Talk It Up! Major New Study on Homosexuality

Talk It Up! Major New Study on Homosexuality

Major New Study Released

Yesterday a new scientific study was published at The New Atlantis questioning much of today’s homosexual transgender narrative. There’s no evidence that LGBT people are “born that way,” and there’s good evidence that young people with same-sex attractions end up in strong heterosexual relationships as adults.

That’s a start. I’m still reading the book-length article. Ryan Anderson summarizes it: Almost Everything the Media Tell You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Wrong.”

My friend Michael Brown made a strong prediction about how gay activists will respond to it. Eventually he’ll undoubtedly prove to be exactly right. So far he’s only just barely right. He’s expecting an outpouring of hate toward the researchers. “How will gay activists respond? They will shoot the messengers. Watch and see. We’ve seen the pattern for years.”

So far, however, Google searches for “New Atlantis homosexuality” and “Johns Hopkins homosexuality” reveal little besides a long list of conservative and Christian responses. As for liberal and progressive news sites? Nothing. Mainstream media? Not a word. You’d think that for all the interest they’ve found in homosexuality, a high-standards scientific study like this one would get their attention.

Right Wing Watch mentioned it with relatively little comment (good for them!).

The New Civil Rights Movement, an unabashedly pro-gay marriage site, complained that the article’s sources were biased. Funny thing, that. Tons and tons of research included in the study, and (as predicted) they take aim at the messengers instead. (There will be more of this.)

Other than that and a couple of bloggers — the sound of rabbits barking.

Please read the study — at least the executive summary. And talk it up. There’s good information there. Let’s make sure there’s good conversation.

29 thoughts on “Talk It Up! Major New Study on Homosexuality

  1. Hi Tom. I’m back (for now). Lots to say about this. First off:

    As for liberal and progressive news sites? Nothing. Mainstream media? Not a word. You’d think that for all the interest they’ve found in homosexuality, a high-standards scientific study like this one would get their attention.

    Well, I keep half an eye on the latest research into human sexuality and gender, and I’ve never heard of The New Atlantis before now. That doesn’t do anything to discredit TNA as a journal (for all I know it’s really great), but it does say something about what sort of topics they address. And if you browse their site by topic and click ‘human sexuality’, there’s this study, and a handful of much smaller publications only tangentially related to LGBT issues. So it’s not like they’re a big player that we’d all be aware of and watching closely. Plus, as you said, this was just released yesterday.

    As for “shooting the messengers”, well, sometimes people have a track record, and sometimes that track record doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in whatever their newest work is. For example: imagine if David Duke released a study on race relations. You’d hopefully be extremely suspicious of his work, and rightly so. (note that I’m not saying that your views on LGBT issues are morally comparable to Duke’s views on racial issues – this is just an example of how one’s track record can factor into an analysis).

    I’m quite familiar with the work of Paul McHugh, who co-authored this work, as well as Ryan Anderson, who endorses it. I could write pages and pages and pages about why I disagree with them, and about how their work is extremely flawed on multiple levels. Now, it’s certainly *possible* that McHugh & crew have changed their approach so drastically that all my previous objections are rendered moot. But I doubt it.

    But anyway, I did as you asked and looked into the study itself. I’ll give my thoughts on that in my next comment (to be posted shortly).

  2. Ok, so let’s look into this study a bit. Like you, I’ve not finished it yet, but skimming through, I can see multiple problems.

    Right off the bat, in the introduction and in Ryan Anderson’s article, this doesn’t seem to be addressing any of the actual research into human gender and sexuality, or the academic discourse surrounding it. Rather, it’s responding to popular discourse in the media. It references the “born this way” view of sexuality, and the “wrong body” model of trans identity. The problem here is that researchers of LGBT issues, and more importantly, LGBT people themselves, are mostly not comfortable with these models. The reality is far more nuanced – we’ve been saying for a long time that while one’s gender identity and sexuality are often fluid throughout one’s life, attempts to consciously change these things are at best ineffective and at worst extremely damaging. For example, trans activist Janet Mock has said on Twitter:

    “Trapped in the wrong body” is a convenient, lazy explanation but it fails to describe #trans people & our bodies every time. (https://twitter.com/janetmock/status/222106568345387008)

    and a trans woman named Penny has this to say:

