AusPATH say they do not recognise Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

Australia’s leading bodies for transgender health care has released a position statement on Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) saying it is not a recognised condition by any major health organisation.

The phrase was first coined in 2018 by US health researcher Lisa Littman who published a descriptive study that suggested that “social contagion” may be the cause of a increasing numbers of young people identifying as being transgender.

Littman’s study was widely criticised because her data came from the parents of transgender youth, not interviews with the young people themselves.

The phrase has become widely used in Australia in recent months by activists who are opposed to the current methodology of transgender health care.

AusPATH say there is no reliable evidence that ROGD exists, and it’s not recognised by any major health body.

The Australian Professional Association for Trans Health (AusPATH) was established in 2009 and is the peak body for professionals involved in the health, rights and well-being of people who are transgender, including gender diverse and non-binary people. The AusPATH membership comprises approximately 250 experienced professionals working across Australia.

“The term “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD)” is not a diagnosis or health condition recognised by any major professional association, nor is it listed as a subtype or classification in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or International Classification of Diseases (ICD).” the group said in their position statement.

AusPATH say “ROGD” is an acronym describing a proposed phenomenon, with insufficient peer-reviewed scientific evidence to support its implementation and/or use within clinical, community, social and legal settings.

The health professionals say the reports claiming ROGD is a mental condition lack the rigorous processes that are needed when determining diagnosis and treatments.

“AusPATH affirms the rigorous processes by which diagnoses are developed and applied. These academic and clinical processes operate within professional medical organisations, and are developed by expert working groups of scientists, clinicians, and stakeholders over long periods of time, with high levels of scientific scrutiny of the evidence-based literature. “ROGD” does not meet this standard, and therefore is not recognised by AusPATH.” the group said.

“Whilst many have a clear picture of their gender from a very early age, for others the journey towards understanding their gender is more prolonged. The timing of when an individual discloses their gender to others is a separate consideration and does not necessarily reflect the development of their experienced gender.

“Many do not disclose their identity, rather hiding it for fear of negative reactions from others, including family rejection, discrimination, stigmatisation and social exclusion.”

While the phrase has become popular amongst campaigners and media commentators, the health professionals note that there is only the one report published last year.

“The term “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” is not, and has never been, a diagnosis or health condition but has been used in a single report describing parental perception of their adolescent’s gender identity without exploration of the gender identity and experiences of the adolescents themselves.

AusPATH say they encourage continued scientific exploration within a culture of academic freedom, not censorship.

The group also say they recognise the harms caused by conversion, reparative and aversion treatments and opposes any such efforts to invalidate an individual’s experienced gender.

“AusPATH supports affirmative responses to young people whereby self-reported gender is respected, and young people are able to safely explore their gender and expression without judgment, pathologisation or predetermined outcome. AusPATH urges caution in the use of any term that has the potential to invalidate a person’s gender.” the statement said.

Graeme Watson

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