Medical treatment carries possible side effect of limiting homosexuality

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    Sep 07, 2010 11:18 PM GMT
    A prenatal pill for congenital adrenal hyperplasia to prevent ambiguous genitalia may reduce the chance that a female with the disorder will be gay. Critics call it engineering for sexual orientation.

    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.

    The hormonal treatment "theoretically can influence postnatal behavior, not just genital differentiation," said Ken Zucker, psychologist in chief of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, who studies gender identity. "Some people refer to girls with CAH as experiments of nature because you've got this condition and you can take advantage of studying it."

    Complicating the situation is the fact that the daily hormone pill does nothing to treat or cure the underlying condition, caused in this case by a defective enzyme in the adrenal gland.


    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/aug/15/science/la-sci-adrenal-20100815
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    Sep 08, 2010 1:31 AM GMT
    This could get interesting:

    The same folks who dislike experimenting with fetal stem cells... just might take a shine to the thought of "curing" homosexuality with a few sticks of a needle or popping a few pills.
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    Sep 08, 2010 1:31 AM GMT
    Sexual orientation, particularly homosexuality, is a very complex and poorly understood (biologically) characteristic that likely depends on ridiculously many genetic, developmental, and environmental factors. I highly doubt that any single drug or concoction of drugs will ever be able to truly "control" a person's sexual preferences.
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    Sep 08, 2010 9:59 AM GMT
    halogen8 saidSexual orientation, particularly homosexuality, is a very complex and poorly understood (biologically) characteristic that likely depends on ridiculously many genetic, developmental, and environmental factors. I highly doubt that any single drug or concoction of drugs will ever be able to truly "control" a person's sexual preferences.


    Or, there's probably a simple answer, especially during gestation, that we haven't found yet due to obvious limitations...like not being able to have much control over pregnant women.
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    Sep 08, 2010 10:49 AM GMT


    On another site I post on regularly we've had many of those "if there was a pill to turn you straight, would you take it?"

    Surprisingly the response was about 50 / 50.

    I think you could ask the question again, and say if you had the choice, going through the expereinces that you went through, would you want your child to be gay?
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    Sep 08, 2010 11:13 AM GMT
    Thisuserexists saidI think you could ask the question again, and say if you had the choice, going through the expereinces that you went through, would you want your child to be gay?


    It's not so much a matter of "i wanna be straight so I'm not teased" considering most West countries are continuously veering more toward accepting homosexuality. But a lot of people would want to become straight for the mere convenience. Personally, I would much rather be attracted to a population where I have roughly a potential 95% reciprocation rate, not 5%.
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    Sep 08, 2010 11:32 AM GMT
    JAKEBENSON said
    Thisuserexists saidI think you could ask the question again, and say if you had the choice, going through the experiences that you went through, would you want your child to be gay?


    Personally, I would much rather be attracted to a population where I have roughly a potential 95% reciprocation rate, not 5%.


    Can you explain this?



    Also,

    Generally the responses I've seen aren't really about being teased, it was more about being able to have children (biologically) etc. If I pushed my mother, who is fully accepting of me, would she prefer if I was straight, if I really pushed her she would say yes.

    It's an alround easier life, no one can deny that.
  • MuscleComeBac...

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    Sep 08, 2010 12:02 PM GMT
    Well I'll deny that it's all around easier! If my life has been difficult for me, it's almost entirely because of choices that I made personally, not biological circumstances. Being a gay man is a blessing, and I cannot imagine anything that's been more of a positive in my life.
    When friends sit around and talk about the philosophical or spiritual question of reincarnation, it actually depresses the fuck out of me to think about coming back as straight. I'd feel robbed of such happiness and pleasure. I am exceedingly happy being a gay man. I love my masculinity and I love men and I love how I express my masculinity through affection and intimacy - emotional and spiritual and intellectual as well as sexual - with another man. The pleasure that I get is so profoundly rich that to have it denied to me seems criminal! I wouldn't trade it for anything in spite of all of the moments in which it's been other people's issue. It has never nor will it ever be mine and to think that somebody could take that away from me chills me to the bone. No doubt many guys will counter my admittedly hyperbolic response, but I am certain deep down in my very core that no matter how you might alter my "masculine or feminine qualities" in the womb, you will never be able to alter my being gay, and to play with that idea in a scientific - let alone social setting, feels like sanctioned murder to me.
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    Sep 08, 2010 12:35 PM GMT
    Thisuserexists said
    It's an alround easier life, no one can deny that.


