Almost Everything the Media Tells You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Wrong
This week, a comprehensive 143-page report discussing over 200 peer-reviewed studies was published in the scholarly journal, The New Atlantis. The report, “Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological, Psychological, and Social Sciences,” was co-authored by two of America’s top mental health scholars and draws upon a broad range of research from the 1950s to 2016. It discusses what we thought we knew about sexual orientation and gender identity—and parts the curtain as to what we don’t know (or haven’t been told) by the media and activist groups.
Speaking on the significance of this report, one scholar writes, “Examining research from the biological, psychological, and social sciences, this report shows that some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence.” He continues, “It is important to point out that the lead author is very sympathetic to the plight of the LGBT community and describes himself as a strong supporter of equality and opponent of discrimination. He has testified in court for the LGBT community. Nonetheless, he writes that, “I support every sentence in this report without reservation and without prejudice regarding any political or philosophical debates. This report is about science and medicine, nothing more and nothing less.”
Dr. Richard N. Williams, founding Director of BYU’s Wheatley Institution, weighed in on this report. Dr. Williams was the Associate Academic Vice President for Faculty at BYU and is currently is a Professor in the department of Psychology at Brigham Young University which he joined in 1981.
Here, Dr. Williams rightly states that “Good scientists follow the data where they lead. They are constantly open to alternatives and remain mindful of scientific and intellectual rigor. To dismiss this scientific report as merely political is to misread it—not only cynically but unscientifically. The report, with its substantial body of analyses and findings, stands on its own ground, and it certainly provides sufficient material for study and response by serious investigators. Even serious cynics have a responsibility to deal with the data.”
While some may dismiss this report or seek to discredit its authors because the findings do not align with their political agendas, it is very difficult to discount and ignore extensive research from over 200 peer-reviewed journals, thousands of years of human existence, biology, psychiatry, social science, empirical data, eternal truths and the teachings of ancient and modern prophets, seers and revelators.
The Family: A Proclamation to the World was ahead of its time and prophetic in its warnings against the philosophies and actions that undermine and harm individuals, children and families. We appreciate the proclamation’s prophetic words about the impact mothers and fathers have on their children, the importance of family structure, the consequences of abuse, the importance of marital fidelity, the eternal nature of one’s gender identity, and the consequences of breaking the law of chastity. The proclamation is powerful in its foresight, and ends in a warning to the world that “the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.”
In his article “Almost Everything the Media Tells You About Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Is Wrong“, Dr. Ryan T. Anderson outlines some major conclusions about this report:
*The belief that sexual orientation is an innate, biologically fixed human property—that people are ‘born that way’—is not supported by scientific evidence.
*Likewise, the belief that gender identity is an innate, fixed human property independent of biological sex—so that a person might be a ‘man trapped in a woman’s body’ or ‘a woman trapped in a man’s body’—is not supported by scientific evidence.
*Only a minority of children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood. There is no evidence that all such children should be encouraged to become transgender, much less subjected to hormone treatments or surgery. The report reviews rigorous research showing that ‘only a minority of children who experience cross-gender identification will continue to do so into adolescence or adulthood.’ As the report notes, “There is no evidence that all children who express gender-atypical thoughts or behavior should be encouraged to become transgender.”
*Homosexual and transgender people have higher rates of mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicide), as well as behavioral and social problems (substance abuse, intimate partner violence), than the general population. Discrimination alone does not account for the entire disparity.
*Members of the homosexual population are estimated to have about 1.5 times higher risk of experiencing anxiety disorders than members of the heterosexual population, as well as roughly double the risk of depression, 1.5 times the risk of substance abuse, and nearly 2.5 times the risk of suicide.
*Members of the transgender population are also at higher risk of a variety of mental health problems compared to members of the non-transgender population. Especially alarmingly, the rate of lifetime suicide attempts across all ages of transgender individuals is estimated at 41 percent, compared to under 5 percent in the overall U.S. population.
*In both males and females, significantly higher rates of homosexuality were found in participants who experienced childhood sexual abuse and in those with a risky childhood family environment.” (41% of non-heterosexual males and 42% of non-heterosexual females reported childhood family dysfunction)
*What accounts for these tragic outcomes? Mayer and McHugh investigate the leading theory—the “social stress model”—which proposes that “stressors like stigma and prejudice account for much of the additional suffering observed in these subpopulations.” In other words, the theory that LGBT people commit suicide because of social stigma is incomplete. Social stigma and stress alone cannot account for the poor physical and mental health outcomes that LGBT-identified people face.
*The report notes that scientific evidence does not support the claim that people are “born that way” with respect to sexual orientation. The narrative pushed by Lady Gaga and others is not supported by the science. A combination of biological, environmental, and experiential factors likely account for an individual’s sexual attractions, desires, and identity, and “there are no compelling causal biological explanations for human sexual orientation.”
*The scientific research shows that sexual orientation is more fluid than the media suggests. The report notes that “Longitudinal studies of adolescents suggest that sexual orientation may be quite fluid over the life course for some people, with one study estimating that as many as 80 percent of male adolescents who report same-sex attractions no longer do so as adults.”
*“Everyone—scientists and physicians, parents and teachers, lawmakers and activists—deserves access to accurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity.”
For the full 144-page report, please visit http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/number-50-fall-2016.