It's a boy or girl

Kevin Lewis

March 25, 2017

Childhood Gender-Typed Behavior and Adolescent Sexual Orientation: A Longitudinal Population-Based Study

Gu Li, Karson Kung & Melissa Hines

Developmental Psychology, April 2017, Pages 764-777

Lesbian and gay individuals have been reported to show more interest in other-sex, and/or less interest in same-sex, toys, playmates, and activities in childhood than heterosexual counterparts. Yet, most of the relevant evidence comes from retrospective studies or from prospective studies of clinically referred, extremely gender nonconforming children. In addition, findings are mixed regarding the relation between childhood gender-typed behavior and the later sexual orientation spectrum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively lesbian/gay. The current study drew a sample (2,428 girls and 2,169 boys) from a population-based longitudinal study, and found that the levels of gender-typed behavior at ages 3.5 and 4.75 years, although less so at age 2.5 years, significantly and consistently predicted adolescents’ sexual orientation at age 15 years, both when sexual orientation was conceptualized as 2 groups or as a spectrum. In addition, within-individual change in gender-typed behavior during the preschool years significantly related to adolescent sexual orientation, especially in boys. These results suggest that the factors contributing to the link between childhood gender-typed behavior and sexual orientation emerge during early development. Some of those factors are likely to be nonsocial, because nonheterosexual individuals appear to diverge from gender norms regardless of social encouragement to conform to gender roles.


Difference-in-Differences Analysis of the Association Between State Same-Sex Marriage Policies and Adolescent Suicide Attempts

Julia Raifman et al.

JAMA Pediatrics, forthcoming

Design, Setting, and Participants: This study used state-level Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) data from January 1, 1999, to December 31, 2015, which are weighted to be representative of each state that has participation in the survey greater than 60%. A difference-in-differences analysis compared changes in suicide attempts among all public high school students before and after implementation of state policies in 32 states permitting same-sex marriage with year-to-year changes in suicide attempts among high school students in 15 states without policies permitting same-sex marriage. Linear regression was used to control for state, age, sex, race/ethnicity, and year, with Taylor series linearized standard errors clustered by state and classroom. In a secondary analysis among students who are sexual minorities, we included an interaction between sexual minority identity and living in a state that had implemented same-sex marriage policies.

Results: Among the 762 678 students (mean [SD] age, 16.0 [1.2] years; 366 063 males and 396 615 females) who participated in the YRBSS between 1999 and 2015, a weighted 8.6% of all high school students and 28.5% of 231 413 students who identified as sexual minorities reported suicide attempts before implementation of same-sex marriage policies. Same-sex marriage policies were associated with a 0.6–percentage point (95% CI, –1.2 to –0.01 percentage points) reduction in suicide attempts, representing a 7% relative reduction in the proportion of high school students attempting suicide owing to same-sex marriage implementation. The association was concentrated among students who were sexual minorities.

Conclusions and Relevance: State same-sex marriage policies were associated with a reduction in the proportion of high school students reporting suicide attempts, providing empirical evidence for an association between same-sex marriage policies and mental health outcomes.


The Interaction of Same-Sex Marriage Access With Sexual Minority Identity on Mental Health and Subjective Wellbeing

Alexander Tatum

Journal of Homosexuality, May 2017, Pages 638-653

Previous psychological and public health research has highlighted the impact of legal recognition of same-sex relationships on individual identity and mental health. Using a sample of U.S. sexual minority (N = 313) and heterosexual (N = 214) adults, participants completed a battery of mental health inventories prior to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) examining identity revealed sexual minority participants living in states where same-sex marriage was banned experienced significantly higher levels of internalized homonegativity than sexual minority participants living in states where same-sex marriage was legal, even after controlling for state-level political climate. Mental health ANCOVAs revealed sexual minority participants residing in states without same-sex marriage experienced greater anxiety and lower subjective wellbeing compared to sexual minority participants residing in states with same-sex marriage and heterosexual participants residing in states with or without same-sex marriage. Implications for public policy and future research directions are discussed.


An Endocrine Basis for Tomboy Identity: The Second-to-Fourth Digit Ratio (2D:4D) in “Tomboys”

Beth Atkinson, Tom Smulders & Joel Wallenberg

Psychoneuroendocrinology, May 2017, Pages 9–12

This paper investigates the relationship between organizational effects of pre-natal testosterone and the use of “tomboy” as a descriptor for young women. We show in a sample of 44 women that a woman's right hand 2D:4D ratio is a significant predictor of whether they will be labeled as a “tomboy”, with a decrease in 2D:4D ratio corresponding to an increase in the probability of being called “tomboy”. Taking the right hand 2D:4D ratio as a proxy for the abundance of testosterone in the early life hormonal milieu, we propose that organizing effects of higher pre-natal T lead to increased masculine-typical behavior in childhood, which increases the likelihood some women will be referred to as tomboys. We suggest that the increase in masculine-typical behaviors is a result of how the organizing effects of T on the brain interact with children's social modeling of male-coded and female-coded behaviors.


Intimate partner support: A comparison of gay, lesbian, and heterosexual relationships

Lillian Ellis & Mark Davis

Personal Relationships, forthcoming

In this investigation, intimate partner support, relationship satisfaction, and separation proneness were assessed for four types of people: men in a relationship with a woman (MRW), men in a relationship with a man (MRM), women in a relationship with a man (WRM), and women in a relationship with a woman (WRW). Men and women in same-sex relationships received more support, were more satisfied, and reported fewer thoughts of separating than their counterparts in opposite-sex relationships. The effect of relationship type on satisfaction was not significant once the amount of received support was controlled. The implications of these findings for understanding the support process in same-sex relationships are discussed.


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