The subtlety of sex-atypicality

Michael P. Dunne*, J. Michael Bailey, Katherine M. Kirk, Nicholas G. Martin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Memories of sex-atypical behavior and interests in childhood usually differ between homosexual and heterosexual people. However, variation within these broad groups has not previously been explored in detail, especially among women. We utilized data from a postal survey of a nationwide sample of Australian adult twins (n = 4,901, age range: 19-52 years). Among men, 15.2% reported homosexual behavior (ever), 11.5% said they had been sexually attracted to the same sex, and 6.4% said they were not heterosexual; the corresponding figures for women were 7.9, 10.6, and 3.5%. A continuous measure of childhood gender nonconformity (CGN) was sensitive to slight variations in homosexual attraction and behavior. In particular, among both men and women who identified as heterosexual, there were significant differences between 'complete' heterosexuals and those who admitted to only one or a few same-sex behaviors but no homosexual attraction. Among men, CGN scores distinguished between heterosexuals who admitted to same-sex behavior only and those who admitted to some homosexual attraction. The sexual subgroups also differed on a measure of gender atypicality in adulthood. Implications for developmental theories of sexuality are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-565
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Attraction
  • Childhood gender nonconformity
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)


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