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