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Old 12-12-2012, 09:51 AM   #1
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Default Epigenetics underlies homosexuality??

A paper published in The Quarterly Review of Biology suggests that homosexuality is inherited from one's opposite-gender parent: A lesbian will almost always get the trait from her father, while a gay man will get the trait from his mother. They qualify, though, that it's not a strictly genetic link. See the press release. Does that make sense?

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Old 12-12-2012, 11:40 AM   #2
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If I'm reading that summary correctly--and I may not be--what they are saying is that normally we receive 'gender-correct' epigenitic settings, so that during fetal development we only respond to hormonal triggers that we are supposed to for our gender. Hence, girls can get subject to surges in testosterone but mostly 'ignore' them and not develop characteristically male tendencies.

What they are suggesting happens in homosexuality is that sometimes we end up getting some of those epigenetic switches from the opposite sex parent instead of the same sex parent. In that case girls will respond to testosterone and boys to (whichever hormones it is....wasn't mentioned in the summary and I think there are more than one?). Depending when during development those surges occur they could end getting off-gender physical traits, mental/emotional traits, or sexuality.

It would map the general feeling of people that they were 'born this way' along with the observation that this does not generally run in families.

Now, I could be reading it wrong, but that is what I got from it.
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:23 AM   #3
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That's the way I read it. I hope folks with real-life experience will provide their commentary. I forgot that topics need brief, catchy titles to get a response.
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Old 12-13-2012, 12:16 PM   #4
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That is pretty interesting.
Considering I'm the only known person in my blood family to be bisexual and somewhere along the trans scale, this makes sense. Having it be linked to hormonal influences before birth, rather than a genetic predisposition of some kind, makes a lot of sense. And as Tad said, goes to show that people really are "born this way."

Pretty cool to me!
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:04 PM   #5
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I've found a few major issues with this study:

1. Heavy reliance on modelling, which does not often properly represent epigenetic marks (which are dynamic, and can fluctuate over minutes, hours, etc).
2. Assumption that epigenetic factors operate completely independently from genetic factors (I can personally attest that they do not).
3. Labelling these epigenetic marks as transgenerational without sufficient evidence. Transgenerational marks are rare and, as previous studies have shown, they fade with time and do not remain intact.
4. They refer to epigenetic patterns in genomic regions with undefined or unverified function, and determine that they are meaningful findings.

Also, by making the VERY BOLD statement that sexuality is completely determined by epigenetic factors, they are leaving the door wide open for religious scientists to suggest that we can "cure" homosexuality with demethylating drugs (the kind employed in cancer chemotherapy) - I strongly dislike that idea.

It's difficult to fully comment on the research methodology, as the full paper will not be released until next week, but it should be noted that it is being published in a low impact factor journal (IF=7.73, which is low for something with such a shocking title). Personally, all of my own research (lab and literature) has suggested that complex traits such as sexual orientation, psychiatric disease, IQ, etc result from a combination of genetic, epigenetic and environmental (which may often shape epigenetics) origins, and that the actual profiles can be highly unique for each individual.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:57 PM   #6
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Oh good, I was hoping you'd comment on this--it is nice to have an expert around!

And all good info, too
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Old 12-14-2012, 10:15 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tad View Post
Oh good, I was hoping you'd comment on this--it is nice to have an expert around!

And all good info, too
This study has been a source of much conversation at work over the last few days. We all seem to agree that it is just too much of an overstatement, although it is likely that epigenetics are involved in sexual orientation determination.

That's what I want to emphasize here: I'm certainly not saying that epigenetics are not involved, or that transgenerational inheritance does not exist (it definitely does! And some organisms have very long-lived, profound TGI, like C. elegans), but rather that this is just the beginning of this investigation. Genomic regulation is so much more complex than anyone ever anticipated, so I am inclined (and obligated) to be highly skeptical of articles like this one.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:37 PM   #8
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I dunno. I feel like I get my queerness and so many other things from my mother's side. I take after my uncle so much it's scary...and he's gay.

I also believe my nephew (my brother's son) got it from me. He's only 12 so I don't really know...I'm not sure he knows, but if he does he isn't saying. But I see in him the things I feel like I got from my uncle...in soooooo many ways.
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Old 12-27-2012, 07:08 AM   #9
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I find it hard to look at my family and understand where it may have come from, because I'm not really convinced that many of them are open and honest and in touch with their true sexual feelings & desires. I find they tend to follow what they have been taught was right, not what they feel is right for them.

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