From its earliest incarnations, the LGBT movement was aimed at one, fundamental goal: To get society to stop seeing homosexuality as something you do and instead look at it as something you are (or aren’t, as the case may be). Eventually, the movement pushed this ideology so far into the mainstream that it was no longer acceptable to even speculate on the idea that homosexuality might be a choice. Settled science, folks. Move along.
But what if everything this “settled science” told us about human sexuality was pure fiction? What if this is one of those moments in history where we’re about to realize that everything we know about a particular subject is completely wrong?
It takes a special kind of scientist to challenge the consensus opinion, especially when the subject in question is as politically-inflamed as this one. Hats off to Johns Hopkins’ Lawrence Mayer and Paul McHugh, who, like all of the greatest scientists in history, have had the intestinal fortitude to march directly into the fire. Studies that support a conservative viewpoint are not typically well-received by the scientific community, to say nothing of the mainstream liberal press. But without men like Mayer and McHugh, science would become indistinguishable from politics.
In a report published in The New Atlantis, the psychiatric scholars conclude that there is little evidence to suggest that gays and transgenders are “born that way.”
“Studies of the brains of homosexuals and heterosexuals have found some differences, but have not demonstrated that these differences are inborn rather than the result of environmental factors that influenced both psychological and neurobiological traits,” says the report. “One environmental factor that appears to be correlated with non-heterosexuality is childhood sexual abuse victimization, which may also contribute to the higher rates.”
The scientists do not rule out the possibility that some people, through their genetic makeup, are more predisposed to homosexuality than others. But they insist that even if that’s the case, it doesn’t support the widely-accepted argument that a person is gay or straight from the moment they blink their eyes for the first time.
“The question, ‘Are people born that way?’ requires clarification,” say the scholars. “There is virtually no evidence that anyone, gay or straight, is ‘born that way’ if that means their sexual orientation was genetically determined. But there is some evidence from [studies of twins] that certain genetic profiles probably increase the likelihood the person later identifies as gay or engages in same-sex sexual behavior.”
While they’ve been careful to draw a line of division between advocacy and science, the authors do worry that by accepting several unproven hypotheses, we’re encouraging young people to build up an unnecessary, false identity.
“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 write.
“Perhaps we ought instead to 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.”
As a society, we used to have a fairly good grasp on those behaviors. With the emergence of the LGBT movement and other, interrelated identity movements, however, we’ve turned unhealthy behaviors into “selfs.” These movements preach that embracing that false “self” means liberation. Actually, though, it means the opposite.