The transgender movement is sweeping around the globe at startling speeds.
More than ever, young people are declaring dissatisfaction with their “assigned” gender identity.
It seems to happen in groups: where one transgender teen is, others are quick to follow.
And the author of a new study on the topic suggests it’s all about social influence.
Dr. Dianna Kenny, a professor of psychology, recently published an article entitled “Is Gender Dysphoria Socially Contagious?”
In this study, she argues that “the madness of crowds” often persuades young people to change their lifestyles in unprecedented ways.
Over the course of history, young people have often embraced dangerous and harmful fads. Dr. Kenny cites several examples, among them familial patterns of loneliness and a slew of suicides in the 1700s after the publication of a popular novel detailing a young man’s suicide.
In her work, Dr. Kenny introduces the concept of social contagion, “the spread of phenomena (e.g., behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes) across network ties.” Social scientists originally developed the term to describe the spread of diseases, but they soon realized that it applied to social behaviors as well.
Social networks, or groups of people in relationships, play a crucial role in the dissemination of ideas. How often have you embraced an ideology because your friends, family, or acquaintances shared it with you?
Sometimes peer pressure can be beneficial, but more often than not, social networks spread dangerous ways of thinking, as in the case of gender identity issues.
In her study, Dr. Kenny identifies several key findings about social contagion and the spread of gender dysphoria, or feelings of dissatisfaction with one’s biological gender, that often turn into transgender behaviors.
1. Social contagion is incredibly powerful in the lives of children and teenagers.
Because young people are still forming their opinions about the world and their place in it, they soak up the ideas of others more readily than mature adults. Since children and teenagers often spend more time with their peers than with their parents, the decisions and influences of their peers carry a special weight.
For young people, social contagion can lead to the adoption of behaviors that are either “life-enhancing,” like exercise or good study habits, or “life-compromising,” like substance abuse or bullying, writes Dr. Kenny.
So what happens when young people start emulating the ideas and behaviors of their peers? And, what happens when children begin to explore the world without adult supervision or guidance?
2. Deviant behavior is often rewarded in peer groups.
It’s no secret that children and teenagers often think that rebellious behavior—bullying, violence, delinquency, and substance abuse—is “cool” or “edgy.”
Any belief or behavior that challenges the social norms of previous generations is open for discussion and adoption in groups of young people, but often undermine the positive influences in a child’s life.
This attitude allows young people to pressure each other into acts of aggression and revolt. Dr. Kenny’s research discovered that this principle holds true for highly specific beliefs and behaviors, including sexual and gender deviancy.
3. Gender dysphoria as a deviant attitude is easily spread by social contagion.
“Most countries are reporting sharp increases in the number of people seeking services and treatment for gender dysphoria,” reports Dr. Kenny’s study. “Many are ramping up services and setting up new gender clinics to cope with demand.”
These new networks of healthcare and social support are “highly centralized with only one voice—the transactivist lobby—being heard above the desperate whispers of terrified parents and horrified academics, doctors, psychologists and psychotherapists,” writes Dr. Kenny.
Young people are only hearing—and heeding—the voices of untruthful activists on the forefront of the transgender movement, especially with the advent of social media. Online communities and repetitive messages supporting sexually deviant behaviors influence young people everywhere they turn.
Transgender activists argue that everyone has the right to “transition” into their “preferred” gender, claiming that the rise of the transgender movement is merely a reflection of social acceptance for desires that have always existed.
However, Dr. Kenny’s study provides sound evidence for the opposite: that the increasing acceptance of gender nonconformity among the younger generation encourages sexually deviant behavior.
Young people wouldn’t experience so much gender dysphoria, Dr. Kenny asserts, if transgender activists and their peers didn’t pressure them into it. It’s a dangerous social contagion that only continues to spread.
Let’s pray for our children’s protection. May God grant them the understanding to choose good influences and may we guide them in paths of wisdom.
Read Dr. Kenny’s article here.