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Pre-determining Sexual Orientation: A Hypothetical

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Image Source: geneticology.com
Tonight’s topic comes via suggestion from a good friend of mine. He actually sent me two topic ideas, and at first I was going to write about the other one, but on further thought, I realized that this one is actually the easier of the two for me to write definitively about. I do want to include a little disclaimer here: my friend is a very open-minded and accepting person who has been nothing but supportive of me in my journey. The non-inclusive wording of his question is simply due to his typing it on a phone, and the typing/character limitations that come with that. He assured me that he meant it in more inclusive terms, so I will expound upon his question to include all possibilities.

So here is his question:

Hypothetical: You are pregnant and your doctor discovers that your fetus has a genetic likelihood of 100% of being asexual in adulthood. Thanks to technological advances, gene therapy has become inexpensive, minimally invasive, and safe. Your doctor can now ensure the child will pop out with a 100% likelihood of being heterosexual in adulthood. He just needs you to give the go-ahead. Is this something you want/need to change? Remember that intentional inaction is still as much of a choice as action, so there's no middle road here: the child will be either sexual or asexual, and you're the one pulling the levers.

To begin addressing this, I want to start off by expanding the parameters of the question to be all-inclusive, as I mentioned above. What he meant to say was EITHER that the doctor can ensure the child can have a 100% likelihood of being sexual (vs. asexual), OR a 100% likelihood of being specifically heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc. (all inclusive). Obviously, these are two different potential questions, but since my answer to both is the same, the distinction is irrelevant to my discussion here.

The simplest answer I can give is NO. No, I would absolutely not change my unborn child’s sexual orientation. But it’s more complicated than that. For one thing, I would never even want to find out my unborn child’s sexual orientation. But the biggest reason for my very vehement negative response is that to make the decision to change or even to find out the future sexual orientation of a fetus is to assume that one orientation is inherently “better” than others, and to believe that it needs to be changed implies that there is something wrong with whatever the child’s original orientation would have been. As of now, there is a fair amount of genetic testing available during pregnancy, and all of the things they can test for are diseases and/or medical issues such as birth defects. To lump sexual orientation in with those things would basically be implying that there is a “right” orientation, and that the rest are “wrong” in a medical sense, or something that needs to be fixed.

I’m not a parent yet, but I can tell you that as a parent, I do not care what my future children’s sexual orientation will be, any more than I care what their eye color will be, or the shape of their noses. What I care about is that my children will be happy, and will feel that they are loved and supported, and have the opportunity to get whatever they aspire to in life. Obviously, in some ways it would be easier for a child to grow up in the majority rather than the minority. But for me personally, my children will be in the minority in several ways already, the most visible of which is religion. Also, I have learned (and continue to learn) that the grass is not actually greener on the other side (it just appears to be sometimes). If my children are asexual, or sexual, or wherever on the spectrum of sexuality they fall, I will love, accept, and support them exactly as they are. I see nothing wrong with them being asexual, or with them being sexual. Being asexual myself, my biggest concern with having children who are sexual is that I will not be able to answer certain questions they may have about sex or sexual experiences when the time comes. That they will feel that they can’t come to me about these topics, because I have no understanding of them from personal experience. However, most children of that age don’t look to their parents for sex advice anyway, so while it is something I think about, I’m not overly concerned by it.

By the way, in case you were wondering, I also would generally decline the existing genetic testing on similar principle. I will love my child the same, regardless of how they come out. If my child, God forbid, had some genetic disease that would cause them to live a very short life, I would still want the child, I would still love the child, and I would still want whatever life they had to be as happy for them as possible. Therefore, since it wouldn’t change anything for me, I would rather not know these types of things in advance. I guess I’m just old-fashioned like that.

Back to the issue at hand, though, there’s one more point I want to make about knowing and potentially changing the sexual orientation of my unborn child. Whether my child was heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual, or anywhere in between, I would look at them exactly the same, treat them exactly the same, and love them exactly the same. Discovering one’s sexuality and sexual orientation is a natural part of human development, and the thought of denying my child that process disturbs me greatly. This is why I wouldn’t want to find out my unborn child’s sexual orientation even if I could. And as for changing it, who am I to decide that my child should be one sexual orientation over another? There is no right or wrong here, everyone simply is what s/he is. And the same will be true for my children.
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