Familiality of Gender Nonconformity Among Homosexual Men

  • J. Michael BaileyEmail author
  • Gerulf Rieger
  • Ritesha S. Krishnappa
  • Alana B. Kolundzija
  • Khytam Dawood
  • Alan R. Sanders
Original Paper


We examined whether recalled childhood gender nonconformity and self-reported adult gender nonconformity is familial, using data from 1154 families selected for having at least two homosexual brothers. Specifically, we examined the extent to which homosexual men’s variation in gender nonconformity runs in families by examining pairs of genetic brothers who were both homosexual (N = 672–697 full sibling concordant pairs). We also examined similarity between homosexual and heterosexual brothers (N = 79–82 full sibling discordant pairs). Consistent with past studies, concordant pairs yielded modest positive correlations consistent with moderate genetic and/or familial environmental effects on gender nonconformity. Unlike results of smaller past studies, discordant pairs also yielded modest positive, though nonsignificant, correlations. Our results support the feasibility of supplementing genetic studies of male sexual orientation with analyses of gender nonconformity variation.


Sexual orientation Homosexuality Gender nonconformity Familiality Genetics 



This research was supported by NICHD: the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (A.R.S., Grant No. R01HD041563).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical approval of NorthShore University HealthSystem IRB.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Bailey, J. M., Dunne, M. P., & Martin, N. G. (2000). Genetic and environmental influences on sexual orientation and its correlates in an Australian twin sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,78, 524–536. Scholar
  2. Bailey, J. M., Miller, J. S., & Willerman, L. (1993). Maternally rated childhood gender nonconformity in homosexuals and heterosexuals. Archives of Sexual Behavior,22(5), 461–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailey, J. M., Nothnagel, J., & Wolfe, M. (1995). Retrospectively measured individual differences in childhood sex-typed behavior among gay men: Correspondence between self-and maternal reports. Archives of Sexual Behavior,24, 613–622. Scholar
  4. Bailey, J. M., & Pillard, R. C. (1991). A genetic study of male sexual orientation. Archives of General Psychiatry,48, 1089–1096. Scholar
  5. Bailey, J. M., Vasey, P. L., Diamond, L. M., Breedlove, S. M., Vilain, E., & Epprecht, M. (2016). Sexual orientation, controversy, and science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest,17, 45–101. Scholar
  6. Bailey, J. M., & Zucker, K. J. (1995). Childhood sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation: A conceptual analysis and quantitative review. Developmental Psychology,31, 43–55. Scholar
  7. Blanchard, R. (2018). Fraternal birth order, family size, and male homosexuality: Meta-analysis of studies spanning 25 years. Archives of Sexual Behavior,47(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bogaert, A. F. (2003). Interaction of older brothers and sex-typing in the prediction of sexual orientation in men. Archives of Sexual Behavior,32(2), 129–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bouchard, T. J., Lykken, D. T., McGue, M., Segal, N., & Tellegen, A. (1990). When kin correlations are not squared. Science,250, 1498. Scholar
  10. Dawood, K., Pillard, R. C., Horvath, C., Revelle, W., & Bailey, J. M. (2000). Familial aspects of male homosexuality. Archives of Sexual Behavior,29, 155–163. Scholar
  11. Harry, J. (1985). Defeminization and social class. Archives of Sexual Behavior,14, 1–12. Scholar
  12. Kendler, K. S., McGuire, M., Gruenberg, A. M., & Walsh, D. (1994). Outcome and family study of the subtypes of schizophrenia in the west of Ireland. American Journal of Psychiatry,151(6), 849–856.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kendler, K. S., Tsuang, M. T., & Hays, P. (1987). Age at onset in schizophrenia: A familial perspective. Archives of General Psychiatry,44(10), 881–890.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kinsey, P., Pomeroy, W. B., & Martin, C. E. (1948). Sexual behavior in the human male. Philadelphia, PA: W. B. Saunders.Google Scholar
  15. Li, G., Kung, K. T. F., & Hines, M. (2017). Childhood gender-typed behavior and adolescent sexual orientation: A longitudinal population-based study. Developmental Psychology, 53, 764–777. Scholar
  16. Lippa, R. A. (2005). Gender, nature, and nurture. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Loftus, J. (2001). America’s liberalization in attitudes toward homosexuality, 1973 to 1998. American Sociological Review,66, 762–782. Scholar
  18. Rieger, G., Linsenmeier, J. A. W., Gygax, L., & Bailey, J. M. (2008). Sexual orientation and childhood gender nonconformity: Evidence from home videos. Developmental Psychology,44, 46–58. Scholar
  19. Rieger, G., Linsenmeier, J. A. W., Gygax, L., Garcia, S. C., & Bailey, J. M. (2010). Dissecting “gaydar”: Accuracy and the role of masculinity-femininity. Archives of Sexual Behavior,39, 124–140. Scholar
  20. Sanders, A. R., Martin, E. R., Beecham, G. W., Guo, S., Dawood, K., Rieger, G., … Duan, J. (2015). Genome-wide scan demonstrates significant linkage for male sexual orientation. Psychological Medicine,45, 1379–1388. Scholar
  21. Schaie, K. W. (1965). A general model for the study of developmental problems. Psychological Bulletin,64, 92–107. Scholar
  22. Turkheimer, E. (2000). Three laws of behavior genetics and what they mean. Current Directions in Psychological Science,9, 160–164. Scholar
  23. Watts, T. M., Holmes, L., Raines, J., Orbell, S., & Rieger, G. (2018). Gender nonconformity of identical twins with discordant sexual orientations: Evidence from childhood photographs. Developmental Psychology,54, 788–801. Scholar
  24. Weissman, M. M., Wickramaratne, P., Merikangas, K. R., Leckman, J. F., Prusoff, B. A., Caruso, K. A., … Gammon, G. D. (1984). Onset of major depression in early adulthood: increased familial loading and specificity. Archives of General Psychiatry,41(12), 1136–1143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Zucker, K. J., Mitchell, J. N., Bradley, S. J., Tkachuk, J., Cantor, J. M., & Allin, S. M. (2006). The recalled childhood gender identity/gender role questionnaire: Psychometric properties. Sex Roles,54, 469–483. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryIcahn School of Medicine at Mount SinaiNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Collective ImpactSan FranciscoUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  6. 6.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesNorthShore University HealthSystem Research InstituteEvanstonUSA
  7. 7.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral NeuroscienceUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA

Personalised recommendations