Identical confusion : the history of twin studies on sexual orientation, 1952-1973 Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/n870zv03r

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  • In 1952, at the height of the McCarthy era, Franz Kallmann, a Jewish psychiatrist and eugenicist who fled the National Socialist regime in Germany, published a study, in which he claimed to have found a one hundred percent concordance rate for homosexuality among forty pairs of identical twins. From this data, Kallmann concluded that homosexuality, which he saw as a pathological mental condition, had a genetic cause. As well as being a clear statement that sexual orientation is constitutionally based, Kallmann's study also reflected social and scientific conceptions of lesbians and gay men that had been extant for centuries. The twin study perpetuated the portrayal of homosexual women and men as insane in general, and in particular continued the stereotype that lesbians were masculine and that gay men were effeminate. Seven responses to Kallmann's study were published between 1960 and 1973, some in support of his genetic theory, others favoring environmental explanations based loosely on psychoanalytic theories. The environmental argument eventually gained ground in twin studies in the late 1960s concurrent with the widespread acceptance in the psychiatric community of the theory that homosexuality is caused by dysfunctional relationships between parents and children. The seven twin studies that responded to Kallmann retained his characterization of lesbians and gay men as gender transgressors. Simultaneously, homosexual activist groups began to question the pathological model of sexual orientation. Twin studies of this type ended in 1973, the same year that the American Psychiatric Association reversed its position on homosexuality and removed it from the diagnostic manual.
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