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No smoking gun

beach-eternity

A study published earlier this month posited that genetic markers called “epi-marks” can affect the impact of androgen during fetal development, resulting in some individuals developing as homosexuals. The study was initiated for the purpose of identifying a genetic explanation for homosexuality from an evolutionary biology perspective.

While the research is revealing, it does not contain proof of one indisputable factor responsible for the existence of the “non-reproductively successful” homosexual human. One flaw made clear in the article on the study, “Study Finds Epigenetics, Not Genetics, Underlies Homosexuality” is that it appears to conflate gender identity with sexual orientation, a misguided explanation of same-sex attraction. From the article:

“Different epi-marks protect different sex-specific traits from being masculinized or feminized – some affect the genitals, others sexual identity, and yet others affect sexual partner preference. However, when these epi-marks are transmitted across generations from fathers to daughters or mothers to sons, they may cause reversed effects, such as the feminization of some traits in sons, such as sexual preference, and similarly a partial masculinization of daughters.”

(emphasis added)

This appears to be a simplistic explanation as viewed through the reductive lens of evolutionary biology. Clearly a homosexual man is not sexually attracted to other men because he has the sexual characteristics of a woman. This is a very common assumption, but it requires acceptance of an overly stringent binary understanding of gender and sexuality, one that comes from the sociological imposition of a heteronormative construct on human sexual relationships.

While it is certainly useful to identify the ways that genetic factors affect the sexual development of humans, it seems unlikely that it is possible to define human sexuality exclusively within the context of evolutionary biology.

For additional perspective on the study, read “Is epigenetics totally gay?” on the Nothing in Biology Makes Sense blog.

Posted in Socio-politics.


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