A new study of social contagion raises important clinical and ethical questions.
. . . all the culturally recognized incidences of pre-modern transgender individuals mentioned above involve natal males who transition to female.
As attested by current controversies, rates of transgender identity appear to be on the rise, particularly among young people. Increased social acceptance of a previously stigmatized condition likely plays a role in this process, but other findings are clearly puzzling: Transgender identity is now reported among young natal females at rates that clearly exceed all known statistics to date.
When extreme forms of distress and coping arise through novel social pressures and spread through implicit imitation, strange epidemics of “mass psychogenic illnesses” have been documented. These have extended to dancing plagues, possession epidemics on factory floors, fugue states, or epidemics of face-twitching. These conditions are described as “psychogenic” (originating in the mind) when no underlying physical cause can be determined. But the term “sociogenic,” which highlights the social context in which these conditions occur, is a better description.
Tellingly, for our investigation, it is broadly recognized that females, perhaps due to their higher sensitivity to social cues on average, are overwhelmingly more prone to such phenomena.