New Sexuality and Gender Scholarship Undermines Global LGBT Policy

By | August 25, 2016

NEW YORK, August 26 (C-Fam) A review of more than 200 scientific articles on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transsexual (LGBT) health undermines common assumptions used in the effort to create international LGBT laws and policies.

The special report comes at a time when LGBT advocates are making inroads at the United Nations. Published in the journal The New Atlantis, it finds no scientific support for the widespread notion that persons who experience same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria are just “born that way.”

“Some of the most widely held views about sexual orientation, such as the ‘born that way’ hypothesis, simply are not supported by science,” write the authors of the report Lawrence S. Mayer and Paul R. McHugh of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. McHugh was for twenty-five years the psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The report also debunks the popular notion that gender identity is an “innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex.” That assumption is at the heart of attempts to establish sexual orientation and gender identity as categories of non-discrimination in international law.

Most recently, the UN Human Rights Council narrowly adopted a highly divisive resolution to begin to include the notions of sexual orientation and gender identity as human rights issues in the UN system.

In the last three years UN secretariat and agencies have espoused the popular view in developed countries that individuals are “born that way” and that these characteristics are biologically based, innate and fixed properties of human beings, with a special focus on children.

The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, among others, has recommended lowering the age of consent of minors to homosexual acts and removing any criminal penalties to such acts, and the World Health Organization is now seeking to change “transgender” from a psychological condition known as “gender dysphoria,” and requiring psychological attention, to a medical one, requiring surgery and hormone treatment instead.

Mayer and McHugh’s report raises questions about this kind of advocacy, especially for children.

Persons affected by same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria “show higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide compared to the general population,” according to the report. Social stress and stigma attached to homosexuality and transsexualism are unable and unlikely to account for all of this disparity according to the authors. The authors conclude that much research is still needed.

While unable to find a causal link between sex abuse and non-heterosexuality, the authors highlight how the scientific literature documents that “non-heterosexuals are about two to three times as likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse.”

The authors conclude in light of the negative health outcomes correlated with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria and their uncertain genesis, that “we may have some reasons to doubt the common assumption that in order to live happy and flourishing lives, we must somehow discover this innate fact about ourselves that we call sexuality or sexual orientation, and invariably express it through particular patterns of sexual behavior or a particular life trajectory.”

They suggest that health professionals and society more broadly “consider what sorts of behaviors—whether in the sexual realm or elsewhere—tend to be conducive to health and flourishing, and what kinds of behaviors tend to undermine a healthy and flourishing life.”