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Enter Frankenstein

queen_mamidala first alerted me to this. Five minutes after I saw it there, Michelangelo Signorile was talking about it on his show.

Bioethics Forum: Preventing Homosexuality (and Uppity Women) in the Womb?

What started as a legitimate trial of a drug to prevent a physical medical condition has turned into something else.

Users of this potentially dangerous drug are not being enrolled in "controlled clinical trials," including follow-up studies, which has raised red flags among the scientists' peers. Also, there is not clear evidence that patients given this drug are informed that it is experimental and possibly unsafe.

What most gays have said all along is that they were born that way; it wasn't a choice. Now, rogue scientists, against the recommendations of their peers, are experimenting with a steroid, to try to prevent at least female gays - and females with "documented behavioral masculinization."

Quote from the authors: "We think Nimkarn and New’s “paradigm for prenatal diagnosis and treatment” suggests a reason why activists for gay and lesbian rights should be wary of believing that claims for the innateness of homosexuality will lead to liberation. Evidence that homosexual orientation is inborn could, instead, very well lead to new means of pathologization and prevention, as it seems to be in the case we’ve been tracking.

"Needless to say, we do not think it reasonable or just to use medicine to try to prevent homosexual and bisexual orientations. Nor do we think it reasonable to use medicine to prevent uppity women, like the sort who might raise just these kinds of alarms. Consider that our declaration of our conflict of interest."

This experiment is trying to prevent more people like me: a straight woman who has never been interested in motherhood or in some of the stereotypical "heterosexual norms," as referred to in this study.

I rather like me this way, and I'm very grateful I was allowed to just be. I wish it was the case for everyone.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 5th, 2010 03:46 am (UTC)
I read about this recently too. It really pissed me off; it's absurd enough to try preventing homosexuality, but trying to make females conform to supposed "feminine" norms such as wanting to get married and have children? That's messed up. On so many levels.
Jul. 5th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
This new right-wing "anti-feminism-while-living-a-non-tradional-life" attitude is just scary.

What is feminine? What is masculine? Why can't we just be?
Jul. 5th, 2010 09:19 am (UTC)
I read this not long ago, the whole thing is disgusting in more ways than I can detail here.
Jul. 5th, 2010 01:32 pm (UTC)
Indeed. People can't accept that each of us is unique - and just leave it at that. We all have to be the same.
Jul. 5th, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC)
Enter Frankenstein, indeed! The whole thing is horrific.
Jul. 5th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
Yes. Frightening.
Jul. 5th, 2010 02:59 pm (UTC)
Follow the money, who is funding this? This is not a problem that needs fixing. How about fixing autism or CF?
Jul. 5th, 2010 03:57 pm (UTC)
I can't tell from the various articles I've read how it's funded. The researchers are affiliated with different universities.

I think there was always a forboding that someone would try to "cure" homosexuality with something besides scripture, faith, and prayer. Although that's bad enough.

Some people just can't deal with those who live and think outside their definition of "normal."
Jul. 5th, 2010 04:44 pm (UTC)
University = TAX dollars...

What bunch of waste.
Jul. 6th, 2010 02:36 am (UTC)
Tax dollars exclusively? If a pharmacutical company sees potential in a drug being tested, would they not fund certain studies? And if a drug can be used more widely, would that encourage such funding?

Jul. 6th, 2010 02:41 am (UTC)
Big Pharma might keep that in house. Although donations may be corporate, not sure how that's handled in universities. Then, who owns the research?
Jul. 6th, 2010 10:13 am (UTC)
Well, we have a capitalist health system, so I have a guess. ;P
Jul. 5th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC)
A couple of points:

Dexamethasone is hardly what could be called a "dangerous drug." It's a commonly used anti-inflammatory, a cortisone derivative. It is not contraindicated in pregnancy. Perhaps in high doses, but the article does not specify that.

