The Myth of the Gay Gene

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    • Andrei on January 4, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Another recent study published in PNAS (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/12/05/1705895114.full) that hypothesizes a link between maternal immune response to male child’s Y-linked proteins during early development and resulting homosexuality.

    Of note, the study is limited (160 participants) and fails to prove any causal link between the Y-linked protein in question to the male child’s sexual orientation and development. A theoretical association might have been made, but it has nothing to do with causality or helping us infer any such relationship.

    This is yet another attempt by activists within mainstream science to promote a biological basis to sexual orientation while ignoring far more potent environmental determinants or pressures.

  1. The PNAS article is interesting but, in my opinion, there was too much emphasis put on the evidence for a “maternal immune response” and too little on what is exactly the interference between the mother’s antibodies with the NLGN4Y of the fetus (which has been mostly associated with autism) and why would it lead to homosexuality. Another question is, why there is no study attempting to find a biological basis for gay behavior in lesbian women? The size of the group studied is also problematic, but perhaps these kind of studies depend on the level of financing received from sponsors. And what if a study on much more families than 160, with many boys, would show no homosexual behavior? Would it matter? And why only “some” women have this immune response? Indeed, as it is often mentioned in sciences, “correlation does not mean causation”. And, by-the-way, I have not searched for the sexual attraction of the researchers themselves…

  2. Andrei,

    Why would a woman manifest an immunologic adverse reaction towards the male gene NLGN4Y, when an almost identical gene NLGN4X exists in the woman’s X chromosome?

    • Andrei on January 5, 2018 at 10:54 am

    As you mentioned, the publication is light on actual evidence to firmly establish ANY link or association between the woman’s immune response to the NLGN4Y protein and how exactly the brain development of the fetus is affected.

    An association is merely suggested, but the data to demonstrate this is truly absent.

    All of your questions above are obvious to even a casual reader, and yet nothing addressing them is even remotely mentioned in the article. The level of bias is glaring.

    The lead author is a Canadian psychologist “specializing” in human sexuality. To me, the entire premise and methodology of the study is compromised and misleading. They compare decades-old remnants of this antibody from when these women were last pregnant to the now-adult male offspring, but they obtain no objective or empirical sample from these males other than their stated sexual orientation. So much has happened in these men’s lives since they were born to when they became gay, yet nothing is even looked at.

    I only mentioned the article to point out that these types of studies pop up every now and then, trying to (mis)use the tools of science in support of unfounded claims and hoping to add to the body of work discussing these possible associations. The point is to create headlines and to make it seem that there is growing evidence for these associations when each study actually fails to prove any such thing. Moreover, no follow-up or subsequent study is yet published which has produced similar results.

    With regard to your specific question above: the immune system varies within each person, male or female. The antibodies produced in response therefore vary in intensity, volume, timing, etc. It is entirely possible that a woman’s immune response to the Y-linked protein would be similar as to the X-linked variant. However, the researchers did not propose to study this variant, only the male variant (maybe they will repeat the study on the X-linked variant and lesbian women, who knows?).

    What’s interesting is that some women had high traces of this antibody even though they had never given birth to a male. The researchers couldn’t explain why this would occur. So it’s entirely possible this immune reaction may have nothing to do with pregnancy or the offspring, rather it might be one of a million immune responses that women experience in the course of a lifetime. Maybe it’s an antibody they produce in response to gene(s) found in their own genome, since the X-linked variant of this protein is much the same as the Y-variant and therefore the antibody produced would also be similar.

    These and many other questions should be explored, but it would not serve the purpose of establishing an aura (and blessing) of science for a biological basis to homosexuality.

  3. Se pare ca nu exista intr-adevar o gena a homosexualitatii, desi statisticile efectuate pe gemeni monozigoti arata si o oarecare predispozitie genetica, dar nu stim cat e de pronuntata. Se pare ca nu e asa de pronuntata pe cat s-a considerat. Se pare insa ca exista influente hormonale care actioneaza in perioada intrauterina si care determina intr-o masura mai mare orientarea sexuala. Din cate stiu, anumite experiente efectuate pe animale de laborator au aratat ca o expunere mai mare la hormoni sexuali ai sexului opus fata de doza normala duce la o probabilitate mult mai mare ca viitorul adult sa aiba inclinatii homosexuale. De altfel , chiar marturiile multor homosexuali, unii dintre ei crestini care s-au luptat cu propria lor inclinatie, arata ca ei au simtit aceste tendinte inca din copilarie sau adolescenta si apoi s-au chinuit cu asta toata viata. Ceea ce arata ca nu este totusi o alegere, ci depinde mai degraba de influente hormonale si eventual traume din copilarie.

  4. AV,

    Desigur ca nimeni nu susține că nu există “influențe hormonale”, mai bine zis “deficiențe hormonale” și, mai ales, o paletă largă de factori epigenetici care au un efect in ce privește sexualitatea. Scopul discuției a fost ca, subliniind pe de o parte lipsa unei baze genetice definitorie, să sugereze că părinții au rolul de a supraveghea dezvoltarea copilului și de a consulta atât endocrinologul cât și psihologul atunci când se suspectează o dezvoltare “atipică” a copilului.

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