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chelle21689's avatar

Can being gay be genetic?

Asked by chelle21689 (5206 points ) October 11th, 2012

Just curious because I noticed on my mother’s side of the family that a BIG majority of my cousins are gay, lesbian, or transgendered. I’m going to give fake names
And these are just a FEW of my uncles and aunts on my mom’s side lol
Aunt Diana and Uncle Joe have 3 LGBT kids
Aunt Josie and Uncle Dan have 1 LGBT kids
Aunt Christy and Uncle Jason have 2 LGBT kids
Aunt Tina and Uncle George have 1 LGBT kid

I’m very curious to know. I’ve never seen so many in a small family. My cousin even said they suspect her brother and our other cousin to be gay because one acts feminine and likes girl clothes and the other female cousin cried when she wore a skirt. She likes pants, shirts, and punching bags.

is it possible?

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28 Answers

Buttonstc's avatar

So far, research has shown the strong genetic links in families , they just have not been able to isolate genetics as the only cause or identified a specific gene like they’ve been able to do for things like Huntingdons or some breast cancers.

Other possibilities include hormonal influences on the fetus (which is quite different from genes) but still clearly points toward “born that way”

I actually think its a good thing that a specific gene has not been identified. Should a child be potentially aborted just because the parents are dimwit homophobes? Being able to test for a gay gene would certainly put that possibility on the table.

And I honestly don’t think t would shut up those who claim that its a choice because. when you get right down to it, ones behavior is still a choice regardless of genetics.

And human sexuality is far too complex to be isolated to a single gene.

emilianate's avatar

There will be definitive proof that it’s genetic within next few years, according to this bioethics expert Gay or straight baby – the choice could be yours says expert

“We can screen foetuses for many, many conditions and we can now also screen embryos before they are implanted in a woman.”

“And we can say ‘we want these embryos because they don’t have this mutation and they’re a boy or we want these.’

It’s going to be interesting to see if pro-choice supporters will become pro-life supports because of this.

hearkat's avatar

I suspect that there are a myriad of factors, genetics being one of them. However, it isn’t always genetic, because there are cases of identical twins where one is heterosexual and the other is LGBT.

laureth's avatar

It may be genetic, but it doesn’t have to be directly genetic. It could be, for example, the side effect of a genetic trait.

Link.

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Buttonstc's avatar

@emilianate

You state that “there will be definitive proof…in the next few years” and link to a brief article with quotes from a bio-ethicist.

The problem is that the farthest that this gentleman is willing to go is “we may be able to…”
And he uses the phrase “we may be” twice.

There is a HUGE yawning chasm between “will be definitive proof…in the next few years” and the more measured “may be able to”.

There is so far nothing coming from the scientific community to indicate that there will be definitive proof in the next few years because it’s just not that simple or easy.

The expert in that article is in the field of bio-ETHICS (which is a different field) rather than pure science research.

It’s the job of bio-ethicists to promote and stimulate thoughtful discussion on many of the issues which MAY come to pass (such as cloning, genetic testing and numerous others) as well as those which may never happen. They deal a lot in hypotheticals because they feel it’s helpful to society as a whole to have these exploratory conversations to spark decision making as far in advance as possible rather than playing catch-up in haste.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these various scenarios are just around the corner. Some might be; others may me really far off.

I taught Elementary school for many years and came across my fair share of kids who were gay (even tho they were still too young to be even thinking about sexual orientation, much less doing anything about it)

But there is no way that I would presume to think that there was 100% certainty that they would all end up as gay adults.

Human behavior is far too complex a subject for simplistic approaches.

And it’s my personal opinion that it will eventually be realized that there are numerous factors causing sexual orientation, some physical such as hormones. combination of genes, structure of the brain etc with others being emotional or behavioral or family dynamics.

The age old question of nature vs. nurture has been debated for years and will continue to be for many years.

As @hearkat mentioned regarding twins: if it were only genetics then both twins would be gay. Clearly that’s not the case even tho identical twins share identical DNA.

And i’m not surprised by that at all as someone who has dealt with several pairs of identical twins in my classes over the years. After about a week or so, I knew immediately with which one I was dealing because their personalities were each so distinct (and often polar opposite in temperament). The faces and DNA might be identical, but that’s where the similarity ended.

Biology is not destiny because there are so many other factors which come into play.

If a DNA test were ever developed for “gayness” it would still be far from definitive. The most it could do would be to point to a greater likelihood but not certainty.

And ignorant homophobes could end up eliminating a perfectly healthy and brilliant heterosexual child who just happens to have an innate ability for designing clothes or home decorating. (There are currently enough straight guys in both of those industries to adequately prove that point without beating it into the ground.) For every RuPaul, there’s also a Frederic Fakai (sp?)

bookish1's avatar

Wait… what does liking pants have to do with what kind of people you like to have sex with? Why does the “sexual orientation” of children even come up as a question??

Unless these kids are announcing their sexual preferences, you can only infer they are ‘gay’ based on the assumption that sexual preference and gender expression are the exact. same. thing. Which… they are not. Cause, you know, there are straight women who like pants, and gay men who couldn’t give a damn about women’s clothes or fashion, etc…

tedd's avatar

It is very plausible (in fact likely) that there are some predisposed genetic factors that would favor someone being homosexual. Maybe you make too much of a hormone, or not enough of another, or what have you. That could be decided by your genes, which would be passed down to your offspring. In that sense, it could be genetic.

