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I have a question. It's for real, I'm not a troll. It might be a stupid question, but I'm wondering about any research re: a genetic link to being LGTB

(19 Posts)
Jacksmania Mon 20-Jun-11 23:19:31

First, I am really not a troll. I've been on MN since 2008. My first posting name was Jacksmama but galwaygal renamed me by typo on southsearocks' premature baby thread and I liked it so I stuck with it. If you want to search my posting history, I'm a regular in the One Child Tea Room and the Sphincter Injury/ Fistula thread. Most of my life is on those threads so I hope you can see I'm not some random nut. (A nut, maybe, but not random.)

I'm really not at all trying to insult anyone, but am aware that I might unintentionally do so, so am going to apologize in advance for any offense caused. And this might have been covered elsewhere and if so I haven't seen it, so, again, sorry blush

So the question I have is, has there been any research on whether there is or might be a genetic component to being a lesbian, gay or bisexual? I do know that there is some theorizing regarding transgender that some people are just "born into the wrong body". I was wondering if there is any research for LGB. The reason I'm wondering is because of observing body types. I went to college in Texas for six years (not the most LGBT-friendly place in the world as you might imagine) and went to the Lilith Fair with a friend one year. Fab fab fab music!! And an interesting place to observe, too - not in an animals-in-the-zoo kind of way though!! Please don't think that. I don't know if it's bad to say I have no prejudice at all or if that just sounds like crap people say... but I really don't care about people's sexual preferences. God, sorry, I'm taking half my OP to establish that I'm not a completely cow - you're all going to think what you're going to think anyway, so I'm just going to go on with what I want to ask.

I went to college in the late 90's, and back then (again, sorry, I don't mean this to sound offensive) people "classified" lesbians into either "butch" lesbians or what was called "lipstick lesbians" in TX. And gay guys were either the really effeminate types or the really super-macho ones. Of course I'm totally aware that probably the majority don't fall into either "type".

But it lead me to thinking, and I wondered if the very masculine lesbians, and the very feminine gay guys had a real genetic cause for their sexual preference. I'm sort of a scientific nerd type, I started out as a nurse and now work in an alternative health profession (I bet the poster who did the "ask me to cyber-stalk you" thread could find out what in a heartbeat), and I frequently find myself wondering about cause and effect.

It just seems to me that if it could ever be proven that there are genetic reasons for people's sexual preference, it might stop some of the prejudice that abounds. One aspect of living in TX was exposure to a lot of really religious people. I'm not religion-bashing at all, but I found that a lot of very religious people espouse the idea that being homosexual is a sin worthy of death and I think that's a giant load of crap.

The thing is, I also wonder, if research were to show that there is a genetic component to one's sexual preference, would medical science try to find a "cure"? Because to me, that would be wrong, too.

Crap. I hope I haven't just opened a giant can of worms. If I have, I'll ask for the thread to be deleted. I'm not flame-resistant, and I really am not trying to hurt anyone. I'm really hoping that some of you can work your way through what I'm asking in this ridiculously long OP.

LeninGrad Mon 20-Jun-11 23:26:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jacksmania Mon 20-Jun-11 23:31:50

I like "let's all love each other" grin

Jacksmania Mon 20-Jun-11 23:32:37

<breathes a sigh of relief that at least one person saw the OP as a genuine question, not as a way to make trouble>

LeninGrad Mon 20-Jun-11 23:33:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hester Mon 20-Jun-11 23:35:08

Didn't Simon LeVay find differences in brain scans between gay male and straight male brains? I don't think we got any evidence on lesbians, and there's a debate about whether these differences are cause or effect...

I seem to remember something about lesbian fingers as well. can't remember the detail, just that according to this theory I am heterosexual grin

In the US there is a lot of interest in proving that homosexuals are 'born that way', and that is the basis of much gay rights campaigning. Here, I think many gay people are a bit more 'Who knows why I'm gay and who cares' about it all. And perhaps a bit cynical that being proving that gay people are made not born will eradicate prejudice.

hester Mon 20-Jun-11 23:35:44

Hey, we like you Jacksmania, we're not going to duff you up in the toilets grin

Jacksmania Mon 20-Jun-11 23:48:25

Really? blush Thanks!!

If it helps - I live in that very polite and tolerant country where the Olympics were held last year. Very close to that city, actually. If you watched the opening ceremonies, there was a poem about Canadians. We hate giving offence and if we bump into anything on the street, we apologize first and then look... frequently to find we've apologized to a post box grin

(Please, please, please ignore the riots over the Stanley Cup last week - it was sickening sad.)

I'm super-interested in genetics and research of any kind... I've got one of "those" brains grin

I just always wondered how the way someone is made could be/go "wrong". Other than structural defects I mean (like cleft lip and palate, for example - that's failure of fusion, at the embryonic level, like spina bifida). And, most important of all, I've always wondered how any kind of love could be wrong.

