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Genetic and environmental influences on sexual orientation: moderation by childhood gender nonconformity and early-life adversity

Oginni, Olakunle Ayokunmi, Alanko, Katarina, Jern, Patrick and Rijsdijk, Frühling Vesta 2023. Genetic and environmental influences on sexual orientation: moderation by childhood gender nonconformity and early-life adversity. Archives of Sexual Behavior 10.1007/s10508-023-02761-w

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Existing evidence indicates genetic and non-genetic influences on sexual orientation; however, the possibility of gene-environment interplay has not been previously formally tested despite theories indicating this. Using a Finnish twin cohort, this study investigated whether childhood gender nonconformity and early-life adversities independently moderated individual differences in sexual orientation and childhood gender nonconformity, the relationship between them, and the etiological bases of the proposed moderation effects. Sexual orientation, childhood gender nonconformity, and early-life adversities were assessed using standard questionnaires. Structural equation twin model fitting was carried out using OpenMx. Childhood gender nonconformity was significantly associated with reduced phenotypic variance in sexual orientation (β =  − 0.14, 95% CI − 0.27, − 0.01). A breakdown of the underlying influences of this moderation effect showed that this was mostly due to moderation of individual-specific environmental influences which significantly decreased as childhood gender nonconformity increased (βE =  − 0.38; 95% CI − 0.52, − 0.001) while additive genetic influences were not significantly moderated (βA = 0.05; 95% CI − 0.30, 0.27). We also observed that the relationship between sexual orientation and childhood gender nonconformity was stronger at higher levels of childhood gender nonconformity (β = 0.10, 95% CI 0.05, 0.14); however, significance of the underlying genetic and environmental influences on this relationship could not be established in this sample. The findings indicate that beyond a correlation of their genetic and individual-specific environmental influences, childhood gender nonconformity is further significantly associated with reduced individual-specific influences on sexual orientation.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0004-0002
Date of Acceptance: 24 November 2023
Last Modified: 20 May 2024 09:31

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