In July 2020, an old and debunked rumor claiming that pedophiles were attempting to normalize “age fluidity,” an invented term for a fictional medical condition in which a person self-identifies as a younger age in order to engage in physical relationships with children, was recirculated on social media.
This rumor was often shared in the form of a text post. Here’s an excerpt from one popular iteration:
While we are arguing over the efficacy of masks, a vile group of people are trying to make pedophilia a sexual orientation and believe it is 100% ok to be age fluid.
I just discovered age fluidity last night. Being age fluid means that a full grown man could “identify” as an 8 year old boy…OR an 8 year old girl if he is also feeling gender fluid on any particular day. So, if a 50 year old man “identifies” as an 8 year old girl, and is attracted to an 8 year old boy, then these sickos feel it is natural and should be legal for him to act on those feelings.
This is inaccurate. No concerted effort exists to normalize “age fluidity” as a way for adults to engage in sexual relationships with children. This is transphobic hoax that was created in an attempt to smear the LGBTQ community by linking them to pedophilia.
This smear is not a novel one. In fact, there have been repeated attempts to spread the long-disproven idea that homosexuality is linked to pedophilia, despite the lack of scientific proof to support this claim.
In 2017, for example, a false rumor was circulated on social media claiming that the LGBTQ community was working to change their acronym to “LGBTQP,” with the “P” standing for “pedosexual.” In 2018, a troll Tumblr page created and spread a pride flag for “MAPS,” a term meaning “Minor Attracted Persons,” and falsely claimed that the group was earning currency with the LGBTQ community.
The above-displayed meme, which was created from a stock image of a “father talking with son silhouette” (the white outline of a little girl was not present in the original image), started circulating on social media circa early 2017. At the time, a troll campaign was underway by bad actors who were falsely claiming to be “clovergendered,” an imaginary medical term that supposedly referred to a person whose mind stopped developing at a young age. These “clovergendered” people were now adults, but since their minds stopped developing at a young age, they claimed it was acceptable for them to be attracted to minors.
One 4chan thread from Dec. 31, 2016, informed social media users that they were creating a “new gender” to troll “social justice warriors” and defined “clovergender” as “a child trapped in a man’s body who is attracted to other children.”
This meme was created as part of a troll campaign that aimed, in part, to spread the repeatedly debunked notion that a link exists between the LGBTQ community and pedophilia. Live Science addressed this persistent myth about homosexuals in a 2011 article, writing:
An especially pernicious myth is that most adults who sexually abuse children are gay. A number of researchers have looked at this question to determine if homosexuals are more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals, and the data indicate that’s not the case.
For example, in a 1989 study led by Kurt Freund of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Canada, scientists showed pictures of children to adult gay and straight males, and measured sexual arousal. Homosexual men reacted no more strongly to pictures of male children than heterosexual men reacted to pictures of female children.
A 1994 study, led by Carole Jenny of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, surveyed 269 cases of children who were sexually molested by adults. In 82 percent of cases, the alleged offender was a heterosexual partner of a close relative of the child, the researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics. In only two out of 269 cases, the offender was identified as being gay or lesbian.
In short, no concerted effort exists by any group to normalize “age fluidity” in order to legally engage in sexual relationships with children. This is a transphobic piece of anti-LGBTQ propaganda that originated in 2017.