Gender Identification – The New Parental Challenge


I’ve never been confused about what sex I am. Who knew this was such a blessing?For those of us in our seventh decade or older, this was not among the challenges of our life – nor our parents’ lives. But sadly, it can be today.

Abigail Shrier, writing in The Wall Street Journal, gives us an eye-opening look into the world of gender identification that is becoming just one more challenge of teenagers and parents in our declining culture. There is even a new name for this problem – rapid onset gender dysphoria or ROGD.

She tells the sad tale of a mother and her teenage daughter who recently left home for college at Brown University. The girl was described as a “girly girl”, intellectually precocious, but one who struggled with anxiety and depression. She liked boys and had boyfriends in high school, also faced social challenges and often found herself on the outs with cliques.

But when she got to college she was asked by the school to give her name, sexual orientation, and “preferred pronoun.” When her occasional bouts of anxiety flared up during her first semester, she and her friends decided they had “gender dysphoria.” Soon after she was taking testosterone, courtesy of the school infirmary. She quickly became “addicted” to her new identity and began shaving her head, wearing boys’ clothes and a new name.

The term ROGD was coined by Brown University public-health researcher Lisa Littman. This syndrome differs from traditional gender dysphoria, a psychological affliction usually seen in early childhood characterized by a severe and persistent feeling that one was born the “wrong sex.” ROGD, by distinction, comes on suddenly in late adolescence, afflicting teens who never before experienced any sex confusion.

Not surprisingly, ROGD, like bulimia and anorexia, overwhelmingly afflicts girls. But strangely, it gets full support from the medical community by way of affirmation, easily obtainable medical treatment including testosterone and even surgery. Planned Parenthood furnishes testosterone to young women on an “informed consent” basis, without the need for psychological evaluation. Shrier found 86 colleges with student health plans that covered sex hormonal therapy and even surgery.

She personally interviewed 18 mothers of daughters diagnosed with ROGD and found all to be articulate, intellectual, educated, and feminist. Most were from politically progressive families and many said they enthusiastically supported same-sex marriage long before it was legal anywhere. Some even described themselves as welcoming the news when their daughters came out as lesbians. Yet most recoiled in alarm when the same daughters suddenly decided they were actually men and started clamoring for hormones or surgery.

What is actually going on here?

Several questions come to mind in this situation.

  • Is this a medical or a psychological condition?
  • Is this a culturally induced condition?
  • What role, if any, do the parents play in the development of this condition?
  • What role, if any, do the schools play in the development of this condition?
  • Why does it seem to be most commonly found in progressive families with feminist mothers?


The teenage daughters described in this condition sound much like every other teenage girl in America. They have bouts of anxiety and depression, face social challenges that undermine their self-confidence, and struggle for acceptance. Why do these girls resort to “gender dysphoria” when nearly everyone else doesn’t?

The real question is why is our society producing girls like this when it never did before? What can parents and our society do to treat these girls and prevent more of them in the future? One thing is for certain, this kind of gender identification problem is incompatible with a healthy future for these girls and our culture.

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