Friday, July 9, 2010

So This Doctor is Using an Experimental Drug On Pregnant Women to "Prevent Lesbianism" - Yikes! The Future is HERE and we need to FIGHT!!!

And while I wish this was something I was making up, sadly it's true.

It's some experimental drug, dexamethasone, and this doctor, Maria New, thinks she's doing a "good" thing by offering it to women who are pregnant to make sure their daughters grow up to express interest in "girly" pursuits - to avoid "behavioral masculinization" and make sure they don't grow up to be lesbians.

There is so much wrong with this, but I have to first rail against the consumerist context of the desire on anyone's part - any parent, any doctor - to tailor-order a child in the way we order a car, or lunch.

Already today, if you have a child via various assisted methods (like invitro), you can choose if you want to have a boy or girl.

And there are numerous tests you can have done while the baby is in utero to know if there are any genetic or chromosomal abnormalities.

And I suppose it's from this angle that Dr. New and her colleagues approach this new insurance-for-a-straight-gender-conforming-child medical intervention. They (and many others) equate homosexuality and gender non-conformity as abnormal - and thus something to eliminate.

But "abnormal" and "not conforming to the norm" is vastly different. (Being Gay is not a disease!)

This gets back to the whole Darwinian purpose for Gay people existing - the whole idea of gender non-conforming people enabling a culture and a society to think beyond the norms and move everyone forward. (This idea was explored in my post "Why are there Gay People?")

Dr. New and her drug are a bit like freaky science fiction that's become science fact, and it's sobering that we've yet again arrived at a place where humanity's science has outpaced our ethics, and just because we CAN do something doesn't mean we SHOULD do it.

Alice Dreger wrote about this, and she's spot-on:

Is having a child with a less-than-idealized identity or anatomy sometimes really hard? Yup. And when you sign up for parenting, that's part of what you're signing up for. You can't seriously expect your whole parenting experience to consist of softball trophies and bumper stickers that brag about your Honor Roll child. It is not your child's job in life to make you proud. It is your job to make your children proud of you as their parent.

Dan Savage wrote about Dr. New and her Drug Experiment, and he said it brilliantly:

So no more Elena Kagans, no more Donna Shalalas, no more Martina Navratilovas, no more k.d. langs, no more Constance McMillens—because all women must grow up to ... crank out babies, and do women's work. And the existence of adult women who are not interested in "becoming someone's wife" and "making babies" constitutes a medical emergency that requires us to treat women who are currently pregnant with a dangerous experimental hormone. Otherwise their daughters might grow up to, um, be nominated to sit on the Supreme Court, serve as cabinet secretaries, take 18 Grand Slam singles titles, win Grammies, and take their girlfriends to prom.

You can read more about this here at Dan Savage's The Stranger, and also Alice Dreger's article at Psychology Today.

It makes me want to scream - to rally - to FIGHT!

As Alice said,

But what do YOU think? Is there anything we can do about this - individually, and as a community of GLBTQ Teens and Allies?

Because I think we need to take action. We need our voices heard on this.

Because we Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Gender-Non-Conforming and Questioning people are important, necessary, and wonderful to have in our world. And we will NOT be erased!



fairyhedgehog said...

This is just so wrong. I'm appalled.

Homosexuality is not a "condition" to be "treated". And this kind of pigeon-holing of men's and women's roles is what I grew up with and it did me no favours at all.

This is bad.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine how little art, music, fashion, literature there would be if this had been possible in the past?

Michelle said...

First of all, using steroids on a pregnant woman is dangerous and this doctor should serously be sued for medical malpractice, let alone conducting research in a private practice.

Second of all, I cannot put into words how strongly I feel about this. I mean, are we going to start working on making sure all babies are white, next? Really, this is just insanity. And I don't know what to do about it but the first thing I AM going to do is look up this Dr. New on the Web and bombard her with email.

Thanks for posting this.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

A Doctor friend of mine, Andrew Kirschner commented on this post over at facebook, and it's so interesting I wanted to share it here:

"There's nothing new about dexamethasone- it's a corticosteroid that's been around for a long time. There's really no reason to suspect that this drug will do anything close to what they are suggesting it does- instead she is simply preying financially on the homophobic parents to be. Awful. Just plain awful for so many reasons."

thanks for sharing that, Andrew!

ivanova said...

The science is stupid. The ethics are horrendous. Messing around with the endocrine system is stupid. And even if it worked as intended, making girls femmey is not going to necessarily make them straight, so the whole idea is stupid as well as disgustingly bigoted. I am annoyed that this doctor wants to destroy my people in this eugenicist way.

Literate Housewife said...

