A breakthrough report restores the primacy of scientific evidence.
There’s a quote attributed to Ronald Reagan, “It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.” It’s also that so many of those things that they know that “aren’t so” lead to bad policies based on those lies and distortions.
Take, for instance, the recent Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage legal, overturning the vote of 31 states that had previously voted against it. That SCOTUS decision was based on the belief that science had established sexual orientation and gender identity as innate characteristics. Mainstream media had inundated the public with numerous arguments and feature stories about the problems faced by those individuals who, they said, cannot change their “inherent and unchangeable identity.” Those who seek to help individuals who are not happy with their perceived identity as LBGT have been subject to public and professional harassment, discrimination, ridicule and scorn. To assert that there’s no research basis for the position that sexual orientation is innate is an invitation to be dismissed as uninformed and cause for angry claims, without evidence, that people “are born” LGBT.
Now The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society released yesterday a whole issue focused on “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences.” The journal, published since 2003, has earned a reputation as “the nation’s premier journal of science, technology, and ethics.” Its editor, Adam Keiper, is equally well respected as a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
Released internationally, this issue is a landmark report that follows three years of lengthy, thorough work studying, analyzing and summarizing nearly 200 peer-reviewed studies beginning in 1950 and continuing to the present date. This journal does not take a position in regard to the current controversies over these issues; instead, it identifies nearly 20 issues needing more research. Ironically, the study was prompted by an array of “enduring public health concerns.” Most importantly, it clearly identifies some pivotal findings in the biological, psychological, and social sciences.
First, the journal reports that scientific evidence does not support the belief in sexual orientation as an “innate, biologically fixed human property.” Put simply, the assertion that people are “born that way” is not supported by peer-reviewed scientific studies.
Second, the journal reports that no scientific evidence points to gender as an innate, fixed characteristic independent of biological sex. In other words, there is no such thing as “a man trapped in a woman’s body” or “a woman trapped in a man’s body.”
Third, there is no evidence in the peer-reviewed research literature to support the idea that children who behave in gender-atypical ways will inevitably continue that behavior and, thus, should be encouraged to become transgender through hormone therapy or surgical alternation. Quite simply, a girl wearing jeans and playing with trucks or a boy who enjoys playing dolls with his sister will not inevitably grow up gender-confused and needing to be guided toward transgender identity.
Fourth, discrimination — as a single factor — does not account for the fact that research establishes: non-heterosexual and transgender people have higher rates of mental health problems and far more behavioral and social problems than the general population. For instance, they are far more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and violence.
The Johns Hopkins University authors of the report are outstanding professors. Lawrence S. Mayer, M.B., M.S., Ph.D., is a scholar-in-residence at the Department of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins and is a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University. Paul R. McHugh, M.D. is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was, for twenty-five years, the psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The facts are heart-rending: LGBT persons have higher rates of mental, behavioral and social problems. LGBT persons are 2 to 3 times more likely to have suffered childhood sexual abuse. LBGT persons have 2.5 times more risk of suicide than the general populations. Transgender individuals are almost 10 times more likely to attempt suicide. Individuals who have undergone sex-reassignment surgery are 5 times more likely to attempt suicide and a staggering 19 times more likely to succeed.
We’ve failed people who need understanding as well as support and help in order to lead healthy, productive lives. Pushing ideology serves the selfish goals and ambitions of those pushing the falsehoods rather than serving those who need help to get their lives on track in order to flourish.
Quite obviously, ideology has overpowered research in numerous areas of individual and public well-being. It is equally obvious that there’s a huge disconnect when faulty claims about sexuality and gender are used to enact public policy that does not foster health and wellbeing and when there is a huge chasm between generally-accepted beliefs and what scientific findings show. The two authors of this new research are not pushing an agenda; they are calling for honest, dispassionate research that will benefit those confused by these issues. Nobody benefits when ideology prevails over scientific research — least of all, those who are the subjects of the studies whose problems so often are swept under the rug of leftist certainty about “things they don’t know.”