Historically, anti-gay rhetoric has stood by the theory that same-sex relationships are ‘unnatural,’ as two men cannot give birth to a child, and neither can two women. The assumption is that the Judeo-Christian God meant only for a union between a man and a woman, and anything else is ‘sinful’ in God’s eyes—which is why two men or two women cannot conceive a child naturally. Well, according to fertility physician Dr. John Zhang at the New Hope Fertility Center, God got it wrong—and needs our help.
In September of 2016, Dr. Zhang delivered the first “three-person baby” in Mexico. This breakthrough could change the future of childbearing and give those in the LGBTQIA community the opportunity to have children genetically related to parents unable to conceive sexually, as a heterosexual couple can. “One day, in a not so far away future, we can help God,” asserts Zhang. “God needs our help. We can have a two-sperm baby or a two-egg baby. That’s absolutely possible. When that happens, it will change people’s lives.”
Dr. Zhang achieved this breakthrough using a procedure known as a spindle nuclear transfer. “If you take the cell of a chicken egg, human eggs have the same structure,” says Zhang, explaining the procedure. “The nucleus in the chicken egg is the egg yolk, and the cytoplasm are the egg shell and egg white. If you take the egg white from the donor egg and use the egg yolk from the patient, now you have a new egg. Then you introduce the sperm, and that’s called a ‘three-person.’” Zhang emphasized the ‘three-person’—not ‘three-parent’—term, noting that, “‘Parent’ means you get to raise that child. ‘Three-person’ is more accurate.”
The spindle nuclear transfer was originally meant for couples who carry genetic disorders such as Leigh Syndrome, which causes miscarriages by affecting the developing nervous system of the unborn child. But the procedure has potential applications outside those intended for heterosexual couples; it opens the door for same-sex couples to have children with both individual’s genes.
But medical advances could offer other options for same-sex couples. Advances in science, such as artificial sperm and artificial eggs, would get rid of a third person in question altogether. “Artificial sperm and eggs are already happening,” Dr. Zhang affirms. “It can be done. It will be done. Ethical issues and regulation aside—if we are just talking about purely science, it is possible. We are able to create artificial sperm, artificial eggs and artificial embryos . . . I think if it really is going to benefit mankind, sooner or later, it will become popular.”
For the last twenty years, scientists have been developing what is called in-vitro gametogenesis—turning cells of the body into sperm or egg cells. This technology bypasses the ethical issues disputed with stem cell research and will change the way the world perceives everything from conception to childbearing, childrearing and family. The cells of someone born male could be turned into egg cells, and the cells of someone born female could be turned into sperm cells—arguably bringing the evolutionary cycle full circle. After all, according to Dr. Zhang, “From an evolutionary point of view, the Y chromosome is a degenerative chromosome from an X chromosome. So, if you are really talking about evolution and talking to a God, God created the female, and then the male came afterwards. That is why, even today, many fish are only female. In order to breed—when the water temperature changes, part of the body changes, so that they can have sexual reproduction, and after that the body turns back to female.”
In the end, gender is a social construct, and the idea that women are only born with XX chromosomes and men with XY is inaccurate. The twenty-three pairs of chromosomes that determine sex vary, and, contrary to popular belief, some men can be born with only XX, and some women born with XY pairings.
A person’s perceived gender or sexual orientation is of no consequence to the quality of life and love they can give a child. Although these advancements still have a long way to go, they’re an extraordinary example of the ways in which, like artificial hearts and organ transplants, medical science can benefit mankind.