I’ve discovered what appears to be a colossal hidden medical disaster involving medicines containing artificial female hormones that are being given to women during pregnancy, and I’m wondering what to do about it. Looking through the photo gallery attached to the sun times article you’ve linked to, I think Gabrielle Ludwig is probably one of those affected.
For decades, doctors have been using medicines containing high doses of artificial female hormones in pregnant women thought to be at risk of miscarriage or having a premature birth. In general, these drugs have relatively minor effects on women, but in adult men even quite low doses of them shut down hormone production in the testicles and produce a state of chemical castration. No one in the medical profession seems to have taken in the significance of that fact. Over the years, literally millions of pregnant women have been given these drugs in doses well beyond what is required to chemically castrate an adult man.
It isn’t a widely appreciated fact (even among doctors), but male development in the unborn child isn’t driven directly by genes, but instead is driven by hormones produced in the testicles. If anything stops those hormones from being produced or doing their job, you get female development during that part of the pregnancy, even if the person is genetically male (see, for instance, the wikipedia articles for CAIS and Swyer’s syndrome).
As far as I’ve been able to tell, there are literally millions of nominally male people alive today who were exposed to castration-inducing doses of these drugs in the womb, and have presumably partly developed as female instead of male as a result. Since most of the pregnancy is devoted to brain development rather than genital development, it isn’t necessarily going to be immediately obvious if that has happened.
I’ve spent the last year investigating one particular group of these people, the “DES sons” (sons of women given a drug called DES as a treatment for miscarriage). There definitely is a problem as far as that drug is concerned. I think it’s likely that many other artificial hormones have a similar effect though.
DES (or diethylstilboestrol) is an extremely powerful artificial estrogen which was commonly used as a treatment for miscarriage from about 1940 until 1971 (when it was abruptly pulled from the market after a link to cancer was found). The typical dosage used for miscarriage treatment was absolutely colossal, equivalent to around half a million of today’s low dose contraceptive pills, most of which was administered during the second half of the pregnancy.
The official line is that the DES sons suffered almost no effects from being exposed to the equivalent of half a million contraceptive pills before birth, which to me seemed a little too good to be true. What I’ve found so far suggests that a colossal disaster took place and that there’s been a whopping cover up, aided by the level of shame associated with intersex conditions and people’s reluctance to talk about them.
There’s four main problems that DES sons seem to experience:
* physical intersex conditions (most commonly undescended testes, hypospadias and micropenis)
* lifelong low testosterone and other endocrine problems.
* Psychological problems of various kinds, along with “gender dysphoria” (the feeling of being a woman trapped in a mans body).
Many of them seem to have a “eunuchoid” body structure, which is often seen in intersex cases and is a consequence of having abnormally low testosterone levels during puberty. Looking at the pictures in the photo gallery of that article, Gabrielle Ludwig appears to have that body structure too. It’s basically a body that looks a bit like a cross between a man’s and a woman’s, with long, slender arms and legs; legs significantly longer than the upper body; quite feminine facial features (well they probably were when she was younger); an armspan greater than height; not much body hair and an inability to build upper body muscle (unless you take anabolic steroids, which most professional sportsmen do). From one of the photos it looks like Gabrielle has a female digit ratio too, i.e. index finger as long or longer than the ring finger.
The infertility many DES sons seem to experience is I think the result of direct damage to the testicles caused by prolonged exposure to such a high dose of artificial female hormones before birth. The other effects I think are due to testicular hormone production being suppressed during the time the DES was being given (typically the entire second and third trimester of the pregnancy). The genitals and reproductive organs develop during the first trimester, and the remainder of the pregnancy is when sexually dimorphic brain development takes place. What DES seems to have done to most of the DES sons is to create people with a male(ish) body, but a brain that has developed partly or completely as female instead of male. I appreciate it sounds preposterous that doctors could do something so reckless or get away with concealing it for so long, but I’ve put a lot of effort over the last year looking into this and it does appear to be what’s happened. Why else would you suddenly have people popping up all over the place who are trying to change themselves into women?
There’s a book about the DES disaster available as a free download:
The author, Pat Cody, lost her daughter to DES-related cancer and the book is more about DES daughters than DES sons, but in chapter 3 she does mention some of the effects many DES sons have suffered (and also their extreme reluctance to admit to or talk about them). She clearly didn’t know that the genital abnormalities and probably the endocrine problems too, are actually the result of intersexed development. I’m sure there are people who do know, but so far they’ve managed to keep a very tight lid on the whole thing. I’d like to shine a light on their dirty little secret. Is there any way free republic could help do that?
That is extremely interesting! I’m not sure what we can do, though, but I agree with you that it should be made public knowledge.