If a mother at risk of her child having congenital adrenal hyperplasia takes steroids during her pregnancy, it may make the child less likely to be lesbian.
CAH has various effects, including retention of male hormones in the foetus, so that a girl’s genitals may be made ambiguous. Once a woman has had a daughter with such ambiguous genitals, she might be offered steroids during subsequent pregnancies, which will treat that particular symptom, but not the CAH itself. And the steroids have to be administered before the child’s sex may be detected, when there is a one in eight chance of a girl with CAH.
There are no long term studies showing this treatment produces fewer lesbians. There is a study showing that women with CAH are more likely to be lesbian, and one showing that treated girls are more feminine. We don’t know. That lesbians are always more masculine is demonstrably false.
The choices are, leave the child at risk of ambiguous genitalia, give surgery, or give steroids. Even if the child has CAH, the enlargement of the clitoris may be slight. DSD advocates oppose genital surgery on infants- it should be the informed choice of the adult woman- but if human diversity is a problem, this treatment may make one aspect of it go away. My political view is that human diversity in general, including ambiguous genitals, is not a problem, it is society’s reaction which is the problem- but while society has that problem, I can sympathise with a mother seeking to avoid her child being a non-voluntary pioneer in breaking down that intolerance. Even if the child has CAH, the enlargement of the clitoris may be slight.
Dr John Grohol‘s political view is that doctors and patients should be able to decide together to take whatever action they might wish. No. Professional bodies and government will always have a say, and while I cheer on brave doctors who have pioneered sex change treatments because those increase the freedom of the patient, this treatment changes the child, not necessarily for her good, because of the parent’s desire.
Alice Dreger (see the LA Times article) is concerned that the risk the parent might seek to avoid is not an enlarged clitoris, but homosexuality. Homosexuality may be affected by the intra-uterine environment, as well as by genes. She wants to prevent the treatment because of that. There must be no attempt to cure homosexuality, in anyone. I think society would lose out if diversity is reduced, and the idea of getting people to conform to a norm so others can feel less uncomfortable repels me, but-
I admit the possibility that heterosexuality might be preferred to homosexuality, if there is a completely free choice. I am not certain. This is separate from whether gay people are of equal value with straights (we are) or are immoral per se (we are not). In a society purged from kyriarchy, if there were a completely free choice I might prefer to be androphile. What about you?