A Look at Theories on Prenatal Causes of Homosexuality


Published on

This presentation was made for a writing class with a focus on gender and sexuality. It is based off an article by Richard C. Friedman and Jennifer I. Downey. It looks at homosexuality theories from a biological basis.

Published in: Education, Health & Medicine
  • Be the first to comment

A Look at Theories on Prenatal Causes of Homosexuality

  1. 1. A Look at Theories on Prenatal Causes of Homosexuality
  2. 2. Based off “Sexual Differentiation of Behavior: The Foundation of a Developmental Model of Psychosexuality” by Richard C. Friedman & Jennifer I. Downey
  3. 3. Researchers have speculated that the cause of homosexuality may be due to the exposure of atypical levels of prenatal hormones.
  4. 4. For instance, these researchers think if a female is exposed to levels of male hormones that are higher than normal, she will be homosexual. (Friedman & Downey, 2011, p.149)
  5. 5. In this presentation… <ul><li>How sex is determined </li></ul><ul><li>Theories on Homosexuality: Internal Factors </li></ul><ul><li>Theories on Homosexuality: External Factors </li></ul>
  6. 6. Before we begin, some terms: <ul><li>Androgen </li></ul><ul><li>Testosterone </li></ul><ul><li>Prenatal </li></ul><ul><li>Secrete </li></ul><ul><li>Chromosome </li></ul>
  7. 7. Androgen <ul><li>Sex hormones found in both males and females, but produced in different levels </li></ul><ul><li>Males produce higher level </li></ul>( Medterms , 2011)
  8. 8. Testosterone <ul><li>Male hormone the testes produce </li></ul><ul><li>Helps in the development of secondary sex characteristics for males (i.e. facial hair or deep voice). </li></ul><ul><li>High levels related to aggression. </li></ul>( Medterms , 2011)
  9. 9. Prenatal <ul><li>Stage of development after the baby has been conceived </li></ul><ul><li>Before the baby is born </li></ul>( Medterms , 2011)
  10. 10. Secrete <ul><li>When a cell or organ releases a substance that the organism needs, or that needs to be discharged from the body. </li></ul>( Medterms , 2011)
  11. 11. Chromosome <ul><li>Microscopic material that carries the genes </li></ul><ul><li>Typically people have 46 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>44 non-sex chromosomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 sex chromosomes: XX for females or XY for males </li></ul></ul>( Medterms , 2011)
  12. 12. Part 1: How Sex is Determined…
  13. 13. How Sex is Determined <ul><li>Up until 6 weeks the male and female fetuses appear the same </li></ul><ul><li>If Y chromosome is there, a surge of male hormones occurs = male baby </li></ul><ul><li>If not, fetus becomes female </li></ul>(Friedman & Downey, 2007, p.148)
  14. 14. Critical Periods of Sensitivity <ul><li>Different parts of the body of the fetus are more sensitive to testosterone at different times throughout the pregnancy </li></ul>(Friedman & Downey, 2007, p.149)
  15. 15. Different Periods For: <ul><li>The brain and behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Development of the genitals </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual Behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>Non-sexual behaviors </li></ul>(Friedman & Downey, 2007, p.149)
  16. 16. …So this means that: <ul><li>If something caused a lower level of testosterone for a male baby at one point in the pregnancy, he may have one of the following: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Genitals that look female </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feminine behaviors </li></ul></ul>(Friedman & Downey, 2007, p.149)
  17. 17. Feminine behaviors include feminine sexual behaviors, like males being attracted to other males.
  18. 18. Part 2: Theories on Sexuality: Internal Factors
  19. 19. Homosexual interests can be caused by: <ul><li>The girl fetus being exposed to an abnormally high level of androgens while in the womb </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The male exposed to abnormally low levels </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But how does that happen… </li></ul>
  20. 20. In females it can happen due to Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.
  21. 21. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia <ul><li>More androgen produced in replacement of missing enzyme </li></ul><ul><li>Results: some male characteristics </li></ul>
  22. 22. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: Effects <ul><li>Possible effects in girls: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Deep voice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abnormal or no menstruation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facial hair, excessive hair growth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Early display of armpit and pubic hair </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Genitals that look both female and male </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Often look more similar to male genitals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>But have normal reproductive organs (inside, I.e. ovaries) </li></ul></ul></ul>(Gold, 2001)
  23. 23. In males homosexual interests can be caused by Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.
  24. 24. Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome <ul><li>Males incapable of reacting to androgen </li></ul><ul><li>Results: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>female genitals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>testes in abdomen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>breasts at puberty (no menstruation) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>female nor male ducts develop completely </li></ul></ul>(Gold, 2001)
  25. 25. Part 3: Homosexual Theories: External Imbalances
  26. 26. If during the pregnancy… <ul><li>The mother is somehow affected by male hormones </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I.e. Medicine affects hormones </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The external influence of hormones then can affect the fetus in the womb </li></ul>(Friedman & Downey, 2007, p.147)
  27. 27. To sum it all up….
  28. 28. These theories propose a biological basis for homosexuality. These theories may be compelling BUT…
  29. 29. <ul><li>Society/ culture </li></ul><ul><li>How a child is brought up </li></ul><ul><li>Individual personality traits </li></ul>The don’t address factors that may influence gender like…
  30. 30. No one can say what has the largest influence though!
  31. 31. It’s up to YOU to learn more and make your own decision!! Use the internet to research different theories!
  32. 32. Here’s a good article to start with: Homosexuality: Nurture or Nature Check out the links at the bottom of the article as well! (Johnson, 2003)
  33. 34. Sources <ul><li>Friedman, R.C. & Downey, J.I. (2007). Sexual Differentiation of Behavior: The Foundation of a Developmental Model of Psychosexuality. Journal of the American Psychoanalytical Association , 56(1), 147-175. DOI: 10.1177/0003065108315690 </li></ul><ul><li>MedTerms. (2011). MedicineNet. Retrieved April 10, 2011 from http://www.medterms.com/script/main/hp.asp </li></ul><ul><li>Gold, C. (2001, November). The Intersex Spectrum. Sex: Unknown. Retrieved April 16, 2011 from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/gender/spectrum.html </li></ul><ul><li>Johnson, R.D. (2003, April 30). Homosexuality: Nurture or Nature. AllPsych Online. Retrieved April 23, 2011 from http://allpsych.com/journal/homosexuality.html </li></ul>