August 11, 2011 4:37 pm ET - by Carlos Maza
Psychiatrist and Fox News contributor Dr. Keith Ablow is quickly becoming Fox’s go-to source for embarrassingly uninformed commentary on LGBT issues. You might remember Ablow from his transphobic meltdown over a J. Crew ad of a boy with pink toenail polish or his quickly pulled assertion that Chaz Bono was suffering from a “psychotic delusion” for being transgender.
In an article posted on FoxNews.com today, he decided to compare homosexuality to pedophilia and promote the claim that people can turn gay (and, one might assume, be turned straight again) as a result of environmental factors.
Zack Ford at Think Progress has a rundown of some of Ablow’s most ridiculous assertions from the piece:
- Pedophilia is a “sexual orientation.” (It’s not, it’s a psychiatric disorder.)
- Sexual orientation can be shaped by one’s environment. (He is correct that “desires” and “behavior” can be influenced by environment, but neglects to draw any distinction between contextual responses and an enduring orientation.)
- Prison normalizes homosexuality. (Besides reinforcing a stereotype, Ablow again conflates behavior with orientation. Men who have sex with men in prison don’t become gay.)
- People who are transgender “are on tortuous, tragic paths through confused identity issues.” (Any psychologist with an ounce of merit would appreciate that transitioning gender is all about affirming the individual’s identity, and while the journey may be challenging, there is nothing “tortuous,” “tragic,” or “confusing” about it.)
- Gender dysphoria can be “kindled” and shaped by one’s environment. (What Ablow is insinuating is that, like sexual orientation, gender identity is also a choice — or at least something that can be controlled. On both counts, he is wrong.)
In fact, Ablow’s claims were recently debunked by Dr. Dean Hamer, a molecular biologist who has actually studied and followed the scientific community’s views on sexual orientation:
In fact, the scientific community has long regarded sexual orientation — whether gay, straight, or somewhere in between — as a phenotype: an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For us, the role of genetics in sexual behavior is about as “disputable” as the role of evolution in biology. Come to think of it, pretty much the same folks are opposed to both ideas.
Each of these studies has led to the same fundamental conclusion: genes play a major role in human sexual orientation. By contrast, shared environmental factors such as education, parenting style, or presumably even exposure to Lady Gaga, have little if anything to do with people's orientation. While there is a substantial amount of variation that cannot be ascribed to either heritable or shared environment, the differences might also be due to biological traits that are not inherited in a simple additive manner. [emphasis added]
It’s hard to not notice a trend in Ablow’s posts. Despite being a member of the “Fox News Medical A-Team,” Ablow consistently fails to cite a single study or qualified source for any of the claims he makes about LGBT people. More often than not, his views on LGBT issues directly contradict the stated positions of the majority of American medical associations.
When it comes to issues like sexual orientation and gender identity, Ablow’s “expert opinion” typically amounts to little more than the antI-LGBT ramblings of a pseudoscientist who wants to appeal to his socially conservative audience.
Anti-LGBT animus is unfortunate. Anti-LGBT animus promoted under the guise of medical expertise is irresponsible. Anti-LGBT animus promoted under the guise of medical expertise and distributed by a supposedly “fair and balanced” news network is just dangerous.
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