The Download: transphobic panic, and the US-China chip war

When Jay told his mom he was bisexual at 14, she was supportive. But when he came out as transgender a few years later, she pushed back. YouTube videos and online forums soon convinced her that she was right to feel that way. A trans “contagion” called “rapid-onset gender dysphoria,” spread through social media, had caught hold of him and convinced him he was not female, she said. The Internet had “turned” him trans. 

Widely introduced four years ago in a PLOS One paper by Lisa Littman, a physician and researcher, the concept of ROGD hypothesizes a “potential new subcategory” of gender dysphoria—the feeling of distress that one’s gender and assigned sex do not match. Young people with ROGD, the theory claims, identify as trans as a result of peer influence, especially online.

The paper almost immediately drew criticism. PLOS One reissued the study with a large correction, and the Journal of Pediatrics published a comprehensive study that found no evidence for ROGD’s existence. The scientific community agreed there was no such thing as ROGD. But did it matter? Read the full story.

—Ben Kesslen

Inside the software that will become the next battle front in US-China chip war

The days when computer chips were designed by hand are long gone. These days, electrical designers use electronic design automation (EDA) software to help them design and develop ever more complex chips.

This software now forms the latest battle front in the tech trade war between China and the United States. On August 12, the US Commerce Department announced a multilateral export control on certain EDA tools, blocking China and over 150 other countries—essentially any country that isn’t a traditional US ally—from accessing them without specially granted licenses.

EDA software is a small but mighty part of the semiconductor supply chain, and it’s mostly controlled by three Western companies. That gives the US a powerful point of leverage. So how has the industry become so American-centric, and why can’t China just develop its own alternative software? Read the full story.

—Zeyi Yang

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 Why Silicon Valley forgave WeWork’s Adam Neumann
The cult of the founder has struck again. (Recode)
+ He’s spent tens of millions of dollars on property. (Insider $)
+ Community living, the focus of his new startup, has a checkered history. (Fast Company $)

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