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The Born that Way Myth

November 5, 2011

Refuting the Distortions Promoted by the GLBTQ Activists

Distortion #1: Persons with SSA are born that way

In 1995 the Journal of Homosexuality published two double issues[1] in which a number of authors reviewed various theories suggesting a biological causation for SSA – genetic, hormonal, brain structure, sociobiological. The conclusion of the editors: “Current research into possible biological bases of sexual preference has failed to produce any conclusive evidence.”[2] The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) home page offers a number of articles which refute the latest claims for the “Born that Way” theory.[3]

Supporters of the “born-that-way” theory frequently cite a 1993 study by Dean Hamer and associates who claimed to have found a “gay gene.”[4]  However, other scientists have failed to duplicate their results.[5] And a genome wide study of 465 individuals by Mustanski and associates found no genetic basis for homosexuality.[6]

Some researchers have tried to cloud the issue by speaking about heritability – the way in which inherited traits may affect behavior. It is undeniable that inherited traits such as temperament, appearance, talents, and physical coordination do affect the way individuals interact with their environment, the way they are treated by others, and the way they respond to stress. There is no evidence that such inherited traits predestine a particular individual to SSA. Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, explained, “there is an inescapable component of heritability to many human behavioral traits. For virtually none of them is heredity ever close to predictive.”

It has been suggested that SSA is caused by hormones. Tests on adults revealed no hormonal differences.[7] A review of the literature on hormone levels in persons with SSA found no evidence of abnormalities:  “The current consensus opinion is that no causal relationship exists between adult hormonal status and sexual orientation”[8]

In 1991 Simon LeVay claimed to have found differences in brain structure of men and women with and without SSA.[9] His oft-referenced study was based on a small unrepresentative sample of men who died of AIDS. It also reveals a limited understanding of brain development. Even if differences were found that would not validate the born-that-way theory. According to Jeffrey Schwartz, author of The Mind and the Brain, “Key brain structure can change in response to your experience as an adult.”[10] Since the actions, experiences, and sexual behavior of a person with SSA may be substantially different from that of persons without homosexual experience, one would expect that differences in brain structure and response to various stimuli might be detected.

Sociobiologists have offered theories of how SSA could be genetically determined given that persons with SSA have fewer children. One theory suggests that having an uncle with SSA might increase the survival offspring of nieces and nephews. An article analyzing these theories concluded that they “were derived primarily from current stereotypes about homosexuals” and were “misconceived and without scientific merit.”[11]

Although each biological causation theory has been discredited, the media continues to announce that a biological cause for SSA has been or is just about to be discovered. For example, a study by Ivanka Savic, et al entitled “Brain responses to putative pheromones in homosexual men”[12] reported on the difference between the ways in which persons with and without SSA reacted to particular smells. The study was misreported by the Associated Press which stated that it added “weight to the idea that SSA has a physical basis and is not learned behavior.” There is nothing in the study to suggest that these differences were present at birth and not the result of experience. Dr. Savic informed the AP that their interpretation of her work was “incorrect and not stated in the paper.”[13] AP was forced to correct its report.[14]

William Byne in an article entitled “Science and belief: Psychobiological research on sexual orientation” discusses the problem of flawed research. According to the abstract, the article:

“Analyzes the assumptions and evidence that support biologically deterministic theories of sexual orientation. It is concluded that support for these theories derives as much from their appeal to prevailing cultural ideology as from their scientific merit. This appeal may explain why seriously flawed studies pass readily through the peer review process and become incorporated rapidly into the biologically deterministic canon where they remain viable even when replication attempts repeatedly fail.” [15]

Gerard van den Aardweg in an article entitled “Homosexuality and Biological Factors: Real Evidence None, Misleading Interpretations Plenty,”[16] has carefully analyzed the current claims for a biological cause and explains why each is flawed. The Whiteheads similarly have critically examined and refuted such claims and continue to evaluate each new report claiming evidence of genetic and/or biological factors associated with homosexuality.[17]

Conclusion: There is no scientific replicated evidence that SSA is genetically or hormonally predetermined or that persons with SSA were born that way.


