Study: Sexual identity hard-wired by genetics

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by vniow, Oct 20, 2003.

  1. vniow macrumors G4

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    #1
    http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/10/20/sexuality.brain.reut/index.html
     
  2. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    #2
    Excellent news, reaffirms what we've been saying for years. Thank you vniow.

    They had better get testing down to a very exact science before they go back to assigning gender identity at birth to the intersexed. we've seen how well that worked the first time we "knew what we were doing"... for those of you that don't know what i'm talking about, research the john/joan case.

    it's exciting for the transgendered, as they go largely ignored in society... but still denied a lot of rights.

    i wonder if they'll discover that gays and lesbians are simply fully-intersexed from conception? A strange theory but one often shared.

    The christian right will step up their attacks on gays' and lesbians' rights accordingly, they hate science. sigh.

    still...
    :D
    pnw
     
  3. Dros macrumors 6502

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    #3
    It is interesting news. I wonder why it was published in a lowly journal like Molecular Brain Research instead of something like Science or Nature? Time will tell how the results stand up or what role the different genes have.
     
  4. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

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    #4
    The bleeding-edge discoveries are published in more specialized journals before they make it to the more mainstream ones.
     
  5. Dros macrumors 6502

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    #5
    I'm not so sure in this case. The techniques used here - microarrays and PCR, are standard approaches to finding differences in gene expression, but are notorious for producing artifactual results. The only interesting aspect of this is that it has to do with sexuality. Journals such as Nature and Science lap this up because they know it is of broad interest... in fact, Nature highlighted one of the first reports like this a decade ago:
    Is homosexuality hard-wired?
    John Maddox
    SUMMARY: A suggestion, based on measurements of post-mortem brains, that structures in the hypothalamus correlate with sexual behaviour, should be taken seriously. But the meaning is...
    CONTEXT: ...may even be congenital. If that proves indeed to be the case, the tenor of much public argument about the morality of homosexuality would be transformed - or should be. Could Christians, for example, continue to define homosexual......
    Nature353, 13 (05 Sep 1991) News and Views

    So my first thought is that it got stuck in a third-rate journal because it wasn't very rigorous in its approach. But even if it is 90% wrong, then there would still be a dozen genes different between male and female brains before hormone exposure.
     
  6. uhlawboi80 macrumors 6502

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    #6
    this is an intersting paper to read (if you have the technical background to follow it) but it tells us the same thing that anatomical studies did a while back...that in some ways a gay mans brain is similar to a womens. Though i'd like to point out that this talks about sexual identity, not sexual preference, i.e. how you view your OWN sex, not who you are sexually attracted to. Gay men like men, and most will tell you that they do NOT think they are women or feel like a woman etc.

    oh, and dont rag on the small journals, they are great! they are mainly there for researchers anyway. Science and Nature papers are usually dumbed down a bit anyway because they are widely read, where as a more specific journal leaves in the details that people in the feild understand and want.
     
  7. Durandal7 macrumors 68040

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    #7
    This had always seemed to be common sense to me. I was unaware that there were groups trying to deny this :rolleyes:
     
  8. Dros macrumors 6502

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    #8
    The difference with this study is that they are looking at brains before the sex hormones can act. The previous studies looked at adult brains. So there are fundamental differences that don't depend on your gonads.

    As for small journals, sure, some are reputable. Many are "dumping grounds" for half stories or theories unsupported by the evidence given.
     
  9. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

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    #9
    Small journals are the bleeding edge and are generally read only inside the community. Nothin wrong with that.
     
  10. MacRumorSkeptic macrumors regular

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    #10
    If we are ever able to conclusively discover that homosexuality is genetic, and are able to detect it before birth, you will see the largest shift in the gay community from being Pro Abortion Rights to Pro Life.
     
  11. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

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    #11
    Yeah, I read about this on the gay pro-life web site. Yes, there is actually such a thing.
     