I however believe its probably a combination of genes and environment that leads to someone being homosexual.

everephebe's avatar

It is certainly very plausible, and my gut tells me yes.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@hearkat That is quite interesting. A dear friend and former co-worker is a male with an identical twin. My friend is gay and his brother is not. The friend has a partner who is also an identical twin. The partner’s twin brother is not gay.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

I honestly believe it is a meaningless question form a sociological standpoint. As people can often choose to base their identity on other factors: nurture for example.

As one deeply interested in science I’m compelled to wait by for the answer for it’s own sake.

Nullo's avatar

Keep in mind that genes aren’t the only things that run in families.

chelle21689's avatar

Nullo what are you trying to say?

I don’t think it’s just coincidence that so many of my cousins on my mom’s side are gay, lesbian, bi, transgendered. I’m serious they’re all at least one of those.

chelle21689's avatar

Bookish1, I’m trying to say that the little girl tends to be more into guy stuff and act more like a boy. You can’t lie and tell me that boys who tend to like girl’s clothes and are into that stuff aren’t likely to turn out not heterosexual. They strongly suspect she’s lesbian because of how she is and others of the family who are lesbian are that way. Of course, I’m not stupid, there are “feminine” lesbians but come on now stop lying to yourself.

emeraldisles's avatar

Well my dad’s trandsgendered and I consider myself to be gay and that is that. But I consider myself to be a cross between a feminine person and a tomboy too. Howver, though I like makeup and hair, I also have an interest in trucks, some sports, history, wearing a suit, going shooting( well maybe).

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Well, considering the human body is generic, at first, and only certain hormones introduced at certain developmental levels makes a human a male or female, I can see how an inherited tendency to have too much or too little of a certain hormone could cause that family to produce a higher percentage of gay or lesbian people.

When my daughter was studying human sexuality in college, I found her textbook to be fascinating, especially the chapter on hermaphrodites. There are many conditions that can result in a hermaphrodite. Males who were subjected to too much estrogen during gestation, females who were subjected to too much testosterone. Males who are immune to testosterone. Mistakes in the division of chromosomes, resulting in xxy or xyy, or xxyy, or just an x.

After reading this, it is kind of amazing that the majority of us come out normal (please, not saying that transgendered people are ABnormal, but you know what I mean.)

And this is just some of the physical reasons that could cause gender misidentification. Then add to that all of the psychological reasons that could play a factor.

Coloma's avatar

As always nature/nurture. I think that it is 50/50 genetically predetermined for some and psychologically determined for others. I had a twice married friend who “became” gay after her 2nd failed relationship/marriage with a man. She had never mentioned any predisposition to being bisexual or having any interest in women.

I think she went for the female relationship because it felt somehow “safer” for her and she also had some emotional problems and a history of male sexual abuse as a child. In her case I feel the determining factor was all psychological.

everephebe's avatar

@Nullo True, but genes are pretty much the only guaranteed hand-me-downs you get consistently. The science isn’t in yet, but it’s not a thought to be discounted.

marinelife's avatar

There appears, from current research, to be a definite genetic component.

Nullo's avatar

@chelle21689 I’m saying that there may be an environmental component. Families can have internal subcultures or habits or what-have-you that can impact development. Sort of like how smoking and obesity, and their attendant issues, can run in families.

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Lil_Anal_Annie's avatar

I’ve studied psychology and I’d consider myself a behaviorist. I personally don’t believe that there can be a gene in our DNA that determines whether we are gay or straight. I truly believe that our environment determines our sexuality later in life. To put this into some perspective I also believe that the environment affects our brains. With that said, it is my believe that when raising a child from birth, if desired, one could condition the child to be straight or gay.

To believe there is something in our DNA that causes us to enjoy sex from people of the opposing gender is saying that one is born homosexual. Vice versa it would say infants and babies can also be born heterosexual. This implies infants and babies are gay or straight. As we all know infants and babies to not have a developed limbic system nor could they understand the concept of sex and relationships. Therefore I believe as one becomes older their understanding of relationships in conjuction with the environment (teachers, parents, philosophy, religion, ect.) will determine the sexuality of the individual.

Buttonstc's avatar

Wow, that’s interesting that you believe that in the nature vs. nurture situation that it’s ALL nurture regarding sexual orientation. Do you also believe the same about gender identity as well ?

I’m referring specifically to individuals who believe that their inner gender identity is different from what would be indicated by the physical body in which they were born.

This is also presuming that their parents raised them with the appropriate expectations for that gender.

As an apparently strict behaviorist, what would the behaviorist approach be to the thorny issue of transgender individuals?

Buttonstc's avatar

Well, I guess “the behaviorist” won’t be giving any further answers as the acct. was deleted.

That was a short Fluther membership :)

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Behaviorism:

Not comfortable Fluther territory.

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miyuki19miki's avatar

my dads bi, and my moms bi. im trans and my sister is a lesbian… coincidence

Crashsequence2012's avatar

If homosexuality IS genetic then it’s something one is born into, not something one can consider an ACCOMPLISHMENT.

Therefore if you are using it to define your existence you need to be doing more with your life.

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