Monday, November 28, 2011

Ask Tat: The Why of Gayness.

"Is being gay a product of choice, preference, environment or is it caused by a mutated sex determining gene?"

None of the above. These are often given as the main guesses but they are notabily wrong and naive. A couple facts of gayness.

1) Twins share sexual preference to a greater degree than siblings share sexual preference.
2) Identical twins share sexual preference to a greater degree than fraternal twins.
3) Identical twins do not share 100% identical sexual preference.
4) The youngest son of a woman who has had several sons has a statistically significant increased chance of being homosexual.
5) This increased chance does not exist if the child is not biologically hers.

These aren't in dispute. And they tell us a lot of what the answer could be. In that it's not choice, and it's not strictly genetics. It is to some degree congenial (being established during gestation), and to some degree genetic. Because twins are more likely to share sexual orientation than siblings and they are genetically just siblings. But, identical twins don't absolutely share sexual identity, which would be a requirement if it were genetic because they would share all of their genes.

So we're likely talking about something that is genetically influenced, that happens during development in a rather complicated cascade of hormones that isn't absolute. The ability to turn off the attraction to one sex during development isn't absolute. In fact, in bonobos it's completely gone leaving the population to be completely bisexual. Attraction to generally one gender more than another isn't an exacting thing, it's actually somewhat vague and sometimes wrong. Just as gender identity is often wrong, and a large degree of inter-sexed people. The fact is, being attracted to men, is perfectly common and typical for women. So it's not as much some kind of freak mutation as a imperfect sexual dimorphism of a somewhat useful but generally unrequired non-attraction to one gender. Both non-attraction to men and non-attraction to women are common but they are generally closely tied with one's gender. Being closely rather than absolutely means that gayness exists.

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