Marissa Higgins
September 05, 2016 9:40 am
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Most of us recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as complex, nuanced issues. Still, it can feel easy to fall into certain quick, pithy statements like “born this way” as a way to explain sexual orientation and gender identity.

While the sentiment of “born this way” is absolutely a good one, the science behind the statement is still growing.

In a recent paper conducted by J. Michael Bailey, Paul L. Vasey, Lisa M. Diamond, S. Marc Breedlove, Eric Vilain, and Marc Epprecht called Sexual Orientation, Controversy, and Science, the researchers from various respective fields (including psychology, neuroscience, and genetic) try to build more evidence supporting the notion that gender identity and sexual orientation are truly things we are “born with” as opposed to things that are impacted by nurture, our upbringing, or so on.

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It’s important to clarify that their efforts are not meant to dissuade people from believing that orientation and identity are “born this way,” but rather to offer real scientific evidence to prove it.

One major aspect of their research is looking into how and why, we have recognizable patterns across cultures and societies. Basically, how we can understand the correlations of behaviors of expressions from our youth that manifest into someone “coming out” as LGBTQ later in life.

An example that Jesse Singal uses when describing the study over at Science of Us is that, “For gay men and women, the pattern flips: Gay men are more into people-things than their straight brothers and dad, while gay women are more into object-things than their straight sisters and moms. This blending of stereotypically gendered behavior seems to extend to ‘gestures and walking,’ ‘speech,’ ‘physical presentation,’ and ‘even facial appearance.’

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It’s fair to point out that researchers are looking at overall trends and averages and there are plenty of personal examples that do not fit into these general trends at all.

In no way are these claims meant to be taken for every single person, LGBTQ or otherwise, as a universal truth or measure.

That’s why research like this is so important: While we all know that LGBTQ rights are human rights, it’s still important in terms of science for us to understand how gender identity and sexual orientation work innately. Asking questions and probing deeper is always better in terms of understanding, though nuance and complexity are basically a required part of the process. Let’s all learn together, right?

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