Physical Development and Sexual Orientation in Men and Women: An Analysis of NATSAL-2000
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In the present study, three physical development characteristics—weight, height, and age of menarche—were examined for their relation to sexual orientation. Participants were men and women comprising the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles-2000 (N > 11,000). Participants completed self-report measures of sexual orientation, height, weight, and, for women, age of menarche. Results indicated that gay/bisexual men were significantly shorter and lighter than heterosexual men. There were no significant differences between lesbians and heterosexual women in height, weight, and age of puberty. The results add to literature suggesting that, relative to heterosexual men, gay/bisexual men may have different patterns of growth and development because of early biological influences (e.g., exposure to atypical levels of androgens prenatally). However, the present results do not support a number of studies suggesting that lesbian/bisexual women are taller and heavier than heterosexual women.
KeywordsSexual orientation Physical development Height Weight Menarche
I thank Luanne K. Jamieson for comments on a previous draft of this article. I also thank the investigators at the National Centre for Social Research for making these data accessible to researchers. Finally, I thank three anonymous reviewers and the Editor for helpful comments.
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