If anyone saw the play Twilight of the Golds by Jonathon Tolins, they saw a play about what would happen if parents had an in utero test to determine if a child were gay. In the play, it was just a supposition. A new study puts this choice potentially in the tangible world:
…the techniques could one day be adapted for human use, with doctors perhaps being able to offer parents pre-natal tests to determine the likely sexuality of offspring or a hormonal treatment to change the orientation of a child.
That excerpt is from an article in Britain’s The Sunday Times. The article, entitled Science told: hands off gay sheep; Experiments that claim to ‘cure’ homosexual rams spark anger opened as follows:
Scientists are conducting experiments to change the sexuality of “gay” sheep in a programme that critics fear could pave the way for breeding out homosexuality in humans.The technique being developed by American researchers adjusts the hormonal balance in the brains of homosexual rams so that they are more inclined to mate with ewes.
It raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual. Experts say that, in theory, the “straightening” procedure on humans could be as simple as a hormone supplement for mothers-to-be, worn on the skin like an anti-smoking nicotine patch.
The research is being accomplished here in the United States at Oregon State University.
The article highlights that Martina Navratilova and gay rights campaigners in Britain want the program to be discontinued.
Navratilova defended the “right” of sheep to be gay. She said: “How can it be that in the year 2006 a major university would host such homophobic and cruel experiments?” She said gay men and lesbians would be “deeply offended” by the social implications of the tests.
The social implications…What would the world look like if your parents knew everything about *you* before *you* were born?
If, as the article suggests, one could possibly be “cured” of homosexuality with a hormone shot in utero, would *you* have wanted your parents to give *you* that shot? You wouldn’t have had a choice. And, in the present most ex-gay and ex-gay affirming organizations argue against a biological connection to being gay — if there were an in utero “cure,” how would their tune change?
Perhaps an even more disturbing thought would be what would happen if scientists develop a test but can’t develop a “cure?” J. Michael Bailey, Ph.D. (with Aaron Greenberg) argued that screening for and aborting gay fetuses is “morally acceptable” and a matter of parental rights.
So on a personal level if your parents had this test available to them and knew *you* were going to be going to grow up gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or intersexed, would *LGBTI you* even be here?
These are all interesting questions that may be real choices for parents and real issues for ex-gay/ex-gay affirming organizations in the relatively near future.
And by the way, in the play Twilight of the Golds, the fictional parents aborted the gay child. Whether via in utero hormone shots or by abortion — I think the writers of the play got it right. I believe there’ll be fewer LGBTI folk in the future if parents were able to find out we were coming before we were born. I may live to see the day that belief is tested.
*****January 9, 2006 Update*****
Holy cow Batman! This story, in how it was reported in the Sunday Times, has taken a b(l)eating! Commenter Kendall pointed out that Andrew Sullivan (on his popular blog) has posted communication from the Oregon research team which refutes the points made in the Sunday Times.
It’s so interesting — the implications on this as reported by the Sunday Times article are extremely significant, but the problem with the conclusions drawn in the article may be may be found in apparently flawed Sunday Times reporting of the basic facts. So much for mainstream journalism on this story!