The Desistance Myth

The desistance argument is a common narrative used in attempt to oppose any form of medical or social transition. One of the most cited studies is the Steensma study of 2013.

Steensma

Steensma surveyed 127 adolescents, of which 80 participants ‘desisted’ in their gender dysphoria (62.99%) 

Flaws in the methodology of the study

This study suffers from several methodological flaws making this study very unreliable.

Baseless assumptions

"As the Amsterdam clinic is the only gender identity service in the Netherlands where psychological and medical treatment is offered to adolescents with GD, we assumed that for the 80 adolescents (56 boys and 24 girls), who did not return to the clinic, that their GD had desisted, and that they no longer had a desire for gender reassignment." (583)
The problem with measuring this way is that these adolescents could have died, moved to a different country, decided to speak to a different doctor or not medically transition. Not all individuals with gender dysphoria desire to medically transition for many reasons, as in trans men not wanting to go on testosterone to keep a singing voice. Instead of counting the children who failed to go to the clinic again, you cut them out of your statistics.
"All 47 persisters participated in the study. Of the 80 desisters, 46 adolescents sent back the questioners." (584)
They contacted the 80 desisters, of which only 46 responded, making 34 of these desisters invalid and not part of the actual statistics. The actual sample size is now 93, which brings the desistance rate down to approximately 49.4% (46 desisters, 47 persisters).


Many of the children surveyed did not meet the criteria for gender dysphoria

Many of the desisters did not meet the threshold for gender dysphoria.
  1. 91.3% of male persisters were diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
  2. 95.8% of female persisters were diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
  3. 60% of male desisters were not diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
  4. 41.7% of female desisters were not diagnosed with gender dysphoria.


Conclusion

Other studies also suffer from similar flaws in their method of surveying, this study completely goes against the scientific method and bases its evidence on bad statistics. It is safe to say that the studies available to us are of poor quality and more research needs to be done.

Glossary

  1. GD: Gender Dysphoria
  2. GID: Gender Identity Disorder (now known as Gender Dysphoria)

Resources

  1. Steensma, Thomas, et al. Factors Associated With Desistence and Persistence of Childhood Gender Dysphoria: A Quantitative Follow-Up Study. NEW RESEARCH, June. 2013, https://www.docdroid.net/hY664Sc/steensma2013-pdf
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.