Am I too naive for my own good?

MardyBra Tue 21-Jun-11 00:03:43

I remember watching this John Barrowman documentary a couple of years ago.
The conclusion: "While no gay gene has been singled out, there is mounting evidence that testosterone levels in the womb and the way our brains are formed are what determine sexuality, rather than any environmental factor while growing up."

Jacksmania Tue 21-Jun-11 00:05:16

Huh. See, to me that's really interesting, it explains things in an entirely satisfactory way. It's too bloody bad that people have to go slapping judgements on differences. angry

MardyBra Tue 21-Jun-11 00:11:01

The bit I remember most about the documentary was when they wired up his brain and showed him naked laydeez to see if he had any straight tendencies and he got all worried!

LeninGrad Tue 21-Jun-11 10:28:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

drivingmisscrazy Tue 21-Jun-11 22:31:57

I think this is a really interesting question - and one that is rarely articulated for what it is. But it has a huge bearing on the way in which, for example, questions of equality and rights are handled (go Canada!). I suspect that, like most human behaviour (as opposed to physical misfires in genetic coding like the ones you describe) it's a spectrum. I've often wondered about some of the very masculine dykes I've met (and also about the uber feminine gay guys) - you really can pick them out easily.

But for many of us I suspect that there's a combination of a predisposition - perhaps a curiosity about what it would be like to be a different gender? combined with a reaction to a standard model. My DP, certainly, clearly recalls thinking as a very small child that the version of femininity that was exhibited by her mother (a lovely woman) was impossible to reconcile with her sense of self. So it's not necessarily a rejection of femininity, but of a particular cultural ideal of femininity.

I don't know, but I don't think it's purely genetic - which is not to suggest that you can be 'made' to be gay (or not), any more than a child can be made to have a bad temper, be shy, good at art etc...

Jacksmania Wed 22-Jun-11 17:43:38

I do think it must be a combination of factors. But I wonder about the variance in those factors, and my wondering is based on observation of body types. Perhaps for some of the more manly-looking lesbians, it is a more-testosterone-in-the-womb thing - so more a biologic compulsion. And for others, a preference, curiosity, whatever.

Just like for some children, there must be a biologic predisposition to certain things - I'm thinking of my DS who is very athletic even at age 3. DH played (Canadian) football in school, and is one of those fit muscly guys (yum... blush) and I'm not a natural-born athlete but have become fairly fit an as adult.

Anyway, I don't want to abandon the discussion if anyone wants to keep it going, just wanted to say that we're off and away for a few days so if you don't see me, it's not from lack of interest, but rather lack of internet connection smile

Thanks all, for taking me seriously. <mwah>

MardyBra Wed 22-Jun-11 18:45:43

It's certainly an interesting question. I remember years ago having a conversation with a friend who felt strongly that he didn't want scientists to investigate whether there was a gay gene, because homophobic parents (like his) would probably abort gay foetuses, and he wouldn't have existed. shock
Conversely, I suppose if there was a biological explanation, then at least the homophobes could be told that it is a natural phenomenon. You can just imagine the comments: "gay people can't help themselves" hmm.

drivingmisscrazy Wed 22-Jun-11 21:07:24

also meant to say Jacksmania that I appreciate the bona fides, actually.

dogscatsandbabies Thu 23-Jun-11 10:23:22

I've always been an advocate of the 'spectrum' as mentioned above. I have no real scientific basis for this but a general feeling that boxes don't work when you try to classify any type of behaviour trait.
I describe it to people as a continuum- at one end is the most homophobic, straight-as-they-come bigot individual and at the other end is Alan Carr!! I theorise that everyone falls somewhere on the continuum at birth as a result of genetic ad hormonal factors and then we have the ability to move up or down it due to active factors... a deeply religious upbringing or exposure to an empowering role model for example.
As a lesbian I don't feel I need for people to know I was 'born this way', it would be just as acceptable to know that I was born with the liklihood of being gay and, thank God, was raised in an environment that allowed me to embrace that and didn't ever offer anti-gay teaching.

Jacksmania Thu 23-Jun-11 15:47:16

You're welcome drivingmisscrazy, I figured that if I were going to ask a question that could be sensitive about a large group's lifestyle, I'd better provide a way for you all to check into who I am (at least who I am here on MN) smile.

teacupof Wed 06-Jul-11 16:08:15

Hi Jacksmania

I have studied gender and sexuality and I recommend you have a look at Prof. Melissa Hines's work - google her for her current work, she is at the university of cambridge - but I know her book 'brain gender' (2004?) covers a lot of the research on what biologically might make us boys and girls, and also what might influence who we're attracted to. Pretty interesting stuff!

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