the turning point we have been waiting for. The dismissal of Dr. Littmans’ work is proof, she is close to the truth what ROGD really is, a social contagion born out of the excessive consumption of internet content combined with strategically executed LGBT activisem as the main driving force, rather then children being born in the wrong body by nature.

    The censorship of her work is a disgrace for any insitution of higher learning and research and it is a slap in the face for all study participants (parents) living this nightmare on a daily base.

    It remains to be seen if the momentum gained by this controversy is powerful enough to lead to further action. I am hopeful, the subject will finally get the long overdue scientific attention it deserves and so desperatly needs.

    The suppression of Dr. Littmans’ work is yet another attempt to silence any voice of opposition for the current treatment of children suffering from ROGD; carpet bombing hundreds, if not thousands of children who express gender confusion, with harmful drugs and surgeries, leading to irreversable damage to body and soul.

    Hopefully, the medical community is waking up soon and changes course of treatment. For some parents on this blog, any change is too little too late, as they alreday lost their children to this madness and what’s left behind is unimaginable pain and sadness. We owe it to our current and future youth to get to the bottom of this and put a stop to this insanity.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I have talked to several medical professionals who are enabling this trend and they think they are actually helping our kids. They take issue with the ROGD diagnosis, and particularly with the word “rapid”, thus totally discounting this study. I wonder if we have done ourselves as disservice by calling it “rapid”. When the kids are interviewed, they will say “this was not rapid, I always knew it–I just never told my parents!”

    While rapid is not an inaccurate description from our parental perspective, it’s too subjective, and the subject is the child or young adult trying to re-write their own history in an attempt to justify their current situation. Also, rapid begins to lose meaning when your child developed it at 14 and is now 18 and still at it–so what if it was rapid–now it’s also “consistent and persistent” (but not any more valid or proven to benefit from the use of hormones and surgeries long-term).

    It maybe too late to rename this condition, but it might be better to give it a name based on the objective criteria, like “late-onset” or “post-pubescent onset” or something else that is harder to dispute, and contrasts nicely with the more typical onset for 2-3 year olds who are NOT spending hours on the internet when declaring they are the opposite gender.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I’ve thought the same thing, how easy it is to defeat the “rapid onset” diagnosis by simply claiming, “I felt this way a long time but never said it until now.” Even if it’s not really true, kids are being coached to say lots of things to get what they want. Or think they want.

      Liked by 5 people

    • As far as diagnostic criteria go, “insistent, consistent and persistent,” are about as subjective as it gets. To complain that “rapid” is inaccurate is certainly an example of the pot calling the kettle black.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Especially as they may be “insistent, consistent and persistent” for a few years before changing their minds. I mean if someone insisted they were fat, but you knew they were anorexic, would you say “sure, you don’t have to eat because you are insistent, consistent and persistent”? This criteria is hardly a gold standard, especially for those people who have a general body image issue and realise that transitioning is not the right options for them.


    • “They take issue with the ROGD diagnosis, and particularly with the word “rapid”, thus totally discounting this study.”

      I do not like this label either (*), however any decent professional will not use that as a reason to dismiss the study but will recognise that whatever label is used, the things that are being described and the harms being done are still happening and desperately need more research.

      (* socially induced gender dysphoria would have been better, why the “rapid” anyway ?)


      • Late to the party here, and this is not exactly my field of expertise, but a name like “socially induced gender dysphoria” is problematic because it assumes what the cause of the phenomenon is. Even if a researcher believes she knows the cause of a phenomenon, she is ostensibly *investigating* what the cause is with as little bias as possible, so the name should be purely descriptive of what is empirically observed. That said, I agree that “rapid” is misleading for the reasons people have discussed, and that “post-pubescent” or “late presenting” would make more sense.


    • “the more typical onset for 2-3 year olds ”

      how do you mean typical ? For little kids it is induced by their parents and other adult groomers rather than peers and adult groomers, all part of the same contagion/recruitment.


  7. When I bought up the fact that my kid never demonstrated gender dysphoria until 18 years of age to the therapist and the fact that almost half of her friend group was transitioning to male as well the therapist replied “I find your child to be very genuine”. So that’s it. Her judgement trumps my observations based on 18 years of raising my kid. these therapists have an answer for every alarming fact we bring up. half of my kids friend group is now on hormones!! That does not sound off major alarms to anyone?? It just doesn’t make any sense and yet they can twist the truth in such clever ways that as a parent you start to question yourself .

