Monday, August 16, 2010

Curing lebianism?

The LA Times had an article yesterday about a medical treatment that brings up an interesting philosophical question. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is a rare condition in which a girl may develop "ambiguous genitalia," looking like they have a penis, which could, for some girls, be embarrassing. Something like a quarter of girls with this condition are lesbians.

But there is a treatment. It doesn't cure the underlying adrenal dysfunction, but it makes the girl develop normal looking female genitalia. (I guess I should  say "more typical genitalia.") It also has a side effect of feminizing the girls, making them girly-girls. And reducing the incidence of lesbianism to that of society at large.

The Times says gay and lesbian groups are outraged that any treatment that would reduce the incidence of homosexuality would even be considered.

I think they are wrong to be outraged. If gayness and straightness are morally equal (a proposition I'm not prepared to debate), then the issue is whether having ambiguous genitalia is harmful to girls. People vary, and some girls probably learn to deal with it. For others, it probably ruins their lives. My own guess is it would cause more withdrawal than zits or fat or stuttering ever could, and if we can prevent it, we should.

If a treatment for a fetal heart defect increased the percentage of girls born lesbian to 10%, I would have no problem with that. If an otherwise valid medical treatment happens to reduce the number of lesbians among these girls to societal levels, that's a situation, not a problem. Being a lesbian is not morally superior to being straight. The treatment is not to prevent lesbianism but to keep girls from growing a penis.

And these are not your kids. When your daughter has congenital adrenal hyperplasia, you talk with your doctors and decide what to do about your kids. Let these other mothers do what they think is best for their kids.

No comments:

Post a Comment