For the past few years, pediatric endocrinologist Maria New has studied a drug called dexamethasone and its effects on Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, a condition that can cause female newborns to have deformed “masculine” genitals. New has also touted the drug’s ability to prevent “abnormal” female behaviors like interest in “men’s professions”, a low desire to have kids, and attraction to women. It just might be a wonder drug to prevent new generations of Ellens. But given how how badly society treats queer kids, maybe we should give parents a break if they want it?
Of course not.
New has been administering dexamethasone to pregnant women without clinical data about the drug’s potential risks and without the oversight and approval of a medical ethics committee. That’s not altogether uncommon, nor is New’s research on the drugs’ long-term psycho-sexual effects. Since dexamethasone affects genital development, she’d be derelict in her duty to ignore the drug’s long-term impact on her patients. Also, there’s no evidence that New has administered the drug as a cure for lesbian kids. But once FDA puts a drug on the market, doctors can prescribe it for anything they see fit.
That New, one of the first female pediatric endocrinologists, labels lesbianism and an interest in “men’s professions” as “abornmal female behavior” is, however, quite troubling. Queers have long worried that the discovery of a “gay gene” could pave the way for eugenicists to “cure” homosexuality as a birth defect (kinda like curing blackness). But any parent who uses their doctor like a fortune teller and takes drugs to squash their unborn child’s potential gayness shouldn’t have kids to begin with. Any doctor who agrees shouldn’t practice medicine.
None of the ethics, however, remove the warranted curiosity that surrounds New’s research, which ultimately suggests there is indeed a biological root for sexuality.