"Gay Gene" Critique Links

"AI Can't Tell if You're Gay . . . But It Can Tell if You're a Walking Stereotype" by Greggor Mattson, guest post on Scatterplot: The Unruly Darlings of Public Sociology, September 9, 2017. "Wang and Kosinki (hereafter, WAK) are only the most recent example of a long history of discredited studies attempting to determine the truth of sexual orientation in the body. . . . WAK's paper and accompanying Authors' note consistently conflate cultural practices with a mythical, fixed, universal sexual orientation. Hormones may well cause morphological differences in bodies, but this is the first study to suggest that lady fauxhawks, men's sculpted eyebrows or other 'grooming styles' are related to intra-uterine experiences."

"Gay People Are Not Genetic Aberrations: If You Welcome Research That Says Being Gay Results from Genetic Inheritance, Don't Be Surprised When They Start Offering a 'Cure'" by Nick Cohen, The Guardian, February 15, 2014. "If we were more scientifically literate, we would understand that gay equality suffered a second reverse while Putin was playing his propaganda games. Dr Michael Bailey, of Northwestern University, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago that genetics is responsible for determining between 30% or 40% of a population's variation in sexual preference. That this news was not seen as grim is the result of one of the most curious intellectual somersaults of the past two decades. To generalise, the right once believed that success was down to biological inheritance. If a man became rich, it was because his superior capabilities led him to triumph in life's struggles. The left thought that if a woman stayed poor and her horizons were stunted, it was because society kept her in poverty and sexist prejudice limited her opportunities. Yet liberals welcomed the announcement by the American geneticist Dean Hamer in 1993 that genes influenced homosexuality in men, and have cheered on variations on his theme ever since. . . . I am not qualified to comment on the science. Geneticist Steve Jones is however. I found it hard to keep up as he poured out his scorn."

"Biology, My Ass" by Karla Mantilla, from the lesbian-feminist journal off our backs: a women's news journal, 1999. "Of course it's a choice—how could it not be?"

"Rejecting the Gay Brain (and Choosing Homosexuality)" by queer writer Joe Sartelle, from Bad Subjects, No. 14, May 1994. "I think that the popularity of biological accounts of homosexual desire among gay people has to be understood as a way of coping with deeply-rooted homophobia. What else can it be when we defend ourselves by saying things like, "Do you think anybody would choose to be this way?" This is a defensive position, one that implicitly accepts that there is something wrong with homosexuality, that it is indeed an abnormality which demands to be explained."

"No Easy Link Between Genes, Behavior: DNA Studies Dash Quest for Easy Answers. Genome's Link to Behavior Hard to Prove" by Keay Davidson, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb 13, 2001. More than 90% of the human genome has been sequenced by the International Human Genome Project, yet no "gay gene" has been found. Why might that be?

"In Search of the 'Gay Gene'" by Jack Lucentini, The Washington Post, p. A15, February 19, 2001. Here's a pro-"gay gene" article with a twist: it argues that the "gay gene" (or rather, the biological capacity for same-sex attraction) exists in most or all human beings instead of just the minority who consider themselves "gay."

"Sexual Orientation: Binaries and Definition Problems" by Pierre Tremblay and Richard Ramsay, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, from their collaborative work The Social Construction of Male Homosexuality and Related Suicide Problems: Research Proposals for the Twenty-First Century, 2000.

"How Do You Define 'Sexual Orientation'?" by Randall L. Sell, excerpted from his article "Defining and Measuring Sexual Orientation: A Review," Archives of Sexual Behavior,Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 643-658, December 1997.

"Exploding the Gene Myth: A Conversation with Ruth Hubbard" by Frank Aqueno of QueerByChoice, 1997. Ruth Hubbard of the Council for Responsible Genetics discusses the "gay gene" theory with Frank Aqueno of QueerByChoice and John Lawson of Tulane University, 1997.

The Science Section of Frank Aqueno's Queer by Choice website.

"Do Genes Determine Whether We Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Straight?"
This is a great essay from the Council for Responsible Genetics—a nonprofit organization that critiques the ethics of all kinds of genetic research, from cloning to cancer research to the search for a "gay gene." These people definitely know their biology, and their essay provides a reasonably thorough explanation of some of the things that are wrong with the claims that people can be born with a genetic tendency to develop any particular sexual orientation.

"History of Sexual Orientation Research" from the Robert Koch Institut in Berlin, Germany

"Genetics and Homosexuality" from The Gene Letter by GeneSage, November 1, 1996. "No conclusions can be drawn from studies relating genetics to sexual orientation, according to an October 30, 1996 panel at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) annual meetings in San Francisco. Geneticist Neil Risch (Co-chair of the panel, with Frank Greenberg) warned against 'genetic determinism' on the basis of today's fragmentary and sometimes contradictory findings."

