IS THERE A GAY GENE?
“Geneticists, anthropologists, developmental psychologists, sociologists, endocrinologists, neuroscientists, medical researchers into gender, and twin study researchers are in broad agreement about the role of genetics in homosexuality. Genes don’t make you do it. There is no genetic determinism, and genetic influence at most is minor.” (www.mygenes.co.nz)
The Hoax of a Gay Gene
(by Dr. Neil E. Whitehead)
The following is a summary of 20 years of scientific research into homosexuality by Dr. N.E. Whitehead covering more than 10,000 scientific papers and publications from all sides of the debate. The research is non-selective, orthodox, and objective. These conclusions are fully backed up in his book, My Genes Made Me Do It! – a Scientific Look at Sexual Orientation (published USA, 1999, latest edition August 2010).*
The huge amount of change in sexual orientation is one of the clearest evidences that homosexuality is not hard-wired by genes or anything in the biological environment.
Large studies now show that.
About half of those with exclusive SSA** move towards heterosexuality over a lifetime. Put another way, 3% of the practicing heterosexual population (both men and women) claim to have once been either bisexual or homosexual.
These changes are not therapeutically induced, but happen “naturally” in life, some very quickly.
Most changes in sexual orientation are towards exclusive heterosexuality.
Numbers of people who have changed towards exclusive OSA*** are greater than current numbers of bisexuals and exclusive SSA people combined. In other words, “Ex-gays outnumber actual gays.” Kinnish, K.K., Strassberg, D.S. and Turner, C.W. (2005) Sex Differences in the flexibility of Sexual Orientation: A Multidimensional Retrospective Assessment; Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 175-183.
Exclusive OSA*** is 17 times as stable as exclusive SSA for men, and 30 times as stable as exclusive SSA for women. (Women move about more in their sexual orientation than men.)
Most teenagers will change from SSA. In fact, in the 16 to 17 year age group, 98% will move from homosexuality and bisexuality towards heterosexuality.
16 year olds saying they are SSA or Bi-attracted are 25 times more likely to say they are opposite sex attracted at the age of 17 than those with a heterosexual orientation are likely to identify themselves as bi-sexual or homosexual.
16-year olds who claim they are opposite sex attracted will overwhelmingly remain that way. Savin-Williams, R.C. and Ream, G.L., (2007) Prevalence and Stability of Sexual Orientation Components During Adolescence and Young Adulthood; Archives of Sexual Behavior 36, 385-394.
These very complex comparisons of identical twins and non-identical twins definitively rule out genetic determinism. Identical twins with identical genes are about 11-14% concordant for SSA. If homosexuality were “genetic,” identical co-twins of homosexual men and women would also be homosexual 100% of the time. In classic twin studies the genetic fraction is less than 23% for men and 37% for women and may be as low as 10%. Twin studies continue to find steadily lower genetic fractions for homosexuality as methodology improves and samples become larger. Everyone has at least a 10% genetic factor influence in his or her thinking and behavior—simply because without genes there can be no human activity or behavior of any kind. Twin studies show that individualistic reactions to chance events (in which one identical twin reacts differently from the other) are by far the strongest contributors to homosexuality. In other words, randomness is a strong factor.
A scan of the whole genome has not found any homosexual genes, unlike the case for schizophrenia (which has still only identified 4 genes linked to 3%of schizophrenia.)
From an understanding of gene structure and function there are no plausible means by which genes could dictate SSA (or other behaviors) in a person.
So far, genetically dictated behaviors of the “one-gene-one-trait” variety have been found only in very simple organisms. Generally, geneticists agree that many genes (from at least five to many hundreds) contribute to any particular human behavior.
Any genetic influence is believed to be weak and indirect.
No genetically determined human behavior has yet been found. The most closely genetically-related behavior yet discovered (mono-amine oxidase deficiency leading to aggression) has shown itself remarkably responsive to counseling.
A genetically dominated SSA caused by a cluster of genes could not suddenly appear and disappear in families, as it does. It would persist through every generation for many generations. It is genetically implausible that many “heterosexual” genes could switch off at the same time.
The human race shares most of its genes—something between 99.7%and 99.9%. That means all ethnic groups will have most of them. This has three implications.
If homosexuality is genetically dictated, homosexual practices will be identical or very similar in all cultures. But the enormous range and diversity of homosexual practice and customs in different cultures (and within cultures) argues against this.
There would be a similar percentage of homosexuality in all cultures. But homosexuality has been unknown in some cultures and mandatory in others.
Changes in homosexual practice and behavior in different cultures would take place very slowly, over many centuries. But this is not what history shows. The decline of whole models (culturally specific expressions) of homosexuality within a century; the relatively sudden (in genetic terms) emergence of the present Western model over a couple of centuries; and abrupt changes of practice within an ethnic group, even over a single generation, are not consistent with anything genetic. It is even less so the swiftly changing sexual practices within the current Western model.
The occurrence of SSA in the population is too frequent to be caused by a faulty pre-natal developmental process, so it is not innate in that sense either. This includes epigenetic processes, i.e. influences of the environment on genetic expression.
If SSA were genetically determined, and led to same-sex contact only it would have bred itself out of the population in only several generations. It would not exist today.
First attractions (both SSA and OSA) occur on average at age 10 and are rarely “earliest memories” meaning attraction is mostly socially induced. The spread of ages of first attraction is very large, very different from the small spread of ages for the genetically pre-programmed event, puberty.
There have been many studies—none of which has shown any convincing strong relationship between homosexuality and exposure to pre-natal hormones, although several have shown very weak links between pre-natal hormone exposure and infant play. Studies examining effects of very high doses of female hormones to pregnant mothers show no effect on males and a dubious effect on women. Therapy changing levels of adult male and female sex hormones has been shown to affect sex drive but not orientation.
