Lisa Littman

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Lisa Littman
  • Physician
  • researcher
Medical career
Notable works Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports (2018)

Lisa L. Littman is an American physician and researcher at the School of Public Health at Brown University. Her research relates to reproductive health, abortion risk, gender dysphoria, detransition, and health in children and mothers.[1] Her work in the area of transgender identity among adolescents has been controversial and has become politicized.[2]


Littman attended Brandeis University as an undergraduate. She obtained her MD from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 1992, then part of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She went on to complete a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, and a second residency in general preventive medicine and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she also obtained a master's degree in public health in 2007.[1]


Littman has served as an adjunct assistant professor of preventive medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai,[3] and she is a member of the American College of Preventive Medicine.[4] At Mount Sinai, her research included exploring women's support and health literacy needs surrounding abortion.[3][5]

As of 2018, Littman holds the position of assistant professor of the practice in the department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at the Brown University School of Public Health.[1] Her research interests relate to reproductive health, gender dysphoria, iatrogenic persistence of gender dysphoria, detransition, and maternal and child health including prematurity and the use of substances in pregnancy.[1]

Publishing controversy[edit]

Littman became interested in the possible role of "social contagion" in gender dysphoria among young people, and conducted a study by sending a survey to around 250 parents whom she had recruited from three websites where she had seen parents describe sudden gender transitions in their adolescents—4thWaveNow, Transgender Trend, and Youth TransCritical Professionals.[2] She presented preliminary results at a conference, and the abstract of her presentation was published in 2017 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.[6][7] The abstract mentioned the name Littman had coined, "rapid onset gender dysphoria", for a provisional condition or syndrome.[6]

The abstract was picked up and discussed by various socially conservative websites and forums, according to a February 2018 piece in The Advocate, a socially liberal publication which focuses on LGBT issues and which criticized those discussions and the abstract.[6] In August 2018, Littman's paper on the study was published in PLOS One.[8][2] According to coverage in the news section of Science, the study found that "among the young people reported on—83% of whom were designated female at birth—more than one-third had friendship groups in which 50% or more of the youths began to identify as transgender in a similar time frame", which the Science coverage described as the probably "the most explosive of Littman's findings".[2]

The paper was met with a strongly negative reaction from transgender activists, who stated reasons such as its already having been politicized, self-selection bias of the subjects that Littman surveyed, and her only surveying the parents, and not the young people themselves nor the health professionals caring for them.[2] Brown University took down the press release they had earlier posted about the paper, which in turn caused more controversy.[2] PLOS One opened a review on the paper, to determine if its conclusions were appropriately stated.[2][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Lisa Littman: Assistant Professor of the Practice of Behavioral and Social Sciences". Researchers@Brown. Brown University. Archived from the original on 2018-08-19. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Wadman, Meredith (August 30, 2018). "News: New paper ignites storm over whether teens experience 'rapid onset' of transgender identity". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aav2613. ISSN 1095-9203. Archived from the original on 2018-08-31. 
  3. ^ a b "Profiles: Lisa L. Littman". Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-02-27. 
  4. ^ "Lisa Littman". American College of Preventive Medicine. Archived from the original on 2018-09-06. Retrieved August 19, 2018. 
  5. ^ "Dr. Lisa Littman, Obstetrician-Gynecologist in New York, NY",, U.S. News & World Report L.P., retrieved 2018-09-14 
  6. ^ a b c d "Reader outcry prompts Brown to retract press release on trans teens". Retraction Watch. August 29, 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-30. 
  7. ^ Littman, L.L. (February 2017). "Rapid Onset of Gender Dysphoria in Adolescents and Young Adults: a Descriptive Study". Journal of Adolescent Health. 60 (2): S95–S96. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.10.369. Supplement 1. 
  8. ^ Littman, L. (August 16, 2018). "Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports". PLOS One. 13 (8): e0202330. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0202330. PMC 6095578Freely accessible. PMID 30114286.