    There’s a popular narrative of trans people being “born in the wrong body”. It’s such an oversimplification as to be laughable were it not harming us – and it certainly harmed me. (http://genderanalysis.net/2015/09/3-years-of-hrt-and-8-things-ive-learned-gender-analysis-11/)

    Moving on, another problem with this is that it seems to routinely cite incredibly outdated sources. For example, in chapter 1, it discusses the ‘Kinsey Scale’ of sexuality, saying that there’s “considerable limitations to this approach”. But *of course* there is – that’s from 1948! No mention is made of the updated model of the Klein Sexual Orientation Grid (1978), or of any of the numerous alternative models that have been developed. Judith Butler’s work on performativity is, to be fair, mentioned in part 3 – but the author seems to misinterpret her work as saying that gender and sexuality are arbitrary or meaningless.

    Anyway, most of the rest of the study is concerned with negative health outcomes in LGBT people. I only have one thing to say in response to that, which is this:

    Yes, I agree. We often suffer from many negative health outcomes, for a wide variety of reasons. What are you going to do to help us?

  3. Skep, I’ll have a few things to say in response to this, but I want to focus on one thing in this comment. Simply this: you say, “this doesn’t seem to be addressing any of the actual research into human gender and sexuality, or the academic discourse surrounding it. Rather, it’s responding to popular discourse in the media.”

    Granted that it doesn’t explicitly mention everything that could be said, it’s still not the case that it doesn’t address actual research.

  4. Thank you for your comments, Skep.

    You say, “Rather, it’s responding to popular discourse in the media.”

    Sure. The popular discourse in the media needs an informed response. So I don’t see that as counting against this article in the least.

    Does this article participate in the current academic discourse? Maybe not. Sometimes, though, there are so many scientific misconceptions among the public, someone needs to bridge the gap: to participate in the popular discourse with scientific information.

    The question that brings up, of course, is whether this is indeed an informed response. Clearly it is: the article references dozens of scholarly articles directly. It assesses their strengths and weaknesses and draws its conclusions responsibly.

    You go on to say the article fails to address the nuances of contemporary LGBT discussion, for example, “we’ve been saying for a long time that while one’s gender identity and sexuality are often fluid throughout one’s life.”

    I don’t see you disagreeing with the authors’ conclusions. Maybe you think they have misrepresented the thoughtful way in which LGBT persons describe their own experiences. I could grant you that.

    You ask,

    “Yes, I agree. We often suffer from many negative health outcomes, for a wide variety of reasons. What are you going to do to help us?

    Well, for one thing, I’m advocating as frequently and vigorously as I can for an end to anti-LGBT bullying, shunning, or anything that could be labeled under the term “oppression.” (It’s been just one week since I last brought it up here and at The Stream.) I participated in a recently released documentary promoting a caring, empathetic, welcoming response to LGBT persons in one’s family: How Do You Like Me Now?. You won’t see me in that trailer, but I’m in the full version.

    In Critical Conversations I take a strong stand also in favor of authentic, genuine friendships between Christians and LGBT persons.

    I’ve also taken a stand for what is true concerning marriage and morality, convinced that living according to truth is physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually healthier than living any other way.

    The truth under which we all live includes the grace of God: not that God justifies sin, but that he justifies sinners, myself included, through his love and by the work of Jesus Christ who died for us all, to reconcile us to himself. This is healing, my friend.

  5. Well, for one thing, I’m advocating as frequently and vigorously as I can for an end to anti-LGBT bullying, shunning, or anything that could be labeled under the term “oppression.” I’ve participated in a recently released documentary promoting a caring, empathetic, welcoming response to LGBT persons in one’s family: How Do You Like Me Now?.

    Tom, I’m sure you’re convinced that this is what you’re doing. But it’s really not. Your last post on this blog before this one is entitled “Gender Identity Discrimination Regulations: The Saddest Joke on the Planet”. You claim, “It’s disturbing. It’s ridiculous. It’s mad. It’s hilarious. I don’t know whether to argue, laugh, or cry.”, and “it’s high time we quit taking all this garbage about “gender identity discrimination” so seriously”.

    Do you really think that a trans person could read this and think “wow, the person who wrote this is really being caring and welcoming towards me”?

  6. You can reject me on a knee-jerk based on one sentence in a blog post, which includes the word “cry”, or you could read the whole thing and find out what the tears would be about.

    You asked for attention to nuance. I’m calling on you to do the same.

