Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sexual orientation and gender conforming traits in women are genetic, study finds

Date:
July 9, 2011
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
Sexual orientation and 'gender conformity' in women are both genetic traits, according to a new study. Researchers report that a shared set of genes and shared set of random environmental factors are partially responsible both for gender nonconformity and female sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation and 'gender conformity' in women are both genetic traits, according to new research from Queen Mary, University of London.

It is well recognised that there consistent differences in the psychological characteristics of boys and girls; for example, boys engage in more 'rough and tumble' play than girls do.

Studies also show that children who become gay or lesbian adults differ in such traits from those who become heterosexual -- so-called gender nonconformity. Research which follows these children to adulthood shows that between 50 to 80 per cent of gender nonconforming boys become gay, and about one third of such girls become lesbian.

Writing in the online journal PLoS ONE, Dr Andrea Burri and Dr Qazi Rahman from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences report that a shared set of genes and shared set of random environmental factors is partially responsible both for gender nonconformity and female sexual orientation.

The team followed a group of 4,000 British women who were one of a pair of twins. They were asked questions about their sexual attractions and behaviour, and a series of follow up questions about their gender nonconformity. In line with previous research, the team found modest genetic influences on sexual orientation (25 per cent) and childhood gender nonconformity (31 per cent).

Dr Qazi Rahman, co-author of the study, explains: "We found that there is a connection between these mental traits and how sexual orientation develops. One idea is that there is an association between these psychological traits and sexual orientation because they all develop under common biological drivers; like the development of brain regions under the influence of genes and sex hormones."

Dr Rahman adds: "We think environmental factors and genetics drive other mechanisms, like exposure to sex hormones in the womb, to shape differences in gender nonconformity and sexuality simultaneously."

Dr Rahman is mindful that the results may carry the risk of stereotyping, adding: "Stereotypes like 'sissy' or 'mannish' have not been helpful in promoting respect for gay people, and those who don't match those stereotypes may find it hard to accept they are gay or lesbian."

But he believes the team's findings are increasingly important to researchers concerned with the mental health of sexual minorities. Dr Rahman concludes: "We know that gay people who are strongly gender nonconforming report more anxiety and depression symptoms.

"Poor mental health in gay populations is partly due to societal stigma and victimisation. Our results suggest that being gender nonconforming and lesbian comes from 'within'; there is little you can do about it. So gender nonconformity does not cause mental health problems, but it may trigger negative reactions from other people (like parents and peers), leading to mental health problems."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrea Burri, Lynn Cherkas, Timothy Spector, Qazi Rahman. Genetic and Environmental Influences on Female Sexual Orientation, Childhood Gender Typicality and Adult Gender Identity. PLoS ONE, 2011; 6 (7): e21982 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021982

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Sexual orientation and gender conforming traits in women are genetic, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707173319.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2011, July 9). Sexual orientation and gender conforming traits in women are genetic, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707173319.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Sexual orientation and gender conforming traits in women are genetic, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110707173319.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins