Health Magazine

is Homosexuality a Choice?

By Psychologicalmonroe @psychologicalmo

     Within a San Antonio Survey during the year 1999, participants were asked whether being gay was by choice or simply something that people could not change nor had control over. It was shown that the sample of participants, which were citizens of San Antonio were evenly divided on the issue, in which 47% said “no, people do not choose to be gay”, whereas 53% reported that “yes, homosexuality or any sexual orientation is by choice” (MRPI, 1999). is homosexuality a choice?
   Regardless of the views and beliefs of the lovely people from San Antonio around the year of 1999, various empirical evidence has indicated that sexual orientation maybe influenced by more factors than just personal choice. Evidently, certain types of hormones may play a large role within a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity. Firstly, what is a hormone? Most people have heard of various types of hormones such as the androgens and estrogens, which have a leading role within males and females. However, hormones are typically messengers within the body -- see your body has two main ways of transferring messages 1) neurotransmitters: a chemical substance which is a form of communication from one neuron to the next (within the nervous system); and à 2) Hormones:  also a chemical substance, but is produced by your glands, transported through your blood and controls and regulates certain aspects of your life. The best analogy I have heard is comparing neurotransmitters as a person advertising a flea market (on a very small scale, going to individual people and telling them one at a time). Whereas a hormone would be more like announcing your flea market via radio or television, a wide spread message. Essentially, it has been indicated that sex hormones, particularly testosterone, may play a key role within the dramatic sex differences between males and females (Hines, 2011).       It is important to note that the true origins of sexual orientation within human beings are far from being completely understood, however various research on animals (lab rats) or complications during a normal human pregnancy have led investigators to compose of several hypothesis on the matter. As most people know, genetic information tends to determine whether the primitive gonads (or sex organs) develop as male or female. So essentially if you have an XX baby their sex organs will typically develop into female, whereas an XY into male. It is important to note that these primitive gonads are originally identical within the XX babies, as well as the XY babies (reyes, winter, & faiman, 1973).  Once the gonad of the fetus has developed into testes or ovaries, their hormones determine the physical development as male or female. This is a process known as sexual differentiation (smail, reyes, winter, & faiman, 1981). Evidently the major hormone players would be testosterone and other testicular hormones, and according to the classical model of hormonal influences on mammalian sexual differentiation, prenatal or neonatal exposure to testicular hormones causes male-typical development, whereas female-typical development occurs in the absence of testicular hormones. Essentially this means that during the sensitive period of development of the fetus, if testicular hormones, such as testosterone are present, the fetus will develop as a male, however in the absence of these hormones, development of the fetus will be female (Goy & McEwen , Sexual differentiation of the brain , 1980). The trouble begins when these regular hormones patterns become altered in various ways that alter the overall development of the fetus. For instance, you could have a genetic male fetus (XY) however, in the absence of testicular hormones during the sensitive period of development this genetic male will develop as female (reyes, winter, & faiman, 1973).       When discussing sexual orientation, it is generally looked at as the direction of sexual interest – quite obviously a person may be sexually interested within males, females, or both sexes (Hines, 2011).  Although the main question that bewilders researchers and many struggling, confused people is typically “what determines these differences among people?” Why are some people gay, where others enjoy the company of both sexes? And in matter of fact isn’t it more logical that everyone were to be straight, I mean within evolutionary terms, this would produce more offspring. Although you also have to take note that homosexuality is observed within many non-human species and we, the humans (the smartest of the creatures on this planet) are the only ones that tend to have a problem with this. As noted before, only the tip of the iceberg has been uncovered when discussing this topic however various ideas have been formed based on relevant research. Since it would be completely cruel to just randomly conduct hormonal experiments upon pregnant women (not to mention we have this lovely groups of people who compose a research ethics board), most research comes from situations in which the hormone environments of a fetus becomes altered by natural occurring disorders. To begin the discussion of disorders of sex development (DSD), we will look at Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Typically an autosomal, recessive disorder that occurs in approximately 1 in 5000 to 1 in 15,000 births in Europe and North America (New, 1998). In my opinion, the average readers should forget the long name of this disorder and its complicated origins (which involve a mutation(s) in the CYP21a2 gene that encodes the enzyme that happens to be called 21-hydroxylase). And focus on the fact that this disorder tends to raise androgen hormone levels (testosterone) within female fetuses. And therefore girls who are born with CAH tend to be mistaken as boys. Even if the mutation is not sufficient enough to produce male-typically sex organs and the baby is born completely female, homosexuality is typically observed within these females later in life (Money & Dalery, 1976). This is just one example where hormones can dramatically influence physical appearances as well as sexual orientations within people. Within males this tends to be a little different. Research within this field have examined a disorder in which the testes produce a normal amount of male hormones, however their bodys’ do not obtain the ability to use these hormones. Essentially, creating a situation in which the hormone might as well not even be present at all. These individuals tend to be born with no sign of being male, even though they are genetically (XY) male. Furthermore, they tend to be assigned and brought up as females without any indication that they are actually male. Typically diagnosis of this disorder usually goes unnoticed until said female (male) does not start and ovulating cycle. It is important to note however that Sexual orientation within XY women tends to be no different than regular XX women and are actually more likely to be sexually interested within males (Money & Dalery, 1976). This is yet just another example on how hormones can alter physical appearances, as well as sexual preferences. There are many disorders which cause all types of complications within human sexual orientation and appearance. However it has been indicated that the line between appearance and sexual interest is drawn during the time of the disorder. For instance, if the disorder occurs after the sex organs of the fetus have grown although before the  full development of the brain then these alterations will have effects upon the brain and the baby will be born normal with just the alteration with sexual orientation (straight, gay, or bi-sexual). It is also important to note that these hormonal alterations have no effects on adult humans. If an adult male was injected with estrogen, or an adult woman was injected with testosterone, it would have no effect on their sexual interests; just merely their attitudes and they may show signs of a common symptom known as “roid rage”.    The main reason why I wanted to put this type of research out there is to let people know that it is perfectly normal to be who you are, whether that is straight, gay, bi, trans-gender, etc. These babies within the research who have been born with various physical appearances of the opposite sex (or sometimes of both sexes) are rare happenings and were merely used as examples to describe how much an effect hormones can have on people’s lives. However, this does not indicate that these people are different from any one else. You are born to be the person you will become, no matter what your sexual orientation, or gender identity may be, you are perfect.   


Goy, & McEwen . (1980). Sexual differentiation of the brain . MIT Press . Hines, M. (2011). Prenatal endocrine influences on sexual orientation and on sexually differentiated childhood behavior. Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology, 32, 170-182. Money, & Dalery. (1976). Latrogenic homosexuality: gender identity in seve 46 XX chromosome females with hyperadrenocortical hermaphroditism born with a penis, three reared as boys, four reared as girls. Journal of homosexuality , 357-371. New. (1998). Diagnosis and management of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Annual Review of Medicine, 49, 311-328. reyes, winter, & faiman. (1973). studies on human sexual development.fetal gonadal and adrenal sex steroids. journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 37, 74-78. smail, reyes, winter, & faiman. (1981). The fetal hormone environment and its effect on the morphogenesis of the genital system . S.J. Kogan, E.S.E., Hafes (Eds.), Pediatric Andrology, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 09-20.

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