Discuss: New Drug Curbs Gayness

Los Angeles Times: Medical Treatment Carries Possible Side Effect of Limiting Homosexuality

Each year in the United States, perhaps a few dozen pregnant women learn they are carrying a fetus at risk for a rare disorder known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia. The condition causes an accumulation of male hormones and can, in females, lead to genitals so masculinized that it can be difficult at birth to determine the baby’s gender.

A hormonal treatment to prevent ambiguous genitalia can now be offered to women who may be carrying such infants. It’s not without health risks, but to its critics those are of small consequence compared with this notable side effect: The treatment might reduce the likelihood that a female with the condition will be homosexual. Further, it seems to increase the chances that she will have what are considered more feminine behavioral traits.

That such a treatment would ever be considered, even to prevent genital abnormalities, has outraged gay and lesbian groups, troubled some doctors and fueled bioethicists’ debate about the nature of human sexuality.

The treatment is a step toward “engineering in the womb for sexual orientation,” said Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University and an outspoken opponent of the treatment.

The ability to chemically steer a child’s sexual orientation has become increasingly possible in recent years, with evidence building that homosexuality has biological roots and with advances in the treatment of babies in utero. Prenatal treatment for congenital adrenal hyperplasia is the first to test — unintentionally or not — that potential.

I have no problem with gay people. None whatsoever. What I do have a problem with, however, is scientists going overboard and finding themselves in a position in which they’re essentially playing God, especially when the benefits are theoretical or marginally beneficial.  That was the problem I had with the Large Hadron Collider, and that’s the problem I have here.

As I understand it, so long as the hyperplasia is recognized, treatment can allow for those affected to lead normal lives — with the exception, of course, of the physical abnormalities that usually stay concealed under pants (or leather chaps, as it were).  So this isn’t the case where we’re tweaking life in the womb for the purpose of saving lives.  This is superficial stuff.

That’s the way I look at it.  I’m curious about you.  Discuss.



  1. Sophie says:

    Jeff and others,

    Firstly let me establish my credentials, since I believe that this is the first time that I have commented on this site, despite the fact that I read it regularly.
    I am an ‘out’ transsexual living in Tennessee finishing up my political science degree. Also, I voted for George Bush in 2004, while at boot camp at Parris Island, knowing that I would go to Iraq. Which, I did.
    The few things that I can share with all of you is that some in the GLBT community are downright paranoid. They do have somewhat of a decent reason, both due to contemporary and historical reasons. So, I can understand why they might be outraged; wrongly, I believe, but I digress.
    The goal of this treatment is to improve life. If it does so safely and effectively then I see no reason why it should not be used. If by some side effect it does change sexual orientation, I still see no problem. One of the major points that the GLBT community has been trying to make is that one sexual orientation is not better than any other. In my opinion if a parent is willing to go to such extremes, then it is probably better for the child anyway.
    I say this because coming out to one’s parents is probably one of the scariest things anyone can do if one’s parents are not receptive to the idea. I had been in actual combat and it did not compare to telling my folks, both deeply religious.
    So, yes, I would support this treatment to spare someone depression and anxiety, both the clinical type, mind you.
    Just my two cents.

  2. matt says:

    I came across this a month or two ago and did a little research into it. Most of the groups opposed to it lost steam as they began to study more into what is the purpose of the study actually was. The drug prevents something more that a mild deformity concealed under one’s pants. This drug prevents a deformity that no one would really want for themselves or for one of their children. There wasn’t any intention of curbing homosexual tendencies, his was completely an unexpected outcome. When most of the pro-homosexual groups studied what was going on, they back on for the most part and are watching to ensure it doesn’t get promoted for anything more. They wouldn’t want this deformity either.
    On a side note, as long as man gives precedence to the voice of flesh or desire within us over the voice of God that has spoken and speaks to us, homosexuality will be with us. And in our culture that increasingly elevates and celebrates following one’s feelings, sexual depravity of all kinds will be increasingly more common.


  3. Boston Blackie says:

    “I have no problem with gay people. None whatsoever. What I do have a problem with, however, is scientists going overboard and finding themselves in a position in which they’re essentially playing God, especially when the benefits are theoretical or marginally beneficial.”

    Jeff- I agree, sometimes I think scientists go to far. Somethings should be left in God’s hands.

    Sophie – Your comments brought me to tears, it was beautiful and heart breaking at the same time. Maybe it is the mother in me but I just want to give you a big bear hug. I hope when you did find the strength to tell your parents, it was no big deal for them. I consider myself a religious catholic yet I can’t even imagine not loving my child unconditionally for ANY reason. Thank you for sharing a small part of who you are and THANK YOU for your service. I appreciate what you did for our great country.
    I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and opinions with us. The banter is always enjoyable around here!

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