Sexual orientation is something that many people consider to be an innate characteristic—it’s something you’re born with. This idea is popular within the LGBTQ community, and it’s something that has been used as a basis for arguing in favor of equal rights for sexual minorities. As the reasoning goes, if you’re “born this way,” then what basis is there for treating people differently based on their sexuality under the law?
There’s a problem with the “born this way” argument, though—actually, there are three problems, as Dr. Lisa Diamond explains in the TEDx video below: “First, it’s not scientifically accurate. Second, it’s not legally necessary. But third and most important, it’s actually unjust.”
I know some of you reading this are thinking: How can that be? There’s a lot of evidence (much of it discussed on this blog and in my other writings) claiming that sexual orientation is linked to genetics, prenatal hormone exposure, and other biological factors, right? Yes—that hasn’t changed and Dr. Diamond doesn’t dispute that. The crux of her argument is really that what we’ve leaned about sexual fluidity in recent years poses some important complications for the “born this way” narrative because the research on this subject shows that people’s sexual attractions, behaviors, and identities can change over the course of the lifespan (although, to be clear, this is not to suggest that sexual orientation can be consciously changed or that we choose our attractions).
Check out the full video to learn more about Dr. Diamond’s perspective and weigh in with your comments below.
Watch more videos on the science of sex here.
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Image Source: 123RF/Juan Bernal
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