Saturday, February 23, 2008

Panic and the Disco

Sexuality and its origins have always been a fiercely debated subject. Is it genetic? Is it a learned trait? Is it both? Even though science has discovered several possibilities, no one can agree.

I heard a stand-up comedian once discuss a German study involving stress and homosexuality. It turns out, her routine was based in fact. The Dresden Study, as it has become known, noted that during World War II, a higher-than-normal percentage of infants born during the bombing of the city ended up being gay or lesbian. Dr. Günter Dörner published his findings in 1982 (Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 11, No. 5, 1982, pp. 445–450). Researchers in America and the United Kingdom confirmed that the stress chromosome cortisol may lead to a decrease in testosterone, causing infants to become homosexual.

Lately, there's been a rise in researchers trying to find physical differences to "weed out" gays and lesbians: the length of ring fingers, left-handedness, number of older brothers, hair patterns, fingerprints, etc. In most circumstances, the traits apply to "many" gays and lesbians, but not all.

So, where do I register on the plethora of scientific babble floating around in cyberspace? Well, my mother suffered from panic attacks during her pregnancy. Check. I am left-handed (supposedly, gays and lesbians are more inclined to be left-handed... us south paws are better with spatial tasks, i.e. art, science, math, architecture, and everyday life). Check. My index finger is shorter than my ring finger. Oops. My hair has a clockwise whorl. Oops. I have no brothers. Oops. I didn't dress like a girl as a child. Oops. I played with toy cars and trains as a child. Oops.

So, science hasn't quite figured things out. Hopefully, they never will. Why do I say that? very simple: it would create a basis for discrimination and extermination. Mothers could choose whether or not to abort a child who might grow up to be homosexual. People with certain key features could be ostracized or excluded from activities and society. Though the world would not instantaneously become an intolerant place, it would be a better breeding ground for people with malevolent intentions.

My sister is pregnant with her first child. With all the dysfunctional genes and health issues running in our family, it will be quite interesting to see how he or she turns out.

I'll try not to stress her out too much to test the hypothesis.

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