[1] David Parker, John DeCecco, “Sexual Expression: A Global Perspective,” (in Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire, 1995, simultaneously issued as Vol. 28 Journal of Homosexuality): 427.

[2] Ibid.

[4] Dean Hamer et al., “A linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation,” Science, 261 (1993): 321 -327; Byne, “Science and belief:” 309.

[5] George Rice, et al., “Male homosexuality: Absence of linkage to microsatellite markers at Xq28,” Science, (April 1999) 665-667.

[6] B.S. Mustanski, et al.,, “A genome wide scan of male sexual orientation,” Human Genetics, 116, 4 (2005): 272-278

[7] Louis Gooren, “Biomedical concepts of Homosexuality: Folk belief in a white coat,” (in Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire, 1995) 237.

[8] H. Meyer-Bahlburg, “Psychoendrocrine research on sexual orientation: Current status and future options,” Progress in Brain Research, 61 (1984) 375-399; William Byne, B. Parsons, “Human sexual orientation: The biologic theories reappraisal,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 50 (1993): 229-239; Louis Gooren, op. cite.

[9] Simon LeVay, “A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men,” Science. 258 (1991): 1034-1037: LeVay later admitted: “It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are ‘born that way … Since I look at adult brains, we don’t know if the differences I found were there at birth or if they appeared later.” (David Nimmons, “Sex and the Brain,” Discover (March 1, 1994) 64-71).

[10] Jeffrey Schwartz, Sharon Begley, The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force, (NY: Regan Books, 2002) 252.

[11] Mildred Dickerman, “Wilson’s Panchreston: The Inclusive Fitness Hypothesis of Sociobiology Re-Examined,” (in Sex Cells and Same-Sex Desire, 1995): 147.

[12] Ivanka Savic, et al, “Brain responses to putative pheromones in homosexual men,” Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, 102, 20 (2005): 7356-7361.

[13] Robert Knight, “AP reports ‘gay brain’ study incorrectly  http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?Article_ID-50136

[14] Hilary White, “AP Issues Incomplete Correction on Lesbian Study,” LifeSiteNews.com, (May 15, 2006) http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/may/06051505.html

[15] William Byne, “Science and Belief: Psychobiological Research on Sexual Orientation.”  (in Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire, 1995) 304.

[16] Gerard van den Aardweg “Homosexuality and Biological Factors: Real Evidence none, misleading interpretations plenty,” NARTH Bulletin, http://www.narth.com/docs/aardweg.pdf.

[17] Whitehead (2010)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Gay little me permalink
    June 18, 2013 8:41 am

    Seriously… I got up one morning, and.. well, I was gay. The next day I again loved punani..

    Really, it pisses me off.. I didn’t choose to be gay, neither was I raised too, nor was there any reason to. I fought the fact of being gay, until I realized, this is what I was born into and not something I’m able to change. \

    I just wish everyone apposing would know this. Feel this..
    Think about being apposed about ‘WHO you are. Being gay is not WHAT I am, its WHO I am…

    • June 18, 2013 1:09 pm

      Dear gay little me, I believe you when you say you didn’t choose to be gay. However, there is no evidence for a genetic or biological cause for same-sex attraction (SSA). You weren’t born that way. There is substantial evidence that a vulnerability for SSA begins in early childhood – in the time before memory. Parents don’t purposefully raise their children to be gay, but may unknowingly create a family dynamic, which puts a person on that track and triggers subsequent negative experiences. It is not who you have to be.
      Unfortunately, the Churches have failed those with SSA by not devoting their energies toward praying for people with SSA and seeking to better understand the causes, means of prevention, and treatment of SSA. This has allowed people like yourself to believe they have no alternative but to accept being ‘gay.’
      I hope someday you can forgive all those who have failed you.
      Dale

  2. October 19, 2013 8:30 pm

    Dale, are you saying that paedophile parents are touching up their little kids while changing nappies, and then they stop doing it as soon as the kids are old enough to remember?

    • Mark Sutherland permalink
      July 4, 2015 9:44 pm

      Of course he’s not saying that. He’s talking about family dynamics like strong/weak father/mother/sibling figures which have an influence on what the child wishes to fulfill in themselves.

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