April 24, 2024

Provocative new study questions the science of gender

Where is the evidence for sexual orientation and gender identity?

A report on gender and sexuality released by the journal The New Atlantis has met with both praise and criticism from commentators.

Written by Lawrence S Mayer, an epidemiologist, and Paul R. McHugh, a psychiatrist, at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, it is a survey of research from the biological, psychological, and social sciences about sexual orientation and gender identity.

Outlined in the executive summary of the report are the findings that “the understanding of sexual orientation as an innate, biologically fixed property of human beings…is not supported by scientific evidence”, and that “the hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex… is not supported by scientific evidence.”

Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, said The New Atlantis report is another instance in which Dr. McHugh espouses “his own personal prejudice against LGBTQ people.”

Yet one of the most widely cited researchers on transgender issues, Northwestern University psychologist J. Michael Bailey, suggested that the report was a welcome addition to the literature on gender and sexuality:

“Most importantly, I agree that all of these issues should be openly discussed and researched,” Bailey told the Washington Times. “There is little government support for open-minded investigation for these controversial issues. That is unfortunate and exactly backwards. Support should be directed to resolve the most contentious issues.”

In their introduction, Mayer and McHugh state that the report “is offered in the hope that such an exposition can contribute to our capacity as physicians, scientists, and citizens to address health issues faced by LGBT populations within our society.” 

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