    I have one attitude toward persons with a gender dysphoria and an entirely different attitude toward public policy proposals that are inherently self-contradictory and harmful to women experiencing significant hurt. I make no apology for calling a ridiculous policy ridiculous. I did no such thing toward any persons, however. Read it and you’ll see.

  7. I did read the whole post, and I think you misunderstood my point. I’m not objecting to the substance of your argument in that post, I’m objecting to your approach. And I’m not talking about my own reaction to it, I’m talking about trans people’s reaction to it. Even if the nondiscrimination policies have flaws, they’re at least an attempt to help trans people. And you mock that attempt.

    You say “I make no apology for calling a ridiculous policy ridiculous. I did no such thing toward any persons, however.” That may be true, but it sure looks like you’re trying to get off on a technicality. You could have approached this topic with an entirely different tone, one that wasn’t so inflammatory. But you didn’t.

    Furthermore, I’d like you to seriously reflect on what your response would have been if my first two comments on this post had taken a similar approach. I could have said “The New Atlantis Study – the saddest joke on the planet! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” Regardless of any substantial points that followed, you probably would have deleted my comment. And I wouldn’t blame you, I’d delete it too.

  8. You say, “Even if the nondiscrimination policies have flaws, they’re at least an attempt to help trans people. And you mock that attempt.”

    I do not mock the urge or motivation to help trans people. I do mock this attempt, because it is self-contradictory, incoherent, and potentially very harmful to another significant population at risk.

    This isn’t just some idea floating out there, by the way. This is an actual regulation being proposed by a federal agency with the power to enforce it. Inflammatory? What’s more inflammatory than enforcing this bad regulation with the power of the law?

    This proposal needs to be stopped in its tracks, because it’s such a bad idea. So I don’t mind calling it out for what it is. Are you saying trans people are so sensitive they can’t stand a ridiculous proposal being identified as a ridiculous proposal? Are you saying they cannot abide a true assessment? What are you really saying about them when you say that?

    I could have said “The New Atlantis Study – the saddest joke on the planet! I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.” Regardless of any substantial points that followed, you probably would have deleted my comment. And I wouldn’t blame you, I’d delete it too.

    Wrong. You can say whatever you want about ideas, as long as you say it in accord with my “Starbucks standard” (see the discussion guidelines).

    I mocked an idea. Because it’s ridiculous. I substantiated what I said.

    Again: If you think trans people are unable to handle that, what are you actually saying about them?

  9. You can say whatever you want about ideas, as long as you say it in accord with my “Starbucks standard” (see the discussion guidelines).

    I guess we have different standards then. If we were having coffee, and you handed me this study to read, I sure wouldn’t call it “the saddest joke on the planet”.

    Are you saying they cannot abide a true assessment?

    No, but your post was obviously not just a “mere assessment”. What I’m saying is that they shouldn’t have to abide the ridicule with which you’ve colored your assessment. As an experiment in discourse, perhaps you could find the time to rewrite that post according to the “courtroom standard” – write it as if you were arguing against the legislation in court. If you were to do that, for the record, I’d be more than happy to provide counter-argument, and perhaps we could actually come to some sort of policy agreement. (which would, by the way, be incredibly beneficial for your “side”, as I’m a member of the LGBT community, and there’s a good number of people there who have a lot of respect for my views on these issues.)

    This proposal needs to be stopped in its tracks, because it’s such a bad idea.

    Ok, I’ll assume this is true for the sake of argument. Be that as it may, and *this is a fact*, you’re doing a really bad job – the only people you’re convincing are those who already agree with you. As a bit of meta-commentary, this is why you lost the same-sex marriage debate in the court of public opinion so quickly. If I was a more dishonest person, I’d be encouraging you to keep on this track regarding trans issues. If you want to do that anyway, well, go right ahead.

  10. Skep, I don’t know who’s displaying the real bigotry here, but I have a high enough opinion of trans persons to think they can survive someone’s exposing the severe problems posed by an incoherent, internally self-contradictory policy that harms another significant at-risk population.

    I have a high enough opinion of trans persons to think they might not knee-jerk their way into a premature, one-dimensional evaluation of an article, based on words taken out of context from its emotionally multidimensional first sentence.

    I have a high enough opinion of their thoughtfulness and intelligence to believe they can follow the flow of an emotionally multi-dimensional discussion from beginning to end.

