Bullying and queerphobia literally change queer people’s genetics, affecting their offspring

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10/17/2021

Numerous studies have shown how bullying and queerphobia affect LGBTQ people’s physical health, emotional well-being and social functioning. But scientific research on the effects of ongoing trauma suggest that anti-LGBTQ environments can literally alter queer people’s genetics, affecting their offspring for generations afterward. This is because of something called epigenetics. While the field of genetics studies the makeup of a person’s DNA (or their genomes), the field of epigenetics studies how that DNA makeup gets expressed in a person’s body (their phenotypes). Ants can help illustrate how epigenetics work, as queer journalist Daniel Villarreal explained: “Epigenetics basically states that similar genes can express themselves in different ways based on external circumstances. For example, epigenetic studies of ants have shown that if an ant colony is hungry, the queen will give birth to more worker ants, but if the colony is under attack, she’ll give birth to more warrior ants. In both cases, ants’ genetic makeup [their DNA genomes] are exactly the same. The only difference is how they get expressed [their epigenetic phenotypes]. Warrior ants will be bigger and more aggressive, whereas worker ants will be smaller and better at finding food.” A person’s epigenetics can be affected by numerous outside and environmental factors such as diet, pollution, illness, aging and drug use. The end results can be expressed through a person’s physical appearance, personality, mental issues and susceptibility to diseases. It can also affect those factors in a person’s children and grandchildren.

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