Straight Bias Is Not Impartiality

If you’re going to write an article about bias, try not to make it biased. The subject of this Opinion Piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer, misleadingly titled, Don’t repeat biases of the past, authored by Jonathan Zimmerman, while claiming to castigate bigotry, would actually have us repeat the prejudices of the past.

Why do we regard one trait as changeable, while the other one is supposedly cast in stone? The question came back to the news this month, when prominent psychiatrist Robert Spitzer renounced his famous 2001 study claiming that some gays could become straight via so-called “reparative therapy.”

Mentioning protests in California and Philadelphia against such “reparative therapy”, Mr. Zimmerman says:

Methinks we doth protest too much. As the gay community has taught us, every human being has the right to determine her or his own sexual identity. By dismissing self-described “ex-gays,” then, we risk repeating some of the same bigoted tactics that have been used to condemn homosexuals themselves.

Considering that 20 % of US citizens are on psychiatric drugs, considering the multi-billion dollar drug companies that are profiteering on death and dying, considering the creeping medicalization that is making artificial invalids of vast swathes of the American public, methinks we doth protest too little. In fact, I was out there with other protesters protesting the American Psychiatric Association, and its labeling bible, at their annual convention in Philadelphia earlier this month.

Mr. Zimmerman, by the way, doesn’t identify himself in this article as an “self-described ex-gay”, but he does go to the heart of the problem.

Yet ex-gays say otherwise, insisting that they — not the psychiatrists — are the best judges of their own mental health. And that’s an exact echo of gays, who were stigmatized as “sick” by the same profession until the early 1970s.

Before the early 1970s homosexuality was listed as a psychiatric disorder in the psychiatrists label bible, the DSM. Heterosexuality was never listed as any such disorder in this label bible. The trans-sexual impulse and inclination, under the guise of gender identity disorder, is still listed as a “sickness” in this catalogue of “disorders”.

If anybody thinks sexual orientation is not set in stone, he or she is free to change their orientation. Betwixt homosexuality and heterosexuality you’ve got the bi-sexual identity as well, and that one Mr. Zimmerman leaves completely untouched. Some people claim to have physical affection for members of both sexes. Is Mr. Zimmerman suggesting this passion is a “sickness”?

My own view is that sexual experimentation is going to happen, and no amount of what amounts to moralistic preaching is going to stop it from happening. We have enough problems with those politicians who wish to look beyond their wives for satisfaction, comfort, solace, support, and/or relief.

If anybody wants to consult a mental health professional about changing their sexual preference they are free to do so. The idea that there must be a special therapy for people who want to change their sexual preference is ludicrous. Nobody is trying to change the sexual preference of heterosexuals, for instance. The implication would be that heterosexuality is wrong, and homosexuality is right. You have always been free to change your sexual orientation if you want to do so. The question here is, if you don’t want to change your sexual orientation, should you change it anyway? I leave that one where it belongs with the specific individuals who happen to be so afflicted, disturbed, curious or smitten. To state the matter in more precise terms, homosexuality is not a “disease”, nor is heterosexuality the “cure”. It would be misleading and prejudicial for us to treat them as such.