Human Nature

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 375–401 | Cite as

Male Androphilia in the Ancestral Environment

An Ethnological Analysis


The kin selection hypothesis posits that male androphilia (male sexual attraction to adult males) evolved because androphilic males invest more in kin, thereby enhancing inclusive fitness. Increased kin-directed altruism has been repeatedly documented among a population of transgendered androphilic males, but never among androphilic males in other cultures who adopt gender identities as men. Thus, the kin selection hypothesis may be viable if male androphilia was expressed in the transgendered form in the ancestral past. Using the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS), we examined 46 societies in which male androphilia was expressed in the transgendered form (transgendered societies) and 146 comparison societies (non-transgendered societies). We analyzed SCCS variables pertaining to ancestral sociocultural conditions, access to kin, and societal reactions to homosexuality. Our results show that ancestral sociocultural conditions and bilateral and double descent systems were more common in transgendered than in non-transgendered societies. Across the entire sample, descent systems and residence patterns that would presumably facilitate increased access to kin were associated with the presence of ancestral sociocultural conditions. Among transgendered societies, negative societal attitudes toward homosexuality were unlikely. We conclude that the ancestral human sociocultural environment was likely conducive to the expression of the transgendered form of male androphilia. Descent systems, residence patterns, and societal reactions to homosexuality likely facilitated investments in kin by transgendered males. Given that contemporary transgendered male androphiles appear to exhibit elevated kin-directed altruism, these findings further indicate the viability of the kin selection hypothesis.


Ethnology Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (SCCS) Sexual orientation Human evolution Kin selection Transgenderism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Doug P. VanderLaan
    • 1
  • Zhiyuan Ren
    • 2
  • Paul L. Vasey
    • 2
  1. 1.Gender Identity Service, Child, Youth and Family Services, Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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