Sexual identity rooted in genes
( 2003-10-23 14:30) (Shanghai Star)
Sexual identity is wired into
the genes, which discounts the concept that homosexuality and transgender
sexuality are a choice, according to a group of California researchers.
"Our findings may help answer an important question - why do we feel male or
female?" Dr Eric Vilain, a genetics professor at the University of California,
Los Angeles School of Medicine, said last Monday.
"Sexual identity is rooted in every person's biology before birth and springs
from a variation in our individual genome."
His team has identified 54 genes in mice that may explain why male and female
brains look and function differently.
Since the 1970s, scientists have believed that estrogen and testosterone were
wholly responsible for sexually organizing the brain. Recent evidence, however,
indicates that hormones cannot explain everything about sexuality.
The discovery may also offer physicians an improved tool for gender
assignment of babies born with ambiguous genitalia.