    Being straight is not easier.. it is different. We face different challenges, but challenges exist in both lifestyles.

    If it were easier, there would not be a ton of straight people in therapy working out issues with their families, friends and lovers. Divorce rates would also not be as high as they are today.

    It seems people always think the grass is greener.

    Thisuserexists said
    I pushed my mother, who is fully accepting of me, would she prefer if I was straight, if I really pushed her she would say yes.


    Do you know how many people feel bad that they were unable to live up to the expectations of their parents? How many parents wanted to live vicariously through their children as doctors, lawyers, athletes and entertainers? How many children do not speak with their parents as a result of their inability to live up to their parents expectations?

    Gays do not own parental disappointment.

    It is difficult to be gay, and if given your personal situation you would prefer to be straight, that's okay. Being straight may indeed be easier for you and others as individuals. This is a personal issue, but please don't romanticize being straight.

    We are all individuals that are responsible for creating the lives we want to live.
  • MuscleComeBac...

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    Sep 08, 2010 12:46 PM GMT
    creyente said
    Thisuserexists said
    It's an alround easier life, no one can deny that.


    Being straight is not easier.. it is different. We face different challenges, but challenges exist in both lifestyles.


    We are all individuals that are responsible for creating the lives we want to live.


    QFT
  • Timbales

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    Sep 08, 2010 12:52 PM GMT
    In my opinion, the absolute belief of some people that one is born gay/homosexual and the desire to prove it shouldn't override a desire to have a child born healthy and with normally shaped genitalia.
  • MuscleComeBac...

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    Sep 08, 2010 1:12 PM GMT
    Timberoo saidIn my opinion, the absolute belief of some people that one is born gay/homosexual and the desire to prove it shouldn't override a desire to have a child born healthy and with normally shaped genitalia.


    True. But try telling that to anybody who's going to want to regulate the use of this drug. Even if the medical community insists that there be clear and compelling evidence that the fetus is at risk for the condition before the drug is administered to the mother, I can see how ignorant right wing freaks in physicians coats will insist that their clients and patients have this drug regardless of their inability to get compelling evidence that it should be used. This is a dangerous tool.
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    Sep 08, 2010 1:13 PM GMT
    @Jake, yep, it would be easier FINDING a partner in the first place

    @thisuserexists... I agree being straight would just be easier, because it makes you just normal

    @creyente thanks again for you positive thoughts about it, but I personaly feel I do experience problems in society that straight people do not... and no benefits at all.... its a nice thought, but I dont think we are responsible for how our lives turn out, any less than we are responsible for having determined our own gender and sexual orientation, or even skin colour in the womb.. but yeah, im a cynic

    --------------

    I feel the main problem here is ethics, as in engineering... it is again a question of "gender norm" where we live in a society that expects people to be a specific gender along with orientation.... in some societies, hermaphroditism is worshipped as being divine (the main god is usually considered "whole" or having both male and female aspects in divine union)

    However, could it be wrong to give someone a pill to make sure the child is consistent with "norms"? Who has decided the "norm"? If we give pregnant women folic acid to prevent spine deformities at birth... arent we also simply trying to prevent a deviation from a "norm"... (the norm of physical health) and what would the person itself think... would you prefer being born with a possibly life-threatening spine deformity just because its unethical to "engineer" children?

    And what about "engineering" itself? Dont our parents all choose a partner based on desirable traits, arent we attracted to partners whose traits we would prefer in our children (speaking from a heterosexual standpoint, bear with me).. dont we choose intelligence in a partner, and physical power, so our children can be smart and strong? All animals do it.... is this not a form of "engineering"??

    The question is really then... where can we draw the line??
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    Sep 08, 2010 1:28 PM GMT
    amar_m said
    @creyente thanks again for you positive thoughts about it, but I personaly feel I do experience problems in society that straight people do not... and no benefits at all.... its a nice thought, but I dont think we are responsible for how our lives turn out, any less than we are responsible for having determined our own gender and sexual orientation, or even skin colour in the womb.. but yeah, im a cynic


    You know I'm a big fan of yours amar_m, but you do tend to look at the glass half empty and only from your personal perspective.

    I don't want to continue to derail this thread, but if you would like to start another one on this topic, I'll be glad to contribute. icon_wink.gif
  • Anto

    Posts: 2035

    Sep 08, 2010 1:39 PM GMT
    People would also be using the technology to make their children gay as well though.
    I bet if there were a way to make babies gay or not the gay population would actually increase. It would also make the issue of human rights more evident as well.