    I think highly enough of them to believe they can tell the difference between ridiculing an idea (which I do) and expressing empathy for their situations (which I also do).

    I’m confident enough in their cognitive processes to count on their ability to recognize that one federal agency’s idea is one thing, and they themselves, as persons, are another thing; and that their worth as persons doesn’t depend on the worth of that federal agency’s ideas.

    I’m not sure you think any of that is true for trans persons. Sure, you’ll protest my raising that question. Sure, you’ll disagree. But look at what you’re saying (in effect): Trans people are so fragile they can’t get past that article’s first sentence.

    Really?

    I’ve asked you twice already. I’ll ask you again: What are you really saying about trans persons?

  11. Tom, I’ve already answered your question in my previous post. What I’m essentially saying is this: you should be nicer when talking about trans issues. And you’re responding with this: no I shouldn’t, they can handle it.

    Of course they *can* handle it. They put up with a lot worse. But, as I already said, they shouldn’t have to. Regardless of your intentions, that’s how you come off – as rude. You could easily rectify this, but it appears you have no desire to do so. I know you’re more than capable of arguing against an idea without also ridiculing it. But for some reason, you seem insistent that your ridicule is necessary. It’s really not. There’s not really much else for me to say, other than to refer you back to the last paragraph of my previous post.

  12. You say it wasn’t a mere assessment. I guess we disagree on that.

    The proposed regulation is harmful (HARMFUL!!!) to an at-risk population.

    The proposed regulation claims to address gender-identity discrimination but by its very nature — not just predictably but necessarily — causes (CAUSES!) gender-identity discrimination.

    I think that’s terribly counterproductive. I could have limited my comments to that level of assessment. But that wouldn’t have been a mere assessment. It would have been less than accurate.

    A government regulation that inherently, necessarily does the opposite of what it claims to do, while doing significant harm to a significant at-risk population, is worth exactly the treatment I gave it.

    If you can’t separate that in your own mind from the transgendered population, that’s not up to me to resolve for you. I’ve done my best.

    Why do you even think it’s a trans issue in the first place? What makes you think my ridicule is directed anywhere near their direction? I think trans persons are smart enough to see it’s not a trans issue, it’s a government idiocy issue. I think they’re able to distinguish the (negative) worth of a government proposal from their personal worth.

    Apparently you disagree. You’ve said you believe they can handle it. You want to intercede, to tell people like me we shouldn’t make them have to handle things like this. What I’m saying is they’re smart enough to know there’s nothing there to handle.

    I’d be embarrassed to have you protecting me that way.

  13. “The proposed regulation claims to address gender-identity discrimination but by its very nature — not just predictably but necessarily — causes (CAUSES!) gender-identity discrimination.”

    I think that these laws cause gender identity discrimination is a feature and not a bug. By making gender identity part of the law it gives gender identity more credibility. You might say it makes it more real, even more so for those that view what is in law as the most real.

    Somehow not discriminating by gender identity discriminates against people because it does not recognize what they believe is most true about themselves and mandate special treatment based on those subjective beliefs.

  14. Skep, you wrote:

    Hi Tom. I’m back (for now).

    Have you commented on thinkingchristian.net before? A google search of this website yields no hits, other than this thread.

    I found your comments (in this thread) to be eminently reasonable–and I was curious as to what else you’ve written.

  15. Have you commented on thinkingchristian.net before? A google search of this website yields no hits, other than this thread.

    Yes – although not in awhile. To find my comments, enter “site:thinkingchristian.net SkepticismFirst” into google’s search bar.

    I found your comments (in this thread) to be eminently reasonable–and I was curious as to what else you’ve written.

    Thank you!

  16. DR84:

    I think that these laws cause gender identity discrimination is a feature and not a bug.

    Would you follow that up with a call for the law’s proponent’s to quit calling it a proposal for ending gender identity discrimination? Or are you happy with it being falsely labeled? Or… ? (Choose something else, I don’t want to stick you with a binary trap.)

  17. Tom, you said (in your other post):

    They wanted a safe place to be — with no men around, for a while at least. HUD’s rule would tell these traumatized women that if someone walked in the door who looked a lot like a man, but says he/she/ze/zir is a woman, they would damn well have to forget all the terrifying associations they’ve had with men, and accept “her” as one of them. And if they were to find that difficult, well, shame on them for being so intolerant!

