is there a gay gene?

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When I first realized that I loved men and women, I remember scouring the internet to find out what it all meant. Was i ill? Were my feelings normal? I remember taking a questionnaire to help me find the answer to all of these questions. Alas, I never found one. To this day, I still find it difficult to define my sexuality. A small part of this has been the debate between nature and education – are people born gay or are they picked up growing up? Although I have absolutely no scientific background except for two A’s in GCSE science, I firmly believe that people are born as they are; love cannot be learned (romantic as it sounds!) despite my own beliefs, I will review some recent and past studies on this topic to hopefully shed some light on this issue.

While the search for greater acceptance of the LGBTQ + community has occurred more recently in our history, the majority of research regarding the debate over the nature or education of homosexuality has taken place in the late 20th century. century. As reported in science, one such 1993 study used genetic analysis of 40 pairs of homosexual brothers to find an area on the X chromosone that could contain one or more genes for homosexuality. Dean Halmer, and the rest of his team, did research specifically on male homosexuality. They recruited 76 men and compared their genes with their family’s history of homosexuality. Interestingly, when researchers took a closer look at men’s family trees, they found that there were more gay parents on the maternal side of the family, and homosexuality was more common among maternal uncles and cousins. On the maternal side. This could suggest that you are gay because of your mother’s family side, which could mean that the “gay gene” is on the X chromosone, which is inherited exclusively from your mother.

To further this study, the researchers performed a gene linkage analysis on the 40 pairs of brothers. They did this because on average each pair of brothers will have about half of their DNA on their X chromosomes in common. If the men are homosexual because of a gene inherited from the mother, then it must reside in the shared sections of the chromosome that this type of analysis can find. If a shared section is found then it might contain the “gay” gene. When the researchers did this, they found that 33 out of 40 pairs shared a set of five markers located in the X chromosome – the shared areas that may contain the gene behind homosexuality. The researchers said it is unlikely that this was simply due to chance and that the link has a technical measure of 99.5% certainty that there is one or more genes in this area that predispose a man to be gay. . Hamer said that cannot explain all of the homosexuality, however, as he saw certain traits that were passed down from fatherly and some brothers did not share the set of genes on their X chromosome. Therefore, he concluded that homosexuality appears to have a “variety of causes, genetic and perhaps also environmental”.

A study similar to Hamer’s, by Michael Bailey of Northwestern University, had similar results with the comparative study of the brothers. He found that half of identical twins of gay men were also gay themselves, which could further suggest that homosexuality is encoded in family genetics, not environmental factors.

However, these studies have their weaknesses, such as the small sample sizes, and the fact that they are almost 30 years old now. Moreover, their approach to this question appears to be marred by homophobic nuances, with the article in question comparing the study of genetic disorders to the genetic makeup of sexuality.

Despite their age and potentially damaging implications, these studies are supported by more recent research. Again, as published in Science, Andrea Ganna, a researcher at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Harvard Medical School in Boston, examined hundreds of thousands of DNA samples and behavioral information. Their study analyzed the DNA markers of those who answered “yes” to the question “have you ever had sex with a person of the same sex?” Overall, 450,939 people reported that their sex had been heterosexual only and 26,890 people reported at least one homosexual experience.

After obtaining this information, the researchers performed a genome-wide association study to look for specific variations in DNA that were common in those who answered “yes” to the previous question. They found four variants on chromosomes 7, 11, 12 and 15. Interestingly, a variant on chromosome 11 is found in a region rich in receptors that register smell, which Ganna says may play a role in sexual attraction. This study was more thoughtful than Hamers’s, as the team behind it met and consulted regularly with members of the LGBTQ + community. Despite this, there are still fears that such studies of homosexuality could lead to further stigma against homosexuality, with Nicole Ferraro and Kameron Rodrigues of Stanford University arguing that “the study did not do enough. to explore the nuances of how gender identity differs from sexual behavior ”.

Overall, Ganna’s findings underscore the fact that human sexual behavior is a complex problem that cannot be attributed to a single “gay gene”. Instead, Ganna argues that “‘non-heterosexuality” is in part influenced by many small genetic effects.

From the small number of studies I’ve explored here, I think it’s safe to say that no one knows where homosexuality comes from – maybe that’s a good thing. Starting to disseminate and reduce LGBTQ + individuals to genes and chromosomes leads to further alienating us from the rest of humanity. What these studies show is that even the smartest of us conclude that there is not one thing that makes up a person – we are all made up of millions of different parts. So whether being gay is natural or natural, some things will always be the same. Homosexuals exist and cannot be reduced to their sexuality.


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