Female sexual orientation and pubertal onset

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Female sexual orientation and pubertal onset

  1. 1. • Female Sexual Orientation and Pubertal Onset• Journal article; Developmental Neuropsychology, Vol. 14, 1998 Female Sexual Orientation and Pubertal Onset Wendy N. Tenhula and J. Michael Bailey Department of Psychology Northwestern University Both sexual orientation and pubertal onset are sexually dimorphic. Biologic theories of sexual orientation emphasize the role of early androgens in sexual differentiation of panner preference. If homosexual individuals have been subject to atypical androgenizing influences, such influences may also affect other sexually dimorphic traits, such as pubertal timing. Based on this rationale as well as promising evidence from a prior twin study, we examined the onset of puberty in lesbians. We hypothesized that lesbians would have a later (i.e., more masculine) age of pubertal onset compared to heterosexual women. We investigated this hypothesis in a sample of community volunteers and a second sample of discordant twins. Contrary to our hypothesis, we found no significant differences in pubertal onset between homosexual and heterosexual women. Human sexual orientation is highly sexually dimorphic, with the vast majority of men preferring female partners, and women preferring male partners ( Diamond, 1993). Pubertal timing is also sexually dimorphic, with girls experiencing puberty on average 2 years earlier than boys ( Kulin & Müller, 1996; Wheeler, 1991). The sexual differentiation of neither sexual orientation nor pubertal timing in humans is well understood. However, indirect evidence suggests that both may be influenced by the organizational effects of prenatal androgens (e.g., Herbosa & Foster, 1996; LeVay, 1991). If so, then individuals who have been subject to atypical prenatal androgenization may be atypical both in their sexual orientation and in their pubertal onset. For example, lesbians may have masculine (i.e., relatively late) ____________________ Requests for reprints should be sent to J. Michael Bailey, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208. E-mail: jm- bailey@nwu.edu -369- Questia Media America, Inc. www.questia.com Publication Information: Article Title: Female Sexual Orientation and Pubertal Onset. Journal Title: Developmental Neuropsychology. Volume: 14. Issue: 2/3. Publication Year: 1998. Page Number: 369.

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