Genetics and Sexual Orientation

945 words (4 pages) Essay

11th Sep 2017 Psychology Reference this

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Robin Tyler once said, "If homosexuality is a disease, let's all call in queer to work: 'Hello. Can't work today, still queer.'" It is the precedent that any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality is a disease that is the problem in society rather than the orientation itself. There is proof, however, that there could be a correlation between genetics/prenatal conditions and sexual orientation. Just as the hormone levels in the womb impact the development of certain areas of the brain it can also impact the sexual orientation of the child later in life.

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Just a few factors that influence prenatal conditions include stressors, hormones, and chemicals. Stress during pregnancy alters the production of certain hormones exposed to the fetus. In a rat study conducted by Ward Laboratories, stressing the pregnant rats carrying male babies tended to increase the likelihood of that child having female-typical sexual behavior. This happens because the stress disrupts the prenatal surge of testosterone that occurs in developing males. Although stress impacts the developing offspring in different ways depending on the gender of the child. In females, stress increases rate of testosterone production thus impairing female-typical sexual behavior and even courtship behavior. In a study conducted with 200 men, researchers asked about stressful events that occurred during their mother's pregnancy. They found that stressful events were recalled by 68% of homosexual men, 40% of bisexual men, but only 6% of heterosexual men. (Hines, Melissa) With this information it can be inferred that these stressors influence the sexuality of the offspring by means of the varying hormone levels.

The genetics perspective says that this correlation is evident due to the twin studies and pedigree analyses conducted in recent years. For example, lesbians are three times more likely to have lesbian sisters, as well as relatives in general, than a heterosexual female. This suggests that genetics play a role in the determination of one's sexual orientation. Similarly, in twin studies, concurrence of sexual orientation among twins is greater than that of siblings who are not twins. (Homosexuality and Genetics) While this shows that it is possible for people to be born with a homosexual disposition, it is only a factor of the eventual product. This genetic factor in conjunction with prenatal hormones and the developing individual's environment result in their eventual sexuality. An example of genetics playing a role in the development of one's sexual orientation is seen with congenital adrenal hyperplasia wherein the condition is passed on by means of heredity.

The correlation between genetics and sexual orientation is picking up speed in the research aspect of the science world. Regarding the prenatal hormones involved, it has been speculated that women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), who experience abnormally high levels of prenatal androgens, are more likely to engage in same-sex behavior compared to women without CAH. (Homosexuality and Genetics) Androgens are often misclassified as strictly male hormones however they are crucial to the development of vital organs and systems in both genders. It is the abnormal amount of this hormone that causes problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and symptoms of menopause. (Simon, James, PhD) This condition, that deals with a form of testosterone, is genetic therefore it can be passed on by means of a parent who either carries or expresses the trait. Women with CAH are more likely to engage in same-sex behavior because of the impact the excess testosterone has on the development of the brain.

Two key differences in brain structure regarding sexuality involves the amygdala, controlling emotion, fear, and aggression and the symmetry of the cerebrum. In a positron emissions tomography scan, researchers observed that in gay men and straight women, blood tended to flow towards parts of the amygdala that control fear and anxiety the most. In straight men and lesbians, blood tended to flow toward the parts controlling aggression. Similarly, the cerebrum of both heterosexual women and homosexual men is symmetrical whereas the cerebrum of hetersexual men and homosexual women is asymmetrical. (Swaminathan, Nikhil) This research shows that the brains of homosexual men have similar functions to those of heterosexual women.

With this research and the evidence presented from the findings it opens doors for the LGBTQ community. With the stigma around homosexuality implying that your sexuality is a choice, it makes it hard for non-heterosexuals to gain the same civil rights as the "typical" straight white male. From these studies, it can be proven that your sexuality is not a choice nor is it a "disease". It is a trait, just as someone may have blue eyes. From this research, and expansions to further validate these findings, it could open the door to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

References

Homosexuality and Genetics. Schaeff, Cathy, PhD, Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health, January, 2016

Swaminathan, Nikhil. "Study Says Brains of Gay Men and Women Are Similar." Scientific American. 16 June 2008. Web. 01 Jan. 2017.

Simon, James, PhD. "Androgen." Healthy Women. Web.

Hines, Melissa. "Prenatal Endocrine Influences on Sexual Orientation and on Sexually Differentiated Childhood Behavior." Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 32.2 (2011): 170-182. PMC. Web. 1 Jan. 2017.

