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Alana's Articles


?Fingerprints and Homosexuality

Someone is not allowed to marry the person of his or her choice. Their lifelong partner is denied insurance coverage. A dying man is not allowed to see the person he most cares about, people antagonistic to his beliefs and lifestyle have control over his remaining days and the ultimate disposition of his assets. A horror story from long ago? No. This is America in 1996, and the battle over homosexual rights is entering a key phase.

On the one side is the Catholic Church and others who consider homosexuality a sinful lifestyle choice. On the other side are those who feel an unfair infringement on the civil rights of a select population. If it were proven that homosexuality was determined before birth, the controversy would be over. Genes cannot be sinful.

But where is the proof that one's sexual orientation can be genetically influenced? In fingerprints, as a matter of fact. What follows is a reprint of an Associated Press report, Monday, Dec. 26, 1994.

Fingerprints suggest gay link

Researchers say higher percentage have more ridges on left hand

Washington - Two Canadian researchers have found a link between the number of ridges in fingerprints and male homosexuality, adding to the theory that sexual orientation is determined before birth.

The researchers, working at the University of Western Ontario, compared the number of ridges on the fingertips of 66 homosexual men with 182 heterosexual men.

Thirty percent of the homosexual men showed more ridges on their left hands than their right, while only 14% of the heterosexual men showed the same pattern.

Most men and women have more ridges on their right hands. Fingerprints are completely developed in fetuses by about the 16th week after conception, and are largely genetically determined.

"This certainly suggests sexual orientation is somehow determined by prenatal events," said researcher Doreen Kimura.

The study appears in the December issue of Behavioral Neuroscience.

Kimura and the study's lead author, graduate student Jeffrey Hall, said the fingerprint patterns are not distinctive to gay men or a marker of homosexuality. Most homosexual men show the more typical pattern of more ridges on the right hand, they noted.

"What we found is a statistically significant difference between groups of heterosexual and homosexual men," Kimura said.

Roger Gorski, a UCLA neurobiologist who has done extensive research on sexual differentiation called the study "another suggestion that there's a biological component to sexuality." But he said he had some trouble with making the connection between ridges on the fingers and sexual orientation.

"The way I like to summarize it is sexual orientation is a multifaceted behavior and it's unlikely that one gene, that one hormone, that one environmental experience--or that one fingerprint--is going to be an explanation for everything," he said.

Kimura is also known for her work on differences between men and women, ranging from problem-solving ability to brain hemisphere differences.

She speculates that there is a link between finger ridge patterns and the development of the nervous system. Many of the gay men with more ridges on their left hands were also left-handed. Research has identified a higher incidence of left-handedness among gay men and lesbians than in the general population.

The team also found a difference in hearing. Most people report words spoken to the right ear more accurately than words spoken to the left ear. The right ear is directly linked to the brain's left hemisphere, which controls speech.

However, Kimura and Hall found some gay men could hear equally well out of both ears. This might be due to better transmission between the brain's hemispheres, Kimura said.