- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published 12 months ago
We conducted a direct test of an immunological explanation of the finding that gay men have a greater number of older brothers than do heterosexual men. This explanation posits that some mothers develop antibodies against a Y-linked protein important in male brain development, and that this effect becomes increasingly likely with each male gestation, altering brain structures underlying sexual orientation in their later-born sons. Immune assays targeting two Y-linked proteins important in brain development-protocadherin 11 Y-linked (PCDH11Y) and neuroligin 4 Y-linked (NLGN4Y; isoforms 1 and 2)-were developed. Plasma from mothers of sons, about half of whom had a gay son, along with additional controls (women with no sons, men) was analyzed for male protein-specific antibodies. Results indicated women had significantly higher anti-NLGN4Y levels than men. In addition, after statistically controlling for number of pregnancies, mothers of gay sons, particularly those with older brothers, had significantly higher anti-NLGN4Y levels than did the control samples of women, including mothers of heterosexual sons. The results suggest an association between a maternal immune response to NLGN4Y and subsequent sexual orientation in male offspring.
Humans are unique among primates for not only engaging in same-sex sexual acts, but also forming homosexual pair bonds. To shed light on the evolutionary origins of homosexuality, data on the occurrence and contexts of same-sex behavior from nonhuman primates may be of particular significance. Homosexual behavior involving females is poorly researched in most primate taxa, exceptions being Japanese macaques, rhesus macaques, Hanuman langurs and bonobos. We present data on homosexual behavior in female mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes (Rwanda) and test four functional hypotheses, namely reconciliation, affiliation, dominance expression and sexual arousal. Homosexual interactions between females involved both ventro-dorsal and ventro-ventral copulations accompanied by vocalizations and courtship displays. The only sociosexual hypothesis that received partial empirical support is the social status hypothesis, i.e., that mounting reaffirms the dominance hierarchy. There is also some limited evidence that same-sex behavior reflects an overall state of arousal or is triggered via a ‘pornographic’ effect. An adaptive function of female homosexual behavior is not readily apparent, and we tentatively conclude (until a more rigorous test becomes available) that it may simply be related to sexual gratification or that it is an evolutionary by-product of an adaptation.
Information about the health behaviours of minority groups is essential for addressing health inequalities. We evaluated the association among lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) sexual orientation identity and smoking and alcohol use in young people in England.
Objectives. We investigated health disparities among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults aged 50 years and older. Methods. We analyzed data from the 2003-2010 Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (n = 96 992) on health outcomes, chronic conditions, access to care, behaviors, and screening by gender and sexual orientation with adjusted logistic regressions. Results. LGB older adults had higher risk of disability, poor mental health, smoking, and excessive drinking than did heterosexuals. Lesbians and bisexual women had higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and gay and bisexual men had higher risk of poor physical health and living alone than did heterosexuals. Lesbians reported a higher rate of excessive drinking than did bisexual women; bisexual men reported a higher rate of diabetes and a lower rate of being tested for HIV than did gay men. Conclusions. Tailored interventions are needed to address the health disparities and unique health needs of LGB older adults. Research across the life course is needed to better understand health disparities by sexual orientation and age, and to assess subgroup differences within these communities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print June 13, 2013: e1-e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301110).
On July 13, 2015, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the military anticipates lifting its ban on service by transgender persons, those whose gender identity does not match the sex that they were assigned at birth. Although an estimated 12,800 transgender personnel currently serve in the U.S. armed forces (see table for explanations of estimates), they must conceal their gender identity because military policy bans them from serving and prohibits military doctors from providing transition-related care. Although some transgender people do not change their bodies to match their gender identities, government agencies, courts, and scientists agree that for many, transition-related . . .
A variety of social, developmental, biological and genetic factors influence sexual orientation in males. Thus, several hypotheses have attempted to explain the sustenance of genetic factors that influence male homosexuality, despite decreased fecundity within the homosexuals. Kin selection, the existence of maternal effects and two forms of balancing selection, sexually antagonistic selection and overdominance, have been proposed as compensatory mechanisms for reduced homosexual fecundity. Here, we suggest that the empirical support for kin selection and maternal effects cannot account for the low universal frequency and stability of the distribution of homosexuals. To identify the responsible compensatory mechanism, we analyzed fecundity in 2,100 European female relatives, i.e., aunts and grandmothers, of either homosexual or heterosexual probands who were matched in terms of age, culture and sampling strategy. Female relatives were chosen to avoid the sampling bias of the fraternal birth order effect, which occurs when indirectly sampling mothers though their homosexual sons. We observed that the maternal aunts and grandmothers of homosexual probands were significantly more fecund compared with the maternal aunts and maternal grandmothers of the heterosexual probands. No difference in fecundity was observed in the paternal female lines (grandmothers or aunts) from either of the two proband groups. Moreover, due to the selective increase in maternal female fecundity, the total female fecundity was significantly higher in homosexual than heterosexual probands, thus compensating for the reduced fecundity of homosexuals. Altogether, these data support an X-linked multi-locus sexually antagonistic hypothesis rather than an autosomal multi-locus overdominance hypothesis.
Family and twin studies suggest that genes play a role in male sexual orientation. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of male sexual orientation on a primarily European ancestry sample of 1,077 homosexual men and 1,231 heterosexual men using Affymetrix single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays. We identified several SNPs with p < 10-5, including regions of multiple supporting SNPs on chromosomes 13 (minimum p = 7.5 × 10-7) and 14 (p = 4.7 × 10-7). The genes nearest to these peaks have functions plausibly relevant to the development of sexual orientation. On chromosome 13, SLITRK6 is a neurodevelopmental gene mostly expressed in the diencephalon, which contains a region previously reported as differing in size in men by sexual orientation. On chromosome 14, TSHR genetic variants in intron 1 could conceivably help explain past findings relating familial atypical thyroid function and male homosexuality. Furthermore, skewed X chromosome inactivation has been found in the thyroid condition, Graves' disease, as well as in mothers of homosexual men. On pericentromeric chromosome 8 within our previously reported linkage peak, we found support (p = 4.1 × 10-3) for a SNP association previously reported (rs77013977, p = 7.1 × 10-8), with the combined analysis yielding p = 6.7 × 10-9, i.e., a genome-wide significant association.
Prior studies have noted significant health disadvantages experienced by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) populations in the US. While several studies have identified that fears or experiences of stigma and disclosure of sexual orientation and/or gender identity to health care providers are significant barriers to health care utilization for LGBT people, these studies have concentrated almost exclusively on urban samples. Little is known about the impact of stigma specifically for rural LGBT populations, who may have less access to quality, LGBT-sensitive care than LGBT people in urban centers.
Transgender individuals have a gender identity that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The population size of transgender individuals in the United States is not well-known, in part because official records, including the US Census, do not include data on gender identity. Population surveys today more often collect transgender-inclusive gender-identity data, and secular trends in culture and the media have created a somewhat more favorable environment for transgender people.
Using a national longitudinal survey data set from the Higher Education Research Institute, this study tested whether students who identified as a sexual minority (for example, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer) were more or less likely to persist after 4 years in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as opposed to switching to a non-STEM program, compared to their heterosexual peers. A multilevel regression model controlling for various experiences and characteristics previously determined to predict retention in STEM demonstrated that, net of these variables, sexual minority students were 8% less likely to be retained in STEM compared to switching into a non-STEM program. Despite this finding, sexual minority STEM students were more likely to report participating in undergraduate research programs, and the gender disparity in STEM retention appears to be reversed for sexual minority STEM students.