New Study: Social media is *not* creating more trans youth, rebuking argument of Ohio lawmakers

Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) testified that he believed trans youth are influenced by social media or a desire to fit in.

A new study was published this week that challenges the theory that transgender and gender (TGD) adolescents identify so as a result of “social contagion.”

The paper appeared in Pediatrics, a journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and refutes the argument that social media and peer pressure results in the growing number of trans-identified youth. This debunked theory has been reliably put forth by lawmakers seeking to criminalize gender-affirming care, including here in Ohio.

During the hearings for Ohio’s HB 454 — which would ban gender-affirming care and force teachers and school staff to out trans youth to their families — Rep. Gary Click (R-Vickery) testified that he believed trans youth are influenced by social media or a “desire to fit into a group or escape an adverse experience.”

Jeanette Cooper, a witness whose testimony was arranged by Rep. Click, testified that trans people were a “social contagion.” In exchange, Rep. Click praised Cooper as a “rock star.”

The Pediatrics study analyzed the 2017 and 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control. Researchers looked at data collected across 16 states that collected gender identity data and examined the rates of bullying victimization and suicidality among trans youth compared with their cisgender peers.

The results of the research found found that most transgender youth between 2017 and 2019 were assigned male at birth, contrasting with the theory put forth by lawmakers that peer pressure, social media, and other external influences result in adolescents assigned female at birth being more likely to identify as transgender.

The study also directly challenges the fringe theory that youth are more likely to experience “rapid onset gender dysphoria” (ROGD) when they have friends who are transgender or increase their internet usage.

From the study’s conclusion:

Our findings are in direct contrast with central components of the ROGD hypothesis, as well as previous studies that used smaller samples from single clinics. The notion of ROGD should not be used to restrict the provision of gender-affirming medical care for TGD adolescents. Results from this study also argue against the notions that TGD youth come to identify as TGD because of social contagion or to flee stigma related to sexual minority status.

Ignite Action:

  • Check out the study here

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