The New Atlantis published a major report, "Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences." The report focuses on the higher rates of and explanations for mental health problems among the LGBT community and scientifically addresses some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender. It can be found here.
Written by Lawrence S. Mayer, M.B., M.S., Ph.D. and Paul R. McHugh, M.D., both of Johns Hopkins University, the report explores research from more than 200 peer-reviewed studies across a variety of scientific fields including epidemiology, genetics, endocrinology, psychiatry, neuroscience, embryology and pediatrics. The report finds that:
- The belief that sexual orientation is an innate, biologically fixed human property—that people are "born that way"—is not supported by scientific evidence.
- The proposition that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex is not supported by scientific evidence.
- Only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is little scientific evidence for the therapeutic value of medical interventions that delay puberty or modify the secondary sex characteristics of adolescents.
- Non-heterosexual and transgender subpopulations have higher rates of mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), compared to the general population.
"This report is about science and medicine, nothing more and nothing less," writes Dr. Mayer, biostatistician and medically trained epidemiologist. "Cultural and political trends should not influence the reality of the importance of dealing with these difficult and personal issues. As citizens, scholars, and clinicians concerned with the problems facing LGBT people, we should not be dogmatically committed to any particular views about the nature of sexuality or gender identity; rather, we should be guided first and foremost by the needs of struggling patients, and we should seek with open minds for ways to help them lead meaningful, dignified lives."
"I dedicate my work on this report, first, to the LGBT community, which bears a disproportionate rate of mental health problems compared to the population as a whole. We must find ways to relieve their suffering," writes Dr. Mayer. "And above all, I dedicate it to children struggling with their sexuality and gender."
The New Atlantis is published by the Center for the Study of Technology and Society and can be found atTheNewAtlantis.com.
Lawrence S. Mayer, M.B., M.S., Ph.D. is a scholar in residence in the Department of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University.
Paul R. McHugh, M.D. is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and for 25 years was the psychiatrist-in-chief at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
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