    Liked by 6 people

    • Dealing with a therapist is like dealing with a narcisist; no matter how good your research is, how powerful your arguments are, how good and deep you know your child, they will always triumph over you. That’s what they are trained for, that’s how they defeat us, that’s how they advance their cause and that’s why you keep your child as far away from them as you can.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That is not true of every therapist. Though many therapists interact with young people taking their word as gospel, there are many very thoughtful therapists who endeavour to provide high quality mental health treatment. It’s incredibly unfortunate that because this issue is so new, sound, balanced treatment approaches have not yet been developed. I know many clinicians who want better guidance on this issue, good research, and approaches that allow the client to explore their experience without feeling societal and professional pressure to immediately affirm their clients.


      • The concern that a lot of us have with therapy is that in “conversion therapy ban” states, which are now probably about half of them in the U.S., it isn’t entirely clear WHAT a therapist can do in terms of affirming or not affirming a claimed transgender identity. Unfortunately, at least as of the last time I checked, none of the professional associations have issued guidance to their members as to what might constitute banned conversion therapy. Thus my sense, and that of many parents involved with the issue, is that therapists in “ban” states are wary of anything that might even slightly be accused of “non-affirming” therapy.

        Now I also surmise that this lack of clarity and sense of fear in the confusion in the profession are probably exactly what the activists had in mind in pushing these laws, but that’s a story for another post.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This is an important – and for some in the treatment community dangerous – study. Quite simply, these children can be followed longer term; this means suicide risk in a subgroup of trans-identifying children can be evaluated. Given the claim that the options are “affirm or your child will attempt suicide”, that (I assume) none of these children have, either they were misdiagnosed or failure to go the full gamut on affirm doesn’t necessarily lead to suicide. The present trend in (mis)treatment is exposed either way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is who Brown University is sticking up for: “Trans is an umbrella term that includes, but is not limited to, the following identities: transgender, transsexual, a person of trans experience, genderqueer, androgynous, third gender, agender, non-binary gender, two-spirit, and any other non-normative gender identity.”

    The Trans umbrella has become so large, that it becomes easier and easier to offend “trans” since there are so many claiming that identity now.

    I’m certain that all of the students at Brown University are very smart and very interesting, and I speak for all of us in this 4thWaveNow community that we wish them no ill will whatsoever. But as I’ve seen in my own trans young adult student, there is a hypersensitivity that is very unhealthy and will not serve them well in their post-campus life.

    This is one study about an obvious change in our society. Chill out students.

    Liked by 4 people

    • On your point about the trans umbrella, this article is interesting:

      I’m concerned for people like my wife who is a butch lesbian and heartily does not identify as gender-fluid, transgender, or non-binary. Will she falsely be known as an identity she has no connection to or interest in simply because of her short hair & rock tee shirts? Will she be labeled as trans after death & in so doing, have her life exploited for an ideology she doesn’t ally herself with.

      Transgenderism shouldn’t be another means to erase others identities (or lack of caring about identity in the first place) and recreate them in “their own image.” For not going along my wife been harassed for being a “f*ucking dyke” by transmen. This aggressive hypersensitivity is making relations between gays and trans worse. I hope what’s being revealed with Brown fosters conversation with those who feel too silenced to speak. Academic inquiry is not transphobia.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Pingback: ACTION: Special Mid-Week Follow Up on Brown University: Sign Petition in support Dr. Lisa Littman’s study, in protest of Brown University’s Repression of Academic Freedom – Gender Critical Action Center

  11. FINALLY received a reply from Dean Marcus. It reads in part:

    “As I noted, on Monday, August 27, PLOS One publicly acknowledged concerns about the study’s methodology. In addition, the journal’s staff indicated that per their policies and guidelines from the Committee on Publication Ethics, the journal would follow up on concerns and “seek further expert commentary of the study’s methodology and analyses.” In light of this determination, the University decided the most responsible step would be to take down the article citing the publication of the study.”

    So they are trying to hide behind the idea that the JOURNAL is taking this action and they are only following this totally scientifically responsible action that the journal is taking. But wait, the journal is only caving to the exact same political pressure that was brought to bear on Brown! Yes, the journal’s move is cast in respectable, scientifico-peer-review language, but let’s all be honest about what really happened here. The journal got scared and backpedaled, and that provided Brown with its cover story for its own backpedaling.

    But let’s not kid ourselves about what really happened here. This isn’t an issue with a study’s “methodology and analysis.” That is code for “we got publicly reamed by angry trans activists and so we’re just gonna do the PC thing here.”

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I’m a college student. I signed this petition because I know so many people my age who say they are transgender. But I don’t think they are. It’s not just the girls either. There are also many boys on my campus who identify as women. I attend a very liberal college and I am liberal myself. But I know this is not right. I would like to speak out about this, but I know if I do I would be socially ostracized. Is there a place I could write anonymously about what is happening at my school?

