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Pregnant Women Being Given Experimental Drug to Breed Girly Girls

By Sierra Black |

A pediatrician in Florida is giving preggo patients experimental hormone treatments in the hopes of preventing their future daughters from becoming lesbians.This isn’t quite what I had in mind when I suggested that more drugs should be tested on pregnant women.

The hormone, dexamethasone (also called  “dex”), has not been shown to be safe for pregnant women or their unborn children. The FDA hasn’t approved it for use in pregnant women, but a few researchers think it shows promise in preventing “ambiguous genitalia” in babies: genitals that are neither clearly male nor female.

Maria New and her colleagues at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine are taking it a step further, and experimenting to see if the drug can prevent lesbianism in girl babies. They also hope to “help” girls grow up to be wives and mothers. Their dream is to find a cure not only for queerness, but also for an “abnormal” disinterest in babies, marriage and “women’s work”.

New and her crew pathlogize a disinterest in marriage, a lack of desire to play with dolls and even the pursuit of a traditionally “masculine” career (like, say, being a research scientist). In a presentation on her work, New showed a slide of a baby born with ambiguous genitals, and said:

“The challenge here is… to see what could be done to restore this baby to the normal female appearance which would be compatible with her parents presenting her as a girl, with her eventually becoming somebody’s wife, and having normal sexual development, and becoming a mother. And she has all the machinery for motherhood, and therefore nothing should stop that, if we can repair her surgically and help her psychologically to continue to grow and develop as a girl.”

Now, stop me if I missed something, but I thought we were past the days when “becoming somebody’s wife” was a major life goal for our daughters. I certainly won’t pathologize my kids if they choose not to marry, or if they marry someone of the same sex.

If these kids have a physical anomaly or a hormonal imbalance that is going to cause medical problems for them in the future, I’m all for medical research to help with that. But confusing “lack of interest in babies” with “medical problems” is pretty freaking creepy. Especially when it’s being used as a rationale for experimenting on pregnant women with untested drugs.

Photo: Natalie Lucier

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About Sierra Black


Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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17 thoughts on “Pregnant Women Being Given Experimental Drug to Breed Girly Girls

  1. bob says:

    Once again, Florida.

  2. Andrea says:

    Is this some kind of ill-timed April Fool’s Day joke? Because I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this could possibly be true.

  3. Laure68 says:

    How in the world did they get approval for such a study?

  4. Maggie says:

    Someday maybe we can make it illegal for anyone to do cosmetic surgery on an unconsenting child. Adults who were born with ambiguous genitals overwhelmingly express the wish that they’d been left alone — “as God made me,” according to one — and given the chance to choose what surgical alteration, if any, at adulthood.

    Considering the side effects and multiple surgeries caused by scarring and the natural changes of aging, it seems like a much better idea to first do no harm.

  5. LindaLou says:

    So disturbing. Honestly, I’m surprised Babble isn’t censoring your post on this. The other post on gender disappeared, because apparently Babble readers are a stupid bunch who are only interested in which dumb-as-dirt model dissed breatfeeding today. We can’t handle anything of real substance, and g-d forbid gender politics or sexual organs are involved.

  6. jenny tries too hard says:

    Seriously? Sick.

  7. Andrea says:

    What disturbs me (in addition to everything else) is the way the doctor builds passivity into the way she talks about women. They’re not to ‘get a husband’ or ‘marry’, they’re to ‘become someone’s wife’.

  8. Rachel Shadoan says:

    How in the WORLD did that study get past an ethics committee? Where is the IRB? Even in Oklahoma I can’t imagine this being okayed as research. Way to go, Florida.

  9. Manjari says:

    This is so horrifying, it’s hard to believe it’s not a hoax.

  10. Newby says:

    Well good. My little tomboy daughter will have less competition for the Post-Doc in physics. Or, for her punk garage band or her construction company.

    Who are the mom’s who agreed to this? Again, if there is already a genetic issue that they are trying to solve I get this, but if not, what mom shows up for a study trying to make her unborn daughter more “girly”. (Not that there is anything wrong with girly girls if god made them that way).

  11. Leigh says:

    Between this and the disturbing news that female genital mutilation is happening to little girls at Cornell University (, I want to cry.

  12. jonexxx says:

    ok clearly this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve read in a long time. the 2 problems im having are a)this is just a more blatant way of discriminating the gay population/culture. To be so worried that your child may or may not be gay that you pump them full of hormones is absurd. and secondly, this may offend a few, but the whole “the way god made me” comments are equally as ridiculous as this situation as a whole. “GOD” didnt make anyone your mother and father created you. people need to learn how to separate “religion” from science

  13. JEssica says:

    I think I read a science article on the ethics of using this drug when both parents carry the gene for abnormal gentilia and the risk to the peanut was possible behavioral problems along the lines of not developing normal behavior. And this drug has to be given as soon as the possible. This is well before the sex of the baby can be determined. And I think when given to a male fetus, the boys born have premature penis development (not larger, just earlier) which is apparently a sign of nervous system problems. I find it hard to believe anyone would risk having a mentally development challenged child. I wonder if the risk are fully explained to the parents.

  14. [...] Is there anything wrong with designing sexuality? Friday, 2 July, 2010 Allegedly, Dr Maria New, a Florida doctor, is giving pregnant women a hormonal drug to prevent their [...]

  15. Joel says:

    It sounds like a terrific idea! No more gender hatred.

  16. [...] SD blogger Sierra reported last week that Maria New and her colleagues at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine have been experimenting with an off-label use of the hormone dexamethasone (aka “dex”), injecting pregnant women in order to prevent their daughters from “abnormal” gendered be….  [...]

  17. EponaBMORE says:

    Being gay is natural taking some rediculas hormone is unnatural! I WILL PROTEST AGAINST THIS!!!!!!!!

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