Robin Tyler once said, "If homosexuality is a disease, let's all call in queer to work: 'Hello. Can't work today, still queer.'" It is the precedent that any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality is a disease that is the problem in society rather than the orientation itself. There is proof, however, that there could be a correlation between genetics/prenatal conditions and sexual orientation. Just as the hormone levels in the womb impact the development of certain areas of the brain it can also impact the sexual orientation of the child later in life.

Just a few factors that influence prenatal conditions include stressors, hormones, and chemicals. Stress during pregnancy alters the production of certain hormones exposed to the fetus. In a rat study conducted by Ward Laboratories, stressing the pregnant rats carrying male babies tended to increase the likelihood of that child having female-typical sexual behavior. This happens because the stress disrupts the prenatal surge of testosterone that occurs in developing males. Although stress impacts the developing offspring in different ways depending on the gender of the child. In females, stress increases rate of testosterone production thus impairing female-typical sexual behavior and even courtship behavior. In a study conducted with 200 men, researchers asked about stressful events that occurred during their mother's pregnancy. They found that stressful events were recalled by 68% of homosexual men, 40% of bisexual men, but only 6% of heterosexual men. (Hines, Melissa) With this information it can be inferred that these stressors influence the sexuality of the offspring by means of the varying hormone levels.

The genetics perspective says that this correlation is evident due to the twin studies and pedigree analyses conducted in recent years. For example, lesbians are three times more likely to have lesbian sisters, as well as relatives in general, than a heterosexual female. This suggests that genetics play a role in the determination of one's sexual orientation. Similarly, in twin studies, concurrence of sexual orientation among twins is greater than that of siblings who are not twins. (Homosexuality and Genetics) While this shows that it is possible for people to be born with a homosexual disposition, it is only a factor of the eventual product. This genetic factor in conjunction with prenatal hormones and the developing individual's environment result in their eventual sexuality. An example of genetics playing a role in the development of one's sexual orientation is seen with congenital adrenal hyperplasia wherein the condition is passed on by means of heredity.

The correlation between genetics and sexual orientation is picking up speed in the research aspect of the science world. Regarding the prenatal hormones involved, it has been speculated that women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), who experience abnormally high levels of prenatal androgens, are more likely to engage in same-sex behavior compared to women without CAH. (Homosexuality and Genetics) Androgens are often misclassified as strictly male hormones however they are crucial to the development of vital organs and systems in both genders. It is the abnormal amount of this hormone that causes problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and symptoms of menopause. (Simon, James, PhD) This condition, that deals with a form of testosterone, is genetic therefore it can be passed on by means of a parent who either carries or expresses the trait. Women with CAH are more likely to engage in same-sex behavior because of the impact the excess testosterone has on the development of the brain.

Two key differences in brain structure regarding sexuality involves the amygdala, controlling emotion, fear, and aggression and the symmetry of the cerebrum. In a positron emissions tomography scan, researchers observed that in gay men and straight women, blood tended to flow towards parts of the amygdala that control fear and anxiety the most. In straight men and lesbians, blood tended to flow toward the parts controlling aggression. Similarly, the cerebrum of both heterosexual women and homosexual men is symmetrical whereas the cerebrum of hetersexual men and homosexual women is asymmetrical. (Swaminathan, Nikhil) This research shows that the brains of homosexual men have similar functions to those of heterosexual women.

With this research and the evidence presented from the findings it opens doors for the LGBTQ community. With the stigma around homosexuality implying that your sexuality is a choice, it makes it hard for non-heterosexuals to gain the same civil rights as the "typical" straight white male. From these studies, it can be proven that your sexuality is not a choice nor is it a "disease". It is a trait, just as someone may have blue eyes. From this research, and expansions to further validate these findings, it could open the door to end discrimination against the LGBTQ community.

References

Homosexuality and Genetics. Schaeff, Cathy, PhD, Salem Press Encyclopedia of Health, January, 2016

Swaminathan, Nikhil. "Study Says Brains of Gay Men and Women Are Similar." Scientific American. 16 June 2008. Web. 01 Jan. 2017.

Simon, James, PhD. "Androgen." Healthy Women. Web.

Hines, Melissa. "Prenatal Endocrine Influences on Sexual Orientation and on Sexually Differentiated Childhood Behavior." Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 32.2 (2011): 170-182. PMC. Web. 1 Jan. 2017.

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