    Liked by 3 people

  13. As a parent who has found such solace here while coping with my own child’s ROGD I just want to thank 4thwavenow for creating this space and pushing this dialogue forward. I responded to Dr. Littman’s survey and it is a comfort to see that what happened to my family is not an isolated incident. When I talk one on one with other progressive professionals (MDs and therapists and psychologists) they inevitably support my choice to distinguish self expression (name, appearance, and pronouns) from medical interventions and yet this attempt at balance is not endorsed in the public dialogue at all. But Dr. Littman’s paper and the defense of it by people who cannot be dismissed as parents in denial or hateful religious ideologues feels like a new opening and I can’t imagine it happening without this site — so I just want to say thank you — for reminding me that I am not crazy or hateful and for pushing this dialogue forward and insisting that we can talk honestly about what is happening to our children and support and defend the civil rights of trans people at the same time.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I was driving in my car yesterday listening to Sirius XM radio-Doctor Radio. It was on pediatrics and the guest on the show was transgender therapist Laura A. Jacobs talking about ROGD and the Littman survey. The show was entirely one sided and Jacobs trashed the survey and all those (including many of us) who completed the survey as people recruited from a “transphobic website.” It was usually arguments we hear from the transgender advocates, puberty blockers are safe with no know side effects, although Jacobs did say she had heard that long term use might cause sterility. So much misinformation spouted I was seething while driving. I tried to email this show to tell them how I felt about this erroneous, and slanted viewpoint that was left unchallenged. The host just kept agreeing how ridiculous the concept of ROGD was. At the very least, it appears that the term ROGD is getting some attention and maybe with all these articles and shows slamming the survey it will get even more attention that pushes the concept out into the open and get people to start questioning.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Queering the Student Body | 4thWaveNow

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  18. I am in the winter of my discontent. I am in the depths of despair that knows no bottom. I lost my daughter, the apple of my eye, my most cherished.

    Yet I have no headstone to mourn or to visit or to wistfully reminisce with bittersweet pleasure the memories of raising her. Her laughter. How she grasped life with wild abandon with a future of unbound potential.

    The rigged juvenile courts, a paid off and conflicted judge, a well-connected attorney egregiously granted her biological father with added visitation which emboldened him to begin molesting her repeatedly at 12 years of age, Though he ceased when she had the built up the courage and fortitude and told him to stop, but the damage was done. She kept that secret until she was 17 after it was found that she was cutting herself.

    We did get her into counseling to make sure she was stable, and we were ultimately able to get her to stop cutting herself through showing her how addicting it was and she did not have to hurt herself any longer. Her relationships with boys her own age at 16 and 17 were devastating as she found the emotion to be overwhelming and addictive. We were able to help her survive that, though we knew she needed some long term help after she turned 18. Her last year in high school was fantastic, her best year ever, she excelled at everything she did.

    We got her into a very liberal college of her choice where she went instantly delved into every conceivable type of relationship, unprotected group sex, began taking drugs, and began to be part of a small group of transgender dysphoric (though euphoric if you listened to them) 18 and 19 year olds. And this was all condoned by the university therapist she was seeing!!!!!

    Now a year later when she came home with a chest bind which has permanently disformed her breasts, with a cosmetic “black face” to simulate a beard, we were just told that it is “Goodbye” as next month she is beginning her “T” hormone treatment, future mastectomy and hysterectomy, and that her committed relationship with a 19 year old male student who is part of her “group” who is “gender-fluid” and this is what she wants. All under the auspices and support of the university’s therapist who enthusiastically supports her transitioning.

    She never ever experienced or gave indications of any Gender Dysphoria, ever. Her mother and I firmly believe that she is suffering from PTSD from the molestation and that she (and her small circle of other transgenders and a university therapist) are just looking for a simple solution to a complex problem.

    I am in the winter of my discontent. I have lost my daughter, my cherished one, the apple of my eye.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike, what a powerful comment. I’m so sorry you’re in this situation. The only two “therapists” that my own daughter talked to are college-based psychologists. They never made any effort to explore motivations or underlying issues, despite a rich soup of diagnosed mental health issues in the family, despite the fact that my daughter admitted to transitioning because she was worn out trying to figure out how to get along with other girls (which could be due to any number of things such as possible ASD, ADHD, simply being an over-thinking, hypersensitive person). It’s all a gender journey to find oneself with permanent body modifications and damaged family relationships. Great work psych community, great work.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. BTW, for full disclosure the university is University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA .. I caution all parents to keep your kids away, far far away from this school and certainly it’s so-called student counseling department as at best it’s conflicted.. The so-called professionals counseling our daughter has never ever requested past medical records, access to therapists our daughter sought after the sexual abuse was known, any information from the parents regarding gender dysphoria being expressed in the past, etc etc.. I believe that these so-called professionals have built up a nice “cottage industry” (mis)treating these vulnerable and impressionable kids

    Liked by 1 person

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