    Let’s imagine that instead of a trans woman walking in the door, it’s a cis woman (cis means one’s gender identity matches one’s sex assigned at birth) who just so happens to resemble a man. What do you think should be done then?

  18. *Wry smile*

    You can always find an extremely unlikely rare hypothetical example to show that the other side is inconsistent in its application of policy.

    I can always call the game out for the game it is. No points for the attempt; the game isn’t on.

    No matter how I answered your question, Skep, or even if there were no good answer, there would still be no good reason for the government to force a policy on shelters requiring them to accept someone who looks like a man — including that person’s genitalia! — in a shelter meant to help women who have been mistreated by men. If nothing else it would mean a large percentage increase in the likelihood that these women would have a roommate who appears as a man. The government has no business multiplying that likelihood.

  19. Tom, it’s not an “extremely unlikely rare hypothetical “. In fact, I’d wager that in terms of raw numbers, there are far more cis women who resemble men than there are trans women who resemble men.

    Furthermore, look at what you’re objecting to – trans women who *look like* men. Your issue is with gender expression, not gender identity! When trans women are actually allowed to transition, they don’t look like men at all – that’s the whole point. So, would you object to a trans woman who looked like a woman?

  20. I object to what I said I object to in the OP: government regulations that subject women at risk to an even higher risk of emotional trauma. What’s not clear about that?

    I’d wager that in terms of raw numbers, there are far more cis women who resemble men than there are trans women who resemble men.

    In raw numbers, the “cis women who resemble men” whom shelters would be forced by this regulation to admit equals exactly zero.

  21. By the way, I have no objection to local shelters admitting anyone, male or female, straight or gay, “cis” (what an odd thing to have to have a label for that!) or trans, provided that these shelters are responsibly run by wise and well-informed leaders who are looking out for the good of their clientele and their communities.

    (I seriously doubt that a responsibly run shelter would house men anywhere near women who need emotional shelter following abuse by men. But then, that’s part of what I mean by responsible local leadership.)

    I have a huge objection to a federally mandated blanket regulation coming from administrators in Washington who have no direct contact with the people their rules actually affect, no knowledge of local circumstances, and no ability to adjust to seasonal and day by day situational changes.

  22. Tom, some questions for clarification on your position:

    1. Are you objecting *merely* to the fact that the regulations in question are a “federally mandated blanket regulation”?

    2. If 1 is the case, is your objection that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the most effective way to help everyone, including trans people, who might seek help from these shelters? Or, is it that you’re opposed to blanket regulations in general (the libertarian approach)? Or is it both, or something else?

    3. If 1 is the case, would you advocate an approach where each shelter decides its own policy?

    4. If 3 is the case, would you at least advocate a different blanket regulation, one that doesn’t go so far but says that these shelters must only provide some form of accommodation to trans people rather than turning them away entirely (perhaps, single-occupant facilities)?

    5. If 3 is the case, then would you be ok with some individual shelters adopting the HUD policy because they choose to?

  23. Skep,

    1. I am objecting to the fact that the regulations require shelters to accept a far-away pre-made decision that may in fact be a bad decision for their particular time and circumstance.

    2. See 1.

    3. Answered already, see comment 25.

    4. I would not advocate for any regulation from the federal government that would force shelters, which are already stretched for space, staff, and funds, to build or buy additional single-occupant facilities that they certainly could not afford; especially if the government were to try to enforce such a regulation with anything at all, be it fines, imprisonment, or threats of shutting down or taking over the offending shelter.

    The reason I would not advocate for that is because (a) shelters whose staff are doing a very good thing should not be punished for not stretching themselves completely beyond their thin resources to do every good thing, according to what Washington thinks is good, and (b) I am not stupid.

    5. Answered already, see comment 25.

  24. Tom-

    I would much prefer they were honest about their objectives and said they wanted to implement gender identity discrimination. Going further, they should come up with a system of determining gender identity and list all possible gender identities. I think this system should be objective so that it is obvious to all a person’s gender identity without having to ask (like it is with biological sex for the most part). They also need to figure out how to fund the construction of bathroom/locker room facilities for all the gender identity categories so that everyone can use the room associated with their “gender identity”. Is that too much to ask?

    What they are aiming for is both bad and well…all kinds of crazy. I would like them to be honest so that people are not mislead.

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