Culture

Debunking the ‘Born This Way’ Myth

LGBT rainbow flags at a Gay Pride parade in New York City in 2007. (Chip East/Reuters)
A new study challenges progressives’ tall tales about sexuality.

Here is the world according to the LGBT Left: Just as there are black and white, there are gay and straight. One’s sexual orientation, like one’s race, is fixed and immutable at birth. The process of “questioning” one’s orientation isn’t a process of deciding but of discovering.

Similarly, when it comes to gender identity, there is “cis” and there is “trans.” A cis person’s gender identity matches the sex they were “assigned” at birth. A trans person — well, a trans person is any one of the fifty-plus other genders on the entirely reputable Facebook spectrum.

This, you see, is science. Anyone who contradicts it — whether relying on ancient, discredited “holy” texts or outdated notions of morality — isn’t just ignorant, but bigoted. And when it comes to bigots, why draw minute moral distinctions? Is there really much difference between a Klan member and a Christian conservative?

Such reasoning has been the source of much of the LGBT movement’s political force. It’s the narrative that dominates the academy, pop culture, progressive corporate America, and, lately, the Supreme Court. Justice Anthony Kennedy referred to the LGBT population’s “immutable” nature in his opinion constitutionalizing same-sex marriage.

To those who live in the real world, this narrative has always run counter to observed reality. Human sexuality is not so neatly and cleanly divided and determined. Circumstances and culture matter, as does morality. So it should come as no surprise that — upon closer scientific examination — the LGBT Left’s case collapses. Sexual orientation and gender identity are nothing like race.

RELATED: The Tragic Transgender Contagion

Yesterday, The New Atlantis released a comprehensive “study of studies,” taking a look at the accumulated body of credible scientific research on LGBT issues. The study is by Lawrence Mayer, a scholar-in-residence at Johns Hopkins University, and Paul McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and its findings destroy the narrative.

First, regarding sexual orientation, the view that it is “an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings — the idea that people are ‘born that way’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.” Indeed, the authors highlight numerous studies finding that sexual orientation is often fluid, with one study showing high rates of abandonment of non-heterosexual identification as young men grew out of adolescence.

The LGBT Left’s narrative is the new nonsense.

Second, “compared to the general population, non-heterosexual subpopulations are at an elevated risk for a variety of adverse health and mental health outcomes.” The numbers are sobering. Non-heterosexual populations have 1.5 times the risk of anxiety disorders and substance abuse, twice the risk of depression, and 2.5 times the risk of suicide. The transgender population also is at elevated risk for mental-health problems, with the suicide numbers particularly troubling: “The rate of lifetime suicide attempts across all ages of transgender individuals is estimated at 41%, compared to under 5% in the overall U.S. population.”

Third, the idea that “gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex — that a person might be ‘a man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’ — is not supported by scientific evidence.” Indeed, only a minority of children who experience “cross-gender identification” will continue to do so as they get older.

#share#The study is lengthy and comprehensive, and when you dive into its depths, it’s clear that McHugh and Mayer aren’t positing simplistic alternative explanations for human sexuality that would mirror and rebut the Left’s narrative. Instead, what emerges is a messy, realistic vision of human beings who are shaped by myriad social, cultural, and biological forces.

To take one example, the authors spend considerable time talking about the high incidence of childhood sexual and physical abuse in the LGBT community. Do LGBT people experience higher rates of abuse and assault because of their orientation, or does the life-altering experience of abuse and assault contribute to the formation of an LGBT identity? As the authors note, the answer is not necessarily either/or. A person can be targeted because they’re perceived to be gay and “sexual abuse perpetrated by men might cause boys to think they are gay or make girls averse to sexual contact with men.”

RELATED: Making Sense of Transgenderism

Here’s the thing, the messy reality McHugh and Mayer describe has been experienced by humans since time immemorial. The LGBT Left’s narrative is the new nonsense. But in response to the new nonsense, there are sectors of American and European politics and culture that can’t kick away the old norms of marriage and gender fast enough, and they keep doing so in spite of the mountain of evidence that those who forsake the allegedly oppressive “Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement,” to quote Black Lives Matter, face far greater challenges than those hidebound bigots who stick faithfully to the heteronormative nightmare of traditional male-female marriage.

#related#What’s even worse — what’s downright insane — is that some on Left want to end the debate. They want to keep selling their moral vision to the public without any competition. Here’s their vision, in a nutshell: Consenting adults should be able to do what they want with their bodies, and the resulting physical or emotional harm is either reasonably tolerable or can be alleviated through a combination of government programs and public re-education.

The Judeo-Christian model, by contrast, is aspirational, calling on people not to do what they want, but what they should. Admittedly, this path is far easier for some than others, but there has always been some play in the cultural joints. The Left’s response is alluring, but it offers a self-indulgent path down which lies cultural ruin. The LGBT Left is driving us there just as fast as it can depress the gas pedal, but thanks to McHugh and Mayer, we now know they most assuredly are not doing so in the name of “science.”

— David French is an attorney, and a staff writer at National Review.

 

David French — David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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