Research into hormone treatment for fetuses that are intersex has been ongoing, courtesy of a female pediatric endocrinologist and a psychologist interested in the role hormones play in homosexuality. They are busily testing this hypothesis in pregnant women as we speak by injecting them with a hormone affectionately referred to as "dex."

Well, pediatric endocrinologists Drs. New and Nimkarn have indicated that this could also be a great treatment for preventing the following in the adult woman:

  1. "Low maternal instinct"
  1. Career orientation rather than baby-orientation
  1. Behavior that is not gender-normative and is "masculine"
  1. Homosexuality

It's always nice to wake up to science hell-bent on eradicating people like you because you're an "abnormal."

The Hastings article on the research states:

In a paper published just this year in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, New and her colleague, pediatric endocrinologist Saroj Nimkarn of Weill Cornell Medical College, go further, constructing low interest in babies and men – and even interest in what they consider to be men’s occupations and games – as "abnormal," and potentially preventable with prenatal dex:

"Gender-related behaviors, namely childhood play, peer association, career and leisure time preferences in adolescence and adulthood, maternalism, aggression, and sexual orientation become masculinized in 46,XX girls and women with 21OHD deficiency [CAH]. These abnormalities have been attributed to the effects of excessive prenatal androgen levels on the sexual differentiation of the brain and later on behavior." Nimkarn and New continue: "We anticipate that prenatal dexamethasone therapy will reduce the well-documented behavioral masculinization . . .

Researchers are defending this on two assumptive grounds.  One, that intersex individuals need fixing before they can reasonably consent, and two, that non-traditional "female" behavior and homosexuality are problematic.

The fact that Dr. New is a glass-ceiling busting pediatric endocrinologist (a typically male field) lends a whole new, ironic layer to the mess.  AICLegal is very proud of themselves, because they lobbied The Endocrine Society Council until they stated that the treatment is "experimental" and should only be used in conjunction with an Institutional Review Board (IRB).

However, this assurance is simply insufficient.  You can get an IRB to agree to just about anything. IRBs are dependent on the culture of your institution.  The Endocrine Society has very little information on ethics on their website, and seems to define "ethics" as "conflict of interest."

This is nothing short of frightening.  I rarely get goosebumps or feel personally at risk due to emerging bioethics policy.  This is why we must absolutely designate a certain amount of research dollars to bioethics research and oversight.  It is hard to take this kind of research at face value -- supposedly trying to improve quality of life for individuals who are born intersex -- when the very researchers themselves indicate that this could "cure" something that they personally find abnormal above and beyond the stated goal of the research.

I would also like to point out that this treatment is in human trials.  This means there are pregnant women volunteering for the hormone injections now.  Having a child who isn't gay, doesn't want to get married, isn't childfree/childless by choice, and doesn't hate pink is THAT important to some people; they would rather risk unknown side effects than have any of those outcomes.

This is not all right with me.  My choice to not have children and be career oriented, I know, is offensive to some people.  But that's my choice and it doesn't hurt other people.  These people want to take away my choice to live my life as I choose before I'm even born.  If that's not socially conservative eugenics, I don't know what is.

Originally posted to Janusdog on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 06:50 AM PDT.

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