"The Biological Evidence Challenged" by William Byne, from Scientific American, Vol. 270, pp. 50-55, May 1994

"The Ethics of Genetic Research on Sexual Orientation" by Udo Schüklenk, Edward Stein, Jacinta Kerin, and William Byne, from Hastings Center Report, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 6-13, 1997

Book review of Edward Stein's The Mismeasure of Desire: The Science, Theory, and Ethics of Sexual Orientation, 1999, by andrea l.t. peterson, from Outlines, The Voice of Chicago's Gay and Lesbian Community, November 17, 1999

"Science Tries to Find Deviancy in Our Faces, Ears and Genes" by Jeff Grabmeier, Ohio State University. A review of the book Deviant Bodies: Critical Perspectives on Difference in Science and Popular Culture, edited by Jennifer Terry and Jacqueline Urla, 1996.

The Medicalization of Homosexuality—a quick definition by Andrew Wikholm of gayhistory.com

"Sexing the Body: How Biologists Construct Human Sexuality" by Anne Fausto-Sterling, 1999

The following three articles provide three different critiques of Simon LeVay's 1991 "gay brain" study.

The following three articles explore three very different angles for critiquing Dean Hamer's 1993 "gay gene" study, which was investigated by the U.S. Office of Research Integrity for possible falsification of data. The outcome of that investigation is unclear, but an assistant who worked with Dean Hamer on the study has accused Hamer of falsifying data, and an initial investigation by the National Institutes of Health found the evidence against Hamer substantial enough that they referred it to the highest federal investigative level.

A more recent "gay gene" study, published in April 1999 by Canadian researchers George Ebers and George Rice, attempted to duplicate Dean Hamer's results and failed. The six articles below provide some details on the Ebers and Rice study.

"A Fan Writes: '...[T]here is no gay gene!...'" by Deborah Levinson, July 19, 1999. Responds to a homophobe's assertion that "there is no gay gene!!!!!!!!!!!!!" by saying simply, "Hello! Wake up! We don't care whether there is a gay gene. We don't care whether there are special lesbian ears. We don't care about anything beyond doing all that we can do to ensure equal treatment and rights in all aspects of life."

"Do You Take This Woman . . . : Electing Sex in the New Millennium" by Fabulana, from Wench, 1999. "Rather than seeing science as the Messiah for gay rights, casting light into the darkness and dispersing ignorance, wouldn’t it be prudent to remember that it was science that, until rather recently, classified homosexuality as a 'mental illness'?"

"Does a Short Index Finger Make You Gay?" by Timothy Noah, from MSN Chatterbox, March 30, 2000. "Chatterbox's Law of Biological Determinism: Conservatives believe that genes determine everything except homosexuality; liberals believe that genes determine nothing except homosexuality."

"Does Being a Jock Make a Man Gay?" by Timothy Noah, from MSN Chatterbox, March 1, 2001. One year after the article above, Chatterbox comments on a more recent study which found that longer index fingers correlate with greater athletic ability. Perhaps hanging out in locker rooms with a lot of mostly-naked members of the same sex tends to turn members of both genders queer? What a revelation!

"Lesbian Fingers: Discrimination Against Us Is Underlined in the Indelible Ink of Science" by Laurie Essig, from Salon.com, Oct. 16, 2000. "[T]he study believes that lesbians' mannish brains will naturally desire their opposite, which is to say, female bodies. Clearly a mannish brain could not be attracted to a mannish body any more than a girlish brain could be attracted to a girlish body because such attraction would be, oh lordy, same-sex attraction."

"Finding Cause for Homosexuality Not as Important as Learning to Accept It"by Kevyn Jacobs, from Kansas State Collegian, April 3, 1995. "In the end, I suspect that objective studies of homosexuality will not be fully possible until the ideological war is over. Until then, skepticism is the name of the game. All research is suspect."

"Will a Gay Gene Get Us Anywhere?" by Nicholas Yee. "Even if a gay gene were found, this would not grant homosexuality moral or social acceptability because it could still be regarded as a defect or an abnormality. . . . Racism has not diminished because we know that blackness or whiteness is genetic. Sexism exists even though we know that sex is genetic. Since finding a gay gene will neither make homosexuality morally or socially acceptable nor will it diminish homophobia, it is clearly the wrong place to be looking."

"My Ears!?" by Deborah Levinson, March 1998. "Personally, I think it's all absurd. I don't care whether there is a 'gay gene,' I don't care whether my inner ear is different. I don't believe that any of this matters in the ultimate scheme of things. What does matter is that I am who I am—and I am entitled to the same rights and privileges as everybody else."

"UC Berkeley Psychologist Finds Concrete Evidence in Rats that Sexual Experience Alters the Nervous System" by Pat McBroom, U.C. Berkeley press release, October 20, 1997.

"Are People 'Born Gay?'" by Steve C. & Rob G., 2005. A thorough analysis of the many flaws in the biological research through 2005. Shame about the writers being so pathetically heterosexist. *sigh* But really, they do provide a lot of scientific information.

Virtual City/Youth Suicide: Directory of Queer Biology Links

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