I've never heard of such a thing and I'm glad that someone in my Google Reader highlighted this post. What the hell is so wrong with letting your child just be? If you're not willing to take a role of the genetic dice, do not get pregnant. Let the child be the miracle he/she is - no matter what he/she becomes. If life in all of it's variety is something to get inoculated against, why live?

Thanks for the great post.

Jay Asher said...

Thanks for talking about this, Lee. It's a truly disgusting road this doctor is heading down.

Sara W.E. said...

I think that there are 2 different issues here and I feel a little uncomfortable seeing them tangled up together. One issue is this clearly 'bad science,'horribly homophobic 'treatment.' It is disgusting, and outrage definitely feels like the right response.

But the second issue is not so straight forward. Lee, you threw chromosomal testing in with this conversation and it seems to me to be another subject entirely. There are a lot of legitimately horrific chromosomal problems out there. Ones that only lead to pain and death. Whether people believe chromosomal testing, and the choice it gives parents, is right or wrong, seems like a completely different discussion. And I'm definitely not suggesting that it needs to be discussed here. Only that it seems unfair to bluntly group these issues together. To group homophobic hatred with parents who face health decisions about their children with love in their heart.

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Hi Sara,
I completely agree with you - and I have nothing against chromosomal tests for problems - my issue is categorizing queerness as a problem.

I'm sorry if I seemed to lump them all together - it was not my intention. And yes, that would be a separate discussion.

Thanks for giving me the chance to clarify that!

Laurie Young said...

Thanks for posting this, Lee. It's so bizarre to think that things like this are really happening. Rent the movie, "Twilight of the Golds" which came out over a decade ago and deals with this very issue. To think that pregnant women would fall for this, just breaks my heart. Plus, since the world is dangerously overcrowded and unsustainable now, why should we encourage people who don't want children to procreate?

Steph said...

Well, I do agree the whole thing is stupid because sexual orientation/gender expression should be the least of a parent's concerns when having a child. However, as I am often tempted to play devil's advocate (maybe because I'm not straight and habitually defy the norm, ha!) I do recall reading a similar article in Time magazine a few years ago, written by a gay man, who made the interesting point that, if such treatment became scientifically viable and commercially available, the most it would likely do would be to prevent gay children being born into families who do not want gay children. Thus, as long as such treatment remained optional, would it be such a bad thing?

Of course, in the end this might just create more homophobia and fuel hatred towards those people who allow their children to be born gay. Controlling homosexuality is not the solution.

I also do not think that there is a way to genetically or chemically control a persons sexual orientation. It is far more complex than just "gay" or "straight" - what causes a person to be "bisexual" or "fluid"? And what about transgendered or intersexed people? Would they still be around, or would they be the next to be prevented by experimental drugs?

Still, I am somewhat inspired to get my gay dystopia story out of cold storage and give it another try...

Anonymous said...

My first thought was Whaaa?? How did this make it pass the ethics committee? Medical research on human beings is strongly regulated. But one of the links implies that the ethics committees may have been bypassed?

There's an even bigger problem here than homophobia, big and revolting as that problem is: the very arrogance of thinking that we ought to Stepfordize people, to control their very interests and preferences to conform with ours, even to the point of trying to make them want to play with baby dolls. Talk about control issues!

Anonymous said...

This is so wrong on so many levels: blatant homophobia, commercialization of a homophobic products, genetic engineering, gender pigeon-holing, labels, shady ethics, and shady science... I wouldn't know where to start. I think your post really encompass the main problems with it, and it's great to know that it's also, very, very fake. Besides, isn't part of a being a parent dealing with the unknown. Besides, even if a parents get the list of things they want in a kid (color, gender, assured sexual orientation), they still can't chose their child personality and god knows what they could have to deal with. It's part of the job. That sort of selection is not only wrong, it's useless. Parents will always have to learn to deal with their children personality and preference, that are often completely different then their own. Sexual orientation and how feminine a child is is only a small detail in that great mix of what makes us human being.

I will mention that I was a bit disturbed by the allegation that "girly-girl" automatically mean stay at home women, housewives or that even that those things are wrong, or low. Or that gay don't want children or have little interest in that. Gay men might not be able to give birth but it doesn't mean that they want kid. And plenty of lesbian not only can but do have children. I don't think it was meant that way, but it sounded odd to me.

Thank you so much for sharing this very important bit of news.

Denise Doyen said...

I would wonder all of my daughter's life who she was REALLY meant to be -- a confident athlete? a good math student? a forceful debater? And how could a mom enjoy a bedroom awash in pink and glitter (which it might have been anyway) and a demure little person playing tea party without some nagging guilt about whose Party the whole scene really was. What a haunting decision; it's literally mind-altering intervention. I predict there will be many sad stories arising from this practice.
"You had me pre-girlyfied?!"