  12. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    #12
    one of my biggest fears is the genetic selection of gays and lesbians. for the record a lot of gay people are spiritual and do not agree with abortion, we just realize that since it's a spiritual issue, it should stay separate from political... the pro-choice often feel the same way about gays. that's why gay rights and abortion are always lumped together.

    however when genetic selection becomes an issue, which is not far, we have a lot of other things to worry about besides parents aborting gay children. it'll be chaos.

    true this study does not offer nicely packaged hard proof. but combine it with a number of other studies, including those finding physical differences in the inner-ear structure of lesbian women versus straight women, and the physiological evidence mentioned above about gay men and women's brains... they add up to a compelling case that gays should at least be granted basic rights (protection and marriage) until it can be proven for once and for good. our country's darkest times in history occurred when we didn't give groups like this the benefit of the doubt-- slavery, women's oppression, etc...

    </rant>
    pnw
     
  13. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

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    #13
    Could you explain that one to me? I've seen it before but it seems inconsistent.

    The pro-life position is: the unborn are actual human beings, therefore, killing them is murder, therefore, abortion is murder. If you believe that, yet don't think that should be a political issue, aren't you sanctioning a form of legalized murder? I don't want to argue one side or the other on the issue of abortion in general, I just want to figure out how people get away with the "pro-life but don't think the government should be involved" point of view. It seems internally inconsistent, unless you're an anarchist.

    (I am an antichrist! I am an anarchist! Don't know what I want but I know how to get it, I want to destroy the passer-by, cause I wanna be anarchy!)
     
  14. Dros macrumors 6502

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    #14
    But this article is not something that would be read just inside a small community because of the nature of the subject. Small journals may publish "the bleeding edge". They also publish junk. Papers that were rejected at top journals for not supporting the interpretation get sent to niche journals all the time. It doesn't mean they are wrong. They could be wrong. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Anything to do with a controversial area like human sexuality is going to need to go to great lengths to back up what it is proposing. I think this article didn't do that. It doesn't mean that it is wrong. But I'd be cautious before adding it to evidence (which as has been pointed out, is generally very strong from other studies.)
     
  15. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

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    #15
    Part of being at the bleeding edge is that there is a lot of crap out there. Human knowledge does not progress easily without controversy and uncertainty. Often when a conclusion is revolutionary enough, it has to wait a generation before it's accepted.
     
  16. Dros macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Ahh, I thought that when I said "wonder why it is a lowly journal, maybe not good science" and you said, "bleeding edge stuff comes out in small journals, nothing wrong with that", you were arguing that it isn't in a lowly journal because it may be junk, but because it is controversial. Guess I was clarifying myself for no reason. Sorry!
     
  17. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

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    #17
    It's fine, I still got a better idea of what you meant when you clarified it.
     
  18. voicegy macrumors 65816

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    #18
    And in that dim future of genetic research gone mainstream, we'll not only be able to choose to have a boy or a girl...the choice of "insuring" a heterosexual child may very well also be on the list.

    Such choice reserved only for those who can afford the "luxury", of course.

    That's the fear I've always had regarding deeper and deeper research into this field. I realize that this latest "finding" speaks to "identity", but how long before actual "orientation" is discovered as a hard wired element in human sexuality? (which I personally believe it is...hard wired, that is)

    As science moves closer to discoveries that put to rest long held ignorant beliefs, society and politics may change to embrace homosexual rights and may put an end to denial of such rights and the quiet persecution that still exists. The flip side is darker, however, given what I've outlined above.

    All in all, a fascinating find, to be sure. But where are we headed with such research? Freedom...or Oppression...as we begin to realize, as a culture, that we may one day be able to "design" our offspring?

    I remain cautiously optimistic...
     
  19. Dros macrumors 6502

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    #19
    The study raises lots of interesting possibilities. They are saying your brain cells know their sexual identity (perhaps just if have X chromosome or not), and then the brain is further organized by the sex hormones in a way that is different between males and females.

    They bring up transgendered people as a situation where perhaps those first sexual signals are not received. Then, despite the influence of sex hormones later, the brain takes on a characteristic opposite of the "hormone sex". This suggests this early signal is more influential in creating gender.

    But people lacking the ability to respond to masculinizing hormone signals and are considered female do not usually desire to become transgendered, suggesting that the hormone state is more dominant.

    Transgendering and homosexuality are not always linked, so how does this innate signal link to sexual orientation? A partial reception of the genetic signal. Some of the genes turned on but not others? I guess mice fail as models for these more socially interesting questions.
     
