Is there anything wrong with designing sexuality?Friday, 2 July, 2010
Allegedly, Dr Maria New, a Florida doctor, is giving pregnant women a hormonal drug to prevent their daughters from being lesbians. Of course, Time and Bioethics Forum point out this isn’t quite what’s happening. She’s giving a hormonal drug (dexamethasone) to pregnant women, true. But it’s to prevent intersex children, not to prevent lesbians. It might have an effect on sexuality or gender-typical behaviours, but that’s not the aim.
But, assuming the drug is safe and effective, would there be anything wrong with designing your child’s sexuality or gendered behaviours?
Obviously, nobody fully chooses their sexuality or how masculine/feminine they are. So on the face of it, it doesn’t seem there would be any difference between letting a random lottery of genetic and hormonal factors determine this, or letting parents have more control over it. A child born after such treatment would not have fewer freedoms than one born without.
Although it’s possible granting parents such power will simply exacerbate gender stereotypes and sexism, it’s equally possible it will not. If parents begin to realise that a child is simply born with particular preferences, they might then be less likely to try to force young boys to be masculine or force young girls to be feminine.
It’s also likely such an intervention will be embraced by bigots. But I think it would be better for even bigots to have children who will be minimally affected by such bigotry. Bigotry is terrible, to be sure, but forcing a homophobe to, possibly, have (say) a gay son as a lesson is simply causing unnecessarily miserable childhood and parenthood.
So…I can’t see anything wrong with it.