• Question: [The lectures] briefly mentioned sexuality as something that you're born with - is it due to a gene, and if so, could people alter their unborn children's sexuality or could this gene cause either fluid or rigid sexuality?

    Asked by lectureattendee to Paul, Emma on 1 Feb 2019.
    • Photo: Emma Meaburn

      Emma Meaburn answered on 1 Feb 2019:


      I do not do research in this area, but from what I know of the literature there is evidence for a genetic contribution to non-heterosexual behaviour (i.e., genes explain about 1/3 of the differences we see between people in terms of their sexual orientation). Genes are not the whole story , but seem important.

      There are some big studies currently being performed to find more out about the specific genes involved, such as a study by the Neale lab: http://www.nealelab.is/data/ and https://blog.23andme.com/23andme-research/23andme-studies-the-genetics-of-sexual-orientation/

      These articles would be a good place to start if you wanted to learn a bit more. The most important message is that while genes play a role – there are lots (and lots) of them. There is not ‘one gene’ for sexuality, so trying to edit or change gene function by genome editing would probably be a futile (and very expensive task)!

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