Don’t leave it to the genes

Here‘s why I’ve always been opposed to the movement pushing homosexuality as being OK because it’s “probably genetic”. I’m young enough, educated enough and idealistic enough to think that that shouldn’t be necessary at all; it shouldn’t matter whether people prefer men, women, both, neither, or anywhere in between. But I’m sympathetic to the reasoning behind the “genetic” movement; it’s a more realistic stance in one sense, as it recognises that there’s a long way to go before that’s a widely accepted belief.

Still, it’s a dangerous tactic, pinning everything onto genes. The genome is a Pandora’s box that’s been open for almost 10 years, and it’s to be expected that geneticists will go digging for anything that anyone hypothesised is genetic in origin. Behavioural traits are no exception.

But the relationship between genotype and phenotype is far more complex than was previously thought. Let’s put aside the rights and wrongs of antenatal treatment of genetic quirks that may cause “abnormal” sex and gender; this topic has been covered in the article linked in Begley’s article (linked in the first paragraph) and elsewhere. What I suspect will emerge over time is that, like many complex behaviours (or even complex physical attributes), homosexuality and lesbianism won’t be pinned down to one gene. What they will find is that all (or most) women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) will be lesbians, but not all lesbians will have CAH.

In the meantime, women and their fetuses are put at risk of side effects of medication not being tested in randomised controlled trials, all in the hope of preventing something that’s arguably not a disease (by which I mean CAH, not its corollaries of lesbianism or aspirations beyond playing and keeping house). This is not smart; parents are being promised something that is not achievable, meritorious, or helpful for their children, who will grow up in a more inclusive environment than exists currently. I hope they will, anyway.