CAH is a birth defect, a genetic mishap. The implication in this column seems to be that all gay people are the result of a birth defects, which I don't think is the intended message. No, the medical research here is an effort to minimize the acknowledged severe effects that such a genetic syndrome visits on the child, NOT to make them into a baby-loving female slave. To suggest more is to extrapolate far beyond what is actually happening. There are so many qualifiers in this column that no one should come away with anything besides the fact that researchers have no sure facts to report, but only theories and possibilities.

One would think that all who believe that gayness is inherent from conception would be far more active in the pro-life community. After all, genetic testing done in order to detect and eliminate undesirable children is an actuality right now. Most of the time the child killed is an unwanted girl, a Down syndrome child, or a child with cystic fibrosis, but if the genetic marker for homosexuality is ever detected, how long do you think it will be before that knowledge is used in ways not necessarily desired?

*steps off pharmacy and pro-life soapbox*

Jul. 6th, 2010 02:32 am (UTC)
I realize your pharmacy credentials make you more of an expert than me. However, this article is written by three peers of the doctors in question, therefore I believe it is worthy of the attention I am giving to it.

The idea that "all gay people are the result of birth defects" is not something that is implied in this article at all, as far as I'm concerned. I have not seen that idea discussed anywhere, and I've seen several commentaries on this story. So no, that is not the issue.

The research may well be worth pursuing, but the implication here is that it is going beyond what the original intent is, and that the proper controls for such research are not being used.

It is a question of ethics.

The "theories and possibilities" as quoted by Dr. New are chilling, and do imply exactly what you are dismissing.

The possibility of a child being aborted because it is gay is a whole other topic I won't go into here, except to say don't think it hasn't crossed my mind. And surrogate pregnancy that lessens the odds of unwanted homosexuality in male children is already happening.
Jul. 6th, 2010 03:46 am (UTC)
Well, I still think this piece is reading far too much into what is actually being studied at the moment. Most medical research is full of "possibly" and "may cause" and "could result in" and "might lead to"-- it's all medical theorizing, not proof of intent.

On a second reading - albeit a fast one - it appears the authors are taking issue with the fact that doctors are using dexamethasone for an "off-label" indication; that is, they're using it for a condition that is not approved by the FDA. Off-label prescribing is a common, everyday experience, mainly because the FDA is so far behind in approving new drugs and indications that many patients would suffer needlessly if doctors waited for official permission to prescribe already-approved medication for an unapproved indication. This is perfectly legal (so far) and for the most part unremarkable. As a side note, I subscribe to a pharmacy continuing education journal that frequently discusses such off-label uses so we can keep up with new uses and indications for existing medications.

Also, the authors take umbrage that dexamethasone is being used in studies without following some official research guideline. Again, this is not something to really get exercised about, for much medical research is done this way. Perhaps results are less than fully reproducible than those coming from standardized methods, but, again, such is the state of medical research. A lot of medical discoveries just happen in day-to-day prescribing situations. Kind of an extrapolation of off-label uses, I suppose...? And follow-up studies in this case aren't possible yet - how could they be? - the children affected have yet to reach maturity.

Frankly, I suspect the use of dexamethasone is probably intended to block/offset the deleterious effects of prenatal exposure to high levels of adrenal hormones, rather than to cause a sexual change. Yes, naturally occurring cortisol type hormones are chemically related to estrogen and testosterone - we all have both testosterone and estrogen in our bodies, just in varying amounts and proportions, and both hormones are created by the body via cortisol (if I remember my biochemistry right, it's been years). So if the intent was to create a certain sexual effect, it would seem more logical to use the actual sex hormone responsible for the effect, rather than wasting time with dexamethasone, which is hardly what one could call a sex hormone.

Which is my point. The research AS IS does not lead to the conclusions reached in the article. One can project and posit and surmise all day long about all kinds of further research beyond what is being done now, but to claim the purpose is to prevent homosexual children is a stretch. The use of the phrase "preventing uppity women" doesn't lend much of a science-based aura to the subject matter, either. That's all I'm saying.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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