The L.A. Times reports that a prenatal treatment for congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) to prevent ambiguous genitalia may reduce the chance that a female with the disorder will be gay. Critics as you can imagine call it sexual orientation engineering.
The condition causes an accumulation of male hormones and can, in females, lead to genitals so masculinized that it can be difficult at birth to determine the baby’s gender.
A hormonal treatment to prevent ambiguous genitalia can now be offered to women who may be carrying such infants. It’s not without health risks, but to its critics those are of small consequence compared with this notable side effect: The treatment might reduce the likelihood that a female with the condition will be homosexual. Further, it seems to increase the chances that she will have what are considered more feminine behavioral traits. [Id.]
We remember Caster Semenya (supra), the world champion South African middle-distance runner, who was subjected to gender verification tests and later cleared. Genital and gender ambiguity had never been so clinically analyzed and discussed in public fora. The closest we had come was the “trailblazing” efforts of SNL character Pat whose sexual ambiguity was reclassified to the more artful androgynous.
The issues and topics I address that are inspired by this article are inter alia:
- Whether homosexuality is a pathology that should be selected out in utero, if possible;
- Whether discussions anent sexual orientation causation create the aura of pathology;
- The homologous nature of genitalia and pudenda;
- Gender versus sexual orientation identity and reference;
- The bioethical considerations in sexual orientation “tinkering”; and
- Bioethical considerations and issues in selecting out and against myriad congenital conditions that may not be pathological or deleterious to a child’s health but may be nothing more than cosmetic variations.