Eye Color, Hair Color, Blood Type, and the Rhesus Factor: Exploring Possible Genetic Links to Sexual Orientation

Abstract

The present study sought to expand the limited evidence that sexual orientation is influenced by genetic factors. This was accomplished by seeking statistical differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals for four traits that are known to be genetically determined: eye color, natural hair color, blood type, and the Rhesus factor. Using a sample of over 7,000 U.S. and Canadian college students supplemented with additional homosexual subjects obtained through internet contacts, we found no significant differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals regarding eye color or hair color. In the case of blood type and the Rh factor, however, interesting patterns emerged. Heterosexual males and females exhibited statistically identical frequencies of the A blood type, while gay men exhibited a relatively low incidence and lesbians had a relatively high incidence (p < .05). In the case of the Rh factor, unusually high proportions of homosexuals of both sexes were Rh− when compared to heterosexuals (p < .06). The findings suggest that a connection may exist between sexual orientation and genes both on chromosome 9 (where blood type is determined) and on chromosome 1 (where the Rh factor is regulated).

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Correspondence to Lee Ellis.

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Ellis, L., Ficek, C., Burke, D. et al. Eye Color, Hair Color, Blood Type, and the Rhesus Factor: Exploring Possible Genetic Links to Sexual Orientation. Arch Sex Behav 37, 145–149 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-007-9274-0

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Keywords

  • Sexual orientation
  • Blood type
  • Rhesus factor
  • Hair color
  • Eye color
  • Genetics