A frighteningly biased piece on trans youth was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, says Brynn Tannehill, who breaks down why it’s so wrong.
By Brynn Tannehill
February 20 2018
Recently, a new anti-transgender narrative has emerged among the right wing. The narrative states that teens, particularly those assigned female at birth, are going on the internet and convincing themselves that they are transgender because being transgender is “trendy.” It treats transgender identities as a form of social contagion. This theory has been picked up on by numerous hate groups and conservative news outlets, including LifeSite, Barbara Kay, the Catholic Institute for Marital Healing, the Minnesota Family Council, MercatorNet, the Illinois Family Institute, the Family Research Council, the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, and an advocacy group of anti-gay therapists.
The entire theory is based on a single poster abstract in 2017 by Dr. Lisa Littman. Poster abstracts are often published when not only is the material too weak to be a journal article, but of insufficient quality to even be accepted for oral presentation at a conference. As such, the academic bar for a poster abstract getting accepted is very low. It was, however, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Littman’s abstract suffers from so many methodological flaws, logical errors, and unacknowledged biases that it fits firmly in the category of junk science. Given how glaring these issues were, it is surprising that the Journal of Adolescent Health published it regardless of how low the bar was set.
Here’s why this abstract by Littman is poor science.
1. The sample group has a heavy and unacknowledged bias which affects the results
Littman posted a survey on three websites asking parents about their transgender teens. What she failed to mention in her abstract is that all three websites — 4thwavenow.com, transgendertrend.com, and YouthTransCriticalProfessionals.org — are all dedicated to parents who do not recognize the gender identities of their children, and do not support their transitions. Littman did not post her survey to sites where parents of transgender adolescents support their children or even neutral sites.
This creates an obvious bias, one she fails to acknowledge anywhere in her poster abstract. Given the obvious viewpoints of the websites she posted to, and the fact that she does not acknowledge this, it gives the appearance she is deliberately trying to hide the bias in her results. Other issues with her abstract support this perception of deliberate academic malfeasance.
2. One of her survey questions appears to be a deliberate attempt to hide her bias
One of the survey questions asked respondents whether they believe “transgender people deserve the rights and protections as other people.” The abstract notes that 87.7 percent answered yes, and is presented in such a way as to suggest that the respondents did not harbor anti-transgender animus. However, this question, and statistic, appear to be deliberately misleading.
This phrasing suggests a deliberate attempt to hide bias in the study, because even people who are vehemently against transgender people are likely to answer yes. For over a decade, anti-LGBT hate groups have framed protections for LGBT people, and even marriage equality, as “special rights.”
Continue reading at: https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2018/2/20/rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria-biased-junk-science