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J Homosex. 1993;24(3-4):41-54.

Childhood cross-gender behavior and adult homosexuality: the resurgence of biological models of sexuality.

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  • 1University of California, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, San Francisco 94105.


Research on the causes of homosexuality frequently treat it as a matter of disturbed gender identity and/or gender role. Recently, attempts have been made to link cross-gender behavior among boys with adult homosexuality. Often this research presumes a common biological determinant to both the childhood behavior patterns and homosexuality in adulthood. Authors have described such childhood cross-gender behavior in boys as part of a "prehomosexual" configuration. This paper argues that the research to date suffers from (1) a failure to differentiate such concepts as gender identity, gender role and sexual orientation, (2) a reliance upon potentially inappropriate dichotomies in describing such concepts, (3) problematic interpretations of research that makes few distinctions between human sexual behavior and sexual behavior among rodents, and (4) the contradictions implicit in seeking simple biological determinants of constructs (such as cross-gender behavior) that are culturally determined. The author argues that any potential biological factors contributing to sexual orientation must be mediated by a complex sequence of experiences and psychosocial factors. Therefore, the essentialists' search for a simple congruence between physiological or biological traits and homosexuality may be expected to fail.

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