Thursday, Abigail Shrier has made an important admission.
Abigail Shrier is the author of Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. That book has become beloved by the Christian right because Shrier makes the case that young females can be influenced to become transgender.
If influence can make someone trans then conversion therapy should be able to make a transgender person cisgender. The validation of conversion therapy is important because it serves as a pretext for discrimination.
Shrier was interviewed by two of the far-right Heritage Foundation’s propagandists: Virginia Allen and Lauren Evans. You would not expect them to ask tough questions and they did not.
Heritage Foundation employs the ultimate anti-transgender crackpot, Ryan T. Anderson. The organization embraces all of the anti-trans BS regardless of the absence of evidence.
At some point in the discussion, Shrier says this:
My book jumps off from the work of public health researcher Lisa Littman at Brown University, who found that all of a sudden adolescent girls, a demographic that had never experienced gender dysphoria, the severe discomfort in one’s biological sex, had never experienced this in any real numbers, all of a sudden had become the predominant demographic.
Not only were teenage girls suddenly dominating the phenomenon, but these were girls with no childhood history. Typically gender dysphoria began in early childhood.
So she noticed that this was a giant epidemic and it was peculiar.
I assumed that Shrier’s book was the result of the Littman study but now Shrier has made a powerful admission.
Abigail Shrier doesn’t seem to realize or understand the consequences of the fact that Littman did not interview any of the adolescent girls. Littman’s subjects were the anonymous mothers of supposedly transgender girls that Littman found through mostly anonymous anti-trans websites.
The original study was published to Plos-One and it was peer reviewed. It took some time for Plos-One’s editors to realize that the article needed to be re-reviewed and the re-review took several months. Overall, the process took seven months from original publication to correction.
A portion of the correction notice reads as follows (emphasis added):
This study of parent observations and interpretations serves to develop the hypotheses that rapid-onset gender dysphoria is a phenomenon and that social influences, parent-child conflict, and maladaptive coping mechanisms may be contributing factors for some individuals. Rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD) is not a formal mental health diagnosis at this time. This report did not collect data from the adolescents and young adults (AYAs) or clinicians and therefore does not validate the phenomenon.
To the best of my knowledge, in the nearly two years since the original study was published (August, 2018), no other researcher has confirmed any of Littman’s original findings.
Lisa Littman is early in her career development. She is an assistant professor which indicates that she does not have tenure. Littman’s specialty is OB/GYN. Yet, it did not trouble Abigail Shrier that there is no validating or confirming research published to a reputable academic journal.
The religious right will claim that no one will confirm Littman’s findings because no researcher will subject themselves to the kind of criticism that Littman received. It is true that Littman was subjected to considerable criticism. None of it was personal and none of it was ad hominem. Shortly after the paper was published, clinicians noticed the flawed methodology.
For example, the first comment at the journal reads:
1. Why was no control group included? Lack of a control group prevents any reasonable statistical analysis
2. What websites were used to recruit participants?
3. Why were only parents interviewed and not parents and their children?
4. Why were reddit and tumblr brought up anecdotally without any quantitative data to support their inclusion?
Getting back to Abigail Shrier:
They were coming out in very short periods of time in friend groups. And there was just no reason you would see a 70 times the expected prevalence rate within clusters of friends. This was really strange. And it turned out she was onto something.
Littman’s paper does not allow anyone to reach any of those conclusions.
This is a phenomenon we’ve seen all across the West now. Adolescent girls claiming to have gender dysphoria spiked over 4,000% in Britain. The numbers are extremely high in America as well, and Canada and so forth across the West.
While the 4,000% seems shocking Shrier has not done due diligence. The increase in referrals (not transitions) was over an eight year period of time and the base number was 42 adolescent girls in 2009/2010. Keep in mind that only a fraction of referrals result in adolescents receiving medications.
The bottom line is this: Abigail Shrier has embraced research that is deeply flawed. Shrier has not considered what the correction means and how it affects the stated results. As they say in legal circles, “this is the fruit of the poisonous tree.”
My guess — and it is only a guess — is that Abigail Shier was more interested in making a buck than authoring a reliable book. Presumably she knew that there exists a built-in audience for any anti-LGBTQ tome. It could be utter gibberish written at a third grade level and Heritage Foundation would still be promoting it.
The religious right is obsessed with supposedly conflicting scripture. No amount of evidence will persuade them otherwise and they are predisposed to accept, through confirmation bias, anything that validates their dogmatic convictions.