The idea that homosexuality results from pre-natal immune attack on male brain characteristics by the mother is poorly supported. In that case male testes and genitalia (having the largest cluster of male-specific targets) should be attacked but are not.
Numerous older studies of brain microstructures, in the nineties, have failed to come up with replicable differences between adult heterosexual and homosexual brains.
Modern studies show male and female brains at birth are not structurally different, making the likelihood of a specifically “homosexual” brain remote indeed. The main consistently replicable difference, from about age two or three, is their size.
The environment has effects on major sexual dimorphism from birth to puberty and beyond.
Sexual dimorphism of the brain mainly occurs at puberty, but even so, experts still have difficulty identifying structural differences between adult male and female brains (let alone heterosexual and homosexual). There is substantial overlap.
Neuroscientists are finding that the brain is extraordinarily plastic. The scientific consensus now is that even as an adult, we are what we are making our brains even though we may not be aware of the constant ongoing process. These changes in microstructure are visible in brain scans, within months.
If differences are found between homosexual and heterosexual brains they are probably the result of years of conditioning (repeated thinking patterns and behavior).
About 90% of Western “intersex” children (those born with ambiguous genitalia) choose to remain in their gender of upbringing when puberty reveals their true genetic gender and surgical interventions are offered. Often, this choice has been made in the face of very contrary physical and hormonal characteristics. It argues for predominant environmental influences on the formation of gender orientation and behavior.
Divorce of parents (as judged from Danish gay marriage backgrounds) doubles the risk of later homosexuality in children.
The stages of psycho-social development toward adult heterosexuality are well defined and accepted by developmental psychologists, and are so obviously learned that heterosexuality is clearly not genetically mandated. In surveys of adult homosexuals many show deficits in several of these developmental stages—suggesting that homosexuality is cultural and environmental rather than genetic.
There is a much higher occurrence of homosexuality among those who have been raised in large cities, rather than in rural areas, arguing that the environment is much more powerful than genes in the development of homosexuality.
A scientific/sociological tool, Path Analysis, has been argued to show that there is no social or familial basis to homosexuality, but rather a biological one. However, social and family paths leading to homosexuality were collectively significant, though individual paths were not. In contrast genetic paths were collectively insignificant.
Our instincts, such as self-preservation, hunger, and reproduction, are among the most deeply embedded and strongest impulses we have, but these are able to be controlled and even adapted. If we want to argue homosexuality is also a deeply ingrained instinct, we can also argue it should be malleable and responsive to training.
Causes of SSA**
There is no one cause. No single genetic, hormonal, social, or environmental factor is predominant. There are similar themes, childhood gender non-conformity, sexual abuse, peer and family dynamics, sexual history, but the mix varies with individuals making individualistic responses the single overriding factor. Two children from the same family and social environment can interpret incidents very differently. So random reaction, if it structures itself into self-image, can become a significant contributor to homosexuality—as twin studies show. The overriding outcome is a homo-emotional focus on people of the same sex that, at puberty, gets confused or melded with genital sex. This begins to finds expression in sexual acts with others of the same sex which become habitual and often (particularly in males) addictive.
It can be changed. Where responses are deeply entrenched it takes courage, commitment, perseverance, effort, self-examination and support from others. But many people who have not gotten into the behavior and lifestyle very deeply change more easily.
Is it all worth it? Is it worthwhile to gain the freedom where nothing rules over you? Is it worthwhile to find others who have shared the same struggle? Is it satisfying to join a group who are the real heroes? Is it worthwhile to come out of what did not involve conscious choice, by an adult conscious choice? Is it worthwhile to do what others say is impossible? If a change like this is possible, what else may be possible?
DNA is a ladder of nitrogenous bases and sugars that is a recipe for proteins, not sexual preferences. But it is also a ladder of destiny, a Jacob’s ladder, and it is our choice whether angels or demons walk up and down it. We can decide to capitulate to the “genetic argument.” Do your genes make you do it? You choose.
I saw, struggling in a stagnant pool, a bee which had somehow fallen in. It flapped its wings futilely and tried to dog-paddle, but made no progress. It seemed to be drowning. All around the bee were little creatures called water-fleas who hopped round, trouble-free on the surface of the water. They didn’t seem interested in the bee at all. I took the bee out of the pool using a dead leaf from a tree, and set it down nearby on the slate surround. The bee staggered off the leaf, drunkenly wandering in its new freedom, headed straight back to the pool and fell in again. I lifted it out once more, and the bee staggered round rather aimlessly and seemed quite lost. I transferred it further away onto some grass. It tried to use its wings, but it looked to me as though they might be torn, and it might never fly again. It staggered from blade to blade, under some and over some in the three dimensional maze of the herbage. It even hopped from one blade to another, perhaps pathetically imagining it was flying. Then—suddenly—after I had practically given up, it flew! It wove a surprisingly straight course through the airy dimensions and was out of sight in seconds. I never saw it again. This I know: that bee reached heights the water-fleas couldn’t even dream of and so can you. –Dr. Neil Whitehead
*My Genes Made me do it! is constantly being revised and updated.
** SSA is shorthand for Same Sex Attraction.
***OSA is shorthand for Opposite Sex Attraction.
http://www.mygenes.co.nz/summary.htm and http://www.mygenes.co.nz/transsexuality.htm
All documentation quoted verbatim from Dr. N.E. Whitehead with permission.
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end is the way of death.”
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
Dr. Neil Whitehead’s Web Site
Dr. Neil Whitehead answers, “Is there a gay gene?”
“This is the Way God Made Me” A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the “Gay Gene”
Lesbian No Longer
Testimony of Sy Rogers, Ex- Transsexual