Summary: Expecting mothers who take thyroid medication or slimming pills containing the hormone thyroxine are eight times more likely to give birth to lesbian daughters than expecting mothers who do not. What does this mean for the gay community, for our understanding of sexual orientation, and for mankind at large?
Dunno; it may or may not be linked to whatever existing/natural processes also act upon sexual orientation; for example, in other words, it may be that this medication inhibits or enables some entirely novel biochemical process, that just happens to result in a change in sexual orientation that just happens to resemble the change in sexual orientation experienced by others for entirely different systemic reasons.
Or it may be that the medication invokes the same biochemical processes that can be invoked by other natural triggers, such as genetics or something/many things else.
One thing I think this does is to rather weaken the ‘it’s just a lifestyle choice’ argument.
Intereting article. Another question which arises is–hypothetically–if parents could control the factors which may influence the sexuality of their offspring, will they elect to have only heterosexual children?
If sufficient triggers which cause homosexuality in children are discovered, I would expect most heterosexual parents will avoid these factors (if not out of homophobia, then by a honest belief that their children will live a happier life). The obvious result would be a diminution in gay population over time. In the next century, will the gay culture of today be an historical curiosity?
As a gay man, I recoil from the idea that the culture which many (not all) gay men and women share may vanish someday. For many queers, there’s a real feeling of community, shared history and proud distinctiveness in being gay. Most gay people would never wish to be made straight, if it were posssible. Despite the difficulties in being gay, I admit it’s quite depressing to think that this community may be a historical flash in the pan.
I can’t help think, however, if I could select the sexuality (if only by avoiding certain triggers)my children that I may well choose for them to be straight. OTOH, I can see many gay parents selecting to bear gay children in order to preserve their culture. Will we see pregnant lesbians flocking to buy thyroxine? Will the focus of the question of whether homosexuality is a choice eventually shift from the gay person to their parents instead? Would it be wrong to deliberately choose to bear a gay child?
What does this mean? Obviously, it has a cause (just as heterosexuality and eye color and cancer and preference for chocolate ice cream over strawberry have causes). We just don’t have any idea what that cause (or causes) is or when (before conception, in the genes; in utero; after birth; etc.) it occurs.
I do agree, though, if a single risk factor for homosexual children is discovered, I imagine it will be avoided by many mothers, just as many avoid tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine now. It’s not easy for most people to be gay (not that being straight is such a picnic, but still).
Haven’t a number of factors contributing to homosexuality already been posited? I am not particularly knowledgeable in the matter but I am thinking of prenatal exposure to high levels of testosterone, as well as other prenatal neuroendocrine events, which result in male and female homosexuality (and, it is possible, physiology: from different ear canals to different index-ring fingers ratios).
Drugs that mess with the thyroid obviously affect with the endocrine system, which in turn may be what causes the prenatal neuroendocrine events that are suspected to affect a foetus’s sexual orientation.
If that is the case it’s a matter of better correlating existing data and firing up more studies to gain a better understanding of some of the factors that, it would seem according to my sketchy knowledge of the situation, cause homosexuality. At any rate it would already seem possible to influence the sexual orientation of a foetus, though probably not with a high degree of success.
But when we find something this concrete that does (or at least seems to) cause homosexuality, the step isn’t all that far to finding something to avoid homosexuality. I’m not saying I would like to do that (in fact I’d try to use the discovery to cause bisexuality in everyone; the world would be a much simpler place that way), but there are definitely people that would.
If it is a cause, I’d think any drug that affects a child so much should be banned. Not because I’m against homosexuality, but it just sounds dangerous in general. I’d feel the same about a drug that turns a gay fetus (if such thing can exist) to a straight one, or brown eyes to blue, or whatever.
If it can make one change, god knows what other things it might do to the fetus, like cause birth defects.
Question for the docs: has a drug ever been found to effect a fetus in any way, benign or not, that wasn’t taken off the market?
I, for one, welcome our gay child overlords.
Sereously, in my experience as a dad to two is that we try to avoid anything that messes with the natural development of the baby. This means we avoid nearly all medications, caffiene, etc. The suggestion that thyroxine taken as a drug alters one thing in the growing baby makes me wonder if it alters anything else.
However, this may be an important clue in understanding the origins and underlying mechanisms of human sexuality (not just homosexuality). I wonder, though, how long it will be before somebody tries to use this research to find a “cure” for those who have “got the gay”. I know we have had threads like “If you could change your sexuality, would you?” and most, if not all, GBL dopers answered no. Perhaps, though, gay teens and their parents might seek out a “straightening” treatment if it were developed. People have stated here in the past that they took a while to embrace their sexuality and were made to feel ashamed over it due to social pressure. I know for sure that this was the case with friends of mine back in school. If they could have changed, some would have.
So, would understanding the biological mechanisms of human sexuality benefit the open-minded or the closed-minded?