  20. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    #20
    I'm about a step away from anarchist, actually, I'm a strict libertarian. I can't speak for everyone, but my personal belief is that science leans more towards the fetus being a lump of replicating cells until a certain point, and a lot of people (myself included) do not like abortion even during this "nothing's developed" stage... but on this issue, spirituality is definitely the guiding factor, as you are left to decide whether you believe the soul is attached at conception, or that it enters the fetus sometime in the womb, or that it has a soul at birth... or that life possesses no soul... Even if you believe it's murder, you can't sit there and say that science alone backs that view up, prior to a certain developmental stage at least.

    fact is, if there was a way to know for sure when the appropriate cutoff was, between lump and life, we would have no abortion debate. it's a matter of pure spiritual belief, and i, for one, am not so sure of my spiritual beliefs (daoist) that i am willing to inflict them on others... even if that means letting people do what i would personally consider a mistake.

    i don't understand why more straight people don't see gay rights in the same fashion. science and religion conflict, and they want to enforce laws that inflict this particular tenet on people who do not share in it's belief. they claim a "moral majority" so they can make the rules. it must feel the same for a pro-choice person, unable (for a long time, and continually) to break away from others' religious views to have personal freedom... again, i'm not willing to take the chance. it's why i'll never vote pro-life, unless science proves them right.

    pnw
     
  21. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

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    #21
    Oh, so your belief is a matter of personal religious belief as opposed to scientific? I'm libertarian too, but I think that we can agree that if it can be objectively shown that the unborn are human beings, it's justified to use the government to protect them.

    To that end... www.l4l.org
     
  22. Dros macrumors 6502

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    #22
    That made it sound so simple. Essentially the web site says, it is a scientific fact that a new human organism is formed at conception, so the fetus deserves all the rights of a human, case closed!

    If a single cell with genetic information from both parents is a new human being, then what about a cell from your toe? The difference is potential to form a human being, I would say. Then how about modern cloning, nuclear transfer, etc. These create new organisms from single cells, so every cell in our body has the potential to form a human being. I'd say the issue is far from being objectively or scientifically solved at all.

    To get back to the original topic... the paper didn't link the sexual identity of the brain with orientation, so these genes being expressed haven't been shown to be markers for anything. So testing for orientation isn't on the near horizon. They may find that distinguishing gene expression patterns for behavior don't emerge until the brain is capable of producing such behaviors.
     
  23. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

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    #23
    You really didn't bother to read the articles, did you?
     
  24. Dros macrumors 6502

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    #24
    Well, I guess I was thinking of this part (that I read):

    To arrive at the correct marker, we need the correct scientific facts of human embryology. That a new human organism, a member of the species Homo sapiens, begins at fertilization is well recognized. (See: Dianne N. Irving, "When Do Human Beings Begin?: `Scientific' Myths and Scientific Facts" -- www.L4L.org/library/mythfact.html.)

    and from another article:
    "Day One in a human being's life occurs at fertilization — that is high school biology."

    I brought up potential because of this quote from one of the articles that I read <- note, I read the article!
    "There is a sharp distinction between before and after conception. A gamete, a sperm or an ovum, is a radically different kind of thing from the zygote that results when the sperm penetrates the ovum. By itself, no sperm or ovum has the power to mature into an adult. Gametes that do not unite end up as dead gametes. Those that do unite cease to exist; what exists then is a radically different kind of entity."

    And the concept of potential for reason as a marker for personhood:
    "Capacity can refer to a being's natural, underlying power to actualize reason and choice. When a talent is undeveloped, it is still an actual talent. More strongly, even when one's capacity for reason and choice is undeveloped, one still has an actual capacity, an actual power. Human beings begin life with the capacity to actualize reason and choice; this capacity is in our genes. To kill human beings early in life is to destroy their capacity for reason and choice as well as their lives."

    And then I brought up ways that current technologies can make the concept of potential a difficult marker fior personhood. It sounds like you weren't convinced by any of the examples.

    You must have assumed I did no reading because I did not immediately agree with it. I read it and disagree. You may find others like that, so probably accusing people of not reading isn't going to win you many arguments. I found the articles to be smug with the constant references to "high school" biology and "simple facts", and not very persuasive.
     
  25. Phil Of Mac macrumors 68020

    Phil Of Mac

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    #25
    The arguments are based on a few underlying premises that people outside the libertarian community don't necessarily accept, which is why my message was directed to paulwhannel instead of you. I also did not want to start an argument over this tangental topic.
     

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