Impact of environment upon gender identity and sexual orientation: A lesson for parents of children with intersex or gender confusion

Peter A. Lee, Christopher P. Houk

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations


Two histories of physically normal men with persistent gender issues highlight the major impact played by parental input on the sexual and gender development of children. Both men had been subjected to firm, harsh behavior modification by their parents, particularly their mothers, during childhood in response to effeminate behavior. While both men continue to manifest major gender/sexual issues as adults, their outcomes have been dramatically different. The first man takes female hormones and denies any satisfaction from his sexuality. This individual remains convinced that he has female internal sexual organs and monthly internal menstrual bleeding. Although he has a career, he has become alienated from his family and is a social cripple. The second man has a successful career, lives a heterosexual life with his children and wife of 20 years and is involved in his community. He is visually attracted to men and remains obsessed with male pornography. This individual credits his mother with directing him toward a successful heterosexual life, which he feels has prevented the emotional burden of an active homosexual life. These two cases illustrate the tremendous influence played by environment and parental input on the sexual perspectives of developing children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-630
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2005
Externally publishedYes



  • Gender identity
  • Parental influence
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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