What the researchers found interesting about the AYAs represented is that the vast majority of them (80.4 percent) had “zero indicators” of gender dysphoria in childhood. Meaning, something changed for the AYAs once they entered puberty. The survey was trying to determine what that “something” could have been.
Another point of interest in the research concerns an apparent link between gender dysphoria and other mental or emotional problems. The study reads:
The majority (62.5 percent) of AYAs had one or more diagnoses of a psychiatric disorder or neurodevelopmental disability preceding the onset of gender dysphoria…Many (48.4 percent) had experienced a traumatic or stressful event prior to the onset of their gender dysphoria. Open text descriptions of trauma were categorized as “family” (including parental divorce, death of a parent, mental disorder in a sibling or parent), “sex or gender related” (such as rape, attempted rape, sexual harassment, abusive dating relationship, break-up), “social” (such as bullying, social isolation), “moving” (family relocation or change of schools); “psychiatric” (such as psychiatric hospitalization), and medical (such as serious illness or medical hospitalization).
Just before announcing they are transgender, 63.5 percent of AYAs exhibited an increase in their internet/social media use. Perhaps the most concerning piece of information the study gathered is what AYAs found online. The study reads:
AYAs had received online advice including how to tell if they were transgender (54.2 percent); the reasons that they should transition right away (34.7 percent); that if their parents did not agree for them to take hormones that the parents were “abusive” and “transphobic” (34.3 percent); that if they waited to transition they would regret it (29.1 percent); what to say and what not to say to a doctor or therapist in order to convince them to provide hormones (22.3 percent); that if their parents were reluctant to take them for hormones that they should use the “suicide narrative” (telling the parents that there is a high rate of suicide in transgender teens) to convince them (20.7 percent); and that it is acceptable to lie or withhold information about one’s medical or psychological history from a doctor or therapist in order to get hormones/get hormones faster (17.5 percent).
The majority of parents (69.2 percent) felt as if their children weren’t using their own language to describe their transgenderism but were using language they had read online. One respondent described her daughter’s announcement this way: “It seemed different from the way she usually talked—I remember thinking it was like hearing someone who had memorized a lot of definitions for a vocabulary test.” Another parent said, “The email [my child sent to me] read like all of the narratives posted online almost word for word.”
What Can This Research on Gender Dysphoria Tell Us?
Reading through the results, three common denominators appear in children who experience rapid onset gender dysphoria.