In this article, we offer a psychoanalytic reading of controversies over “rapid onset gender dysphoria” (popularly known as ROGD), defined as a sudden expression of gender dysphoria in late adolescence and young adulthood where there had not purportedly been evidence of childhood dysphoric experience. We begin by tracing the emergence of the term in relation to contemporary debates about gender, free speech, and academic freedom. Turning to the psychoanalytic concept of free association, we reframe speech as bound to the unconscious and theorize the ethical qualities of animating this linkage in relation to discussions of gender diversity and ROGD in particular. Our discussion supports theorists, clinicians, parents, teachers, and other caring adults who encounter the term to distinguish between collective anxiety and the labor of thought that involves working through feelings of coming undone in the undoing of cisgender.
By Lisa Farley, Ph.D & RM Kennedy , Ph.D, 2020