Lisa Littman

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Lisa Littman
🏫 Education
  • Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (MD, 1998)
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine (MPH, 2007)
💼 Occupation
  • Physician
  • researcher

Lisa L. Littman is an American physician and researcher at the School of Public Health at Brown University. Her research relates to reproductive health, perceptions of 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]

In 2018, Littman joined the faculty of the Brown University School of Public Health as assistant professor of the practice in Behavioral and Social Sciences.[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 and subsequent paper described cases of a rapid onset of gender dysphoria based on reports by the surveyed parents,[2] along with information that was collected about the children's peer group dynamics, social media use, and prior mental health issues.[8] 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][9]

Littman's paper on the descriptive study was published in PLOS One in August 2018.[2][10] 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 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] PLOS One responded to negative comments by opening a review on the paper, to determine if its conclusions were appropriately stated.[2][6] On the same day, Brown University took down a press release they had earlier posted about the paper, which in turn caused further controversy concerning academic freedom.[2][11] Following the completion of a review, PLOS editor Joerg Heber noted "the study, including its goals, methodology, and conclusions, were not adequately framed in the published version, and that these needed to be corrected" but noted "At its core, the survey of the parents stands as it is" a rewrite of the discussion noting data obtained from relatives had "not yet been clinically validated." along with a letter of correction was published in March 2019. [12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "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. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 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. 3.0 3.1 "Profiles: Lisa L. Littman". Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-02-27.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  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. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "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. Melchior, Jillian Kay (September 9, 2018). "Peer Pressure and 'Transgender' Teens". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Archived from the original on 2018-09-25.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  9. Tannehill, Brynn (February 20, 2018). "'Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria' Is Biased Junk Science". The Advocate.
  10. 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 6095578. PMID 30114286.
  11. Rudgard, Olivia (August 28, 2018). "Brown University in row with transgender activists over claims gender dysphoria spreading among children". The Telegraph. London. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 2018-08-28.
  12. "Correcting the scientific record on gender incongruence – and an apology". PLOS One. August 29, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.

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