People are born gay

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People are born gay is a pseudoscientific purported factual claim concerning the immutability of sexual preferences which also comes in other forms such as Sexual preferences are immutable or Homosexuals do not choose to be this way. The claim is often invoked so as to appeal to non-discrimination based on sexual preferences (i.e. We should not discriminate based on immutable characteristics). It is also invoked to discredit any attempt at developing therapies that can help people experiencing unwanted homosexual urges to get rid of these urges. Despite its role in such moral claims, the thesis that homosexuality is unchangeable is very poorly supported and ignores several examples of people who have reported succeeding at changing their lifestyle from an homosexual one to a heterosexual one.

The idea that people are born gay is often incorrectly tied to the question of whether genes cause homosexuality, where any evidence that genes do play a role in the development of homosexual behavior is taken as evidence that people are born gay. Despite the fact that studies do demonstrate that certain genes are associated with a higher likelihood of becoming homosexual[1], such a demonstration still begs the question as to whether these genes create their effects in an immutable fashion, or whether they simply create predispositions that would make one more or less likely to be influenced by environmental factors that would guide them toward the homosexual lifestyle. Thus a demonstration that genes play a role is not a demonstration that changeable environmental factors are not at play. Believing otherwise is a failure at understanding that Nature vs. Nurture is a false dichotomy.

The claim that homosexuality is generally not chosen is featured in a filing with the Supreme Court of the United States of America by the APA, submitted with the intent of discrediting conversion therapy and supporting gay marriage rights:[2] "Most gay men and lesbians do not experience their sexual orientation as a voluntary choice." This conclusion was based on a self-assessment survey [3]. This method of assessment has the problem that people's self-assessment is not a reliable source of information as to the causes of their own behaviors.

The claim that homosexuality is an immutable characteristic is also prominently featured on the APA website[4]. It is generally based on a dismissal of the effectiveness of conversion therapy. This dismissal begs the question: even if current techniques in conversion therapy were not working, would that mean that homosexuality is unchangeable? Certainly not. It could mean, for instance, that current methods are simply inadequate. Furthermore, the claims that homosexuality is immutable often completely ignore examples of people who did change from a homosexual lifestyle to a heterosexual one[5]. Another common way advocates of the claim will engage with these examples is by denying that the people experiencing these changes were truly homosexual in the first place[6]. But this is the equivalent of saying "sexuality is only mutable when it is mutable, and immutable otherwise," which is circular logic and moving the goalpost.

Notably, despite the fact that medicine has developed medications to basically change every aspect of one's body or mind (from blood pressure to sexual hormones and other medications impacting mental features such as depressive thoughts and psychosis), there never was a serious scientific attempt at developing medication that changes one's sexual orientation. Thus in the absence of such attempt and the associated evidence, it is impossible to state with any level of certainty that people are born gay.

Interestingly, proponents of the idea that people are born gay often do not reach the same conclusion in other domains for which there is as much evidence for a genetic basis for a given behavior. For instance, one will rarely defend the idea that people are born Republicans, or that people are born disliking vaccines, or that people are born racists. This differential attitude with other dimensions of human behavior highlights the fact that the argument that people are born gay, although factual in nature, is not used as such by its proponents, who rather used it as a tool to push a hidden ethical and political agenda.

Statement of the claim People are born gay
Level of certainty False
Nature Factual
Counterclaim Sexual preferences can change during lifetime
Dependent on
Dependency of


  1. Holden, Constance (January 3, 1992) Twin Study Links Genes to Homosexuality. Science 255:33. Accessed on February 3, 2022.
  2. APA, {{{first}}} (March 6, 2015) Brief of the APA to the United States Supreme Court. Supreme Court of the United States of America. Accessed on February 3, 2022.
  3. Herek et al., {{{first}}} (March 3, 2010) Demographic, Psychological, and Social Characteristics of Self-Identified Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Adults in a US Probability Sample. Sexuality Research & Social Policy 7:176-200. Accessed on February 3, 2022.
  4. APA, {{{first}}} (1995) Romer v. Evans. APA Website. Accessed on February 3, 2022.
  5. Diamond, Lisa M. (April 15, 2009) Sexual Fluidity. Harvard University Press. Accessed on February 3, 2022.
  6. Uribe, Dean (October 12, 2005) Homosexuality is usually immutable. Olympia. Accessed on February 3, 2022.