Does Testosterone Make You Gay? Scientists have tried for years to determine the cause of human sexuality, but female-to-male transsexuals and roided male bodybuilders may have already figured it out

Sanjana Friedman May 15, 2024 On Evolutionary, a bodybuilding forum, one guy puts it like this: “I ran Trenbolone [a synthetic androgen] for the first time the last 15 weeks… after a month of random sex hookups [with women] I started getting more weird feelings where it wasn’t good enough for me so I decided to download some gay apps on my phone and started hooking up with other guys and shemales [which] brought me so much satisfaction.”

The phenomenon he’s referring to — tren-induced homosexual behavior — is a widely documented side effect of anabolic steroids in bodybuilder forums. It’s so common, in fact, that it’s even inspired a rhyme: “More Tren, More Men.” Scientific consensus suggests sexuality is the stable byproduct of interactions between genetic, hormonal and environmental factors present in the womb and in early childhood — but the anecdotal experience of steroid-taking bodybuilders and female-to-male (FtM) transmen who take cross-sex hormones suggest something simpler. Testosterone makes you gay.

Specifically, the claim goes, high doses of synthetic androgens like testosterone or trenbolone (tren), an anabolic steroid, can produce strong, persistent and, occasionally, exclusive sexual attraction to males, regardless of whether the person taking the hormones previously identified as gay — or even bisexual.

On Reddit, one FtM trans man describes how he identified as a lesbian and only slept with women for over a decade before coming out as trans, taking testerone and becoming predominantly male-attracted. “Literally every sexual fantasy I have now is with a dude, every person I get a crush on is a dude.”

This kind of experience is so common in the trans world it’s become a meme — “T made me gay.” “Testosterone is making me gayer: I just want dick. All the time. I used to only be into women. Wtf,” reads one post with over 1,500 upvotes on r/ftm, a subreddit for trans men. Commenters concur. “The cis gay to trans gay pipeline is very real,” writes one user, referencing the fact that many lesbians find themselves exclusively attracted to males after taking high doses of testosterone. “I call it the ‘3 Hs of Testosterone’: hungry, horny, homosexual,” writes another.

The story is similar in the world of doping bodybuilders. Derek Munro, the YouTuber behind More Plates, More Dates, a fitness channel with almost 2 million subscribers, has a widely-viewed video (“He Took Tren and Became Gay? Science Explained”) inspired by a popular Reddit post titled “Why the fuck is tren turning me homosexual?” which details a tren user’s newfound interest in sex with men. Elsewhere on Reddit, amid one tren user’s detailed story about how steroids made him routinely binge on cocaine, alcohol, and benzos, he slips in that, after breaking up with his girlfriend, he “started hitting on her gay friend, for banter at first but the Tren made it weird and flirtatious… Tren actually made me get gay feelings for this man.” They eventually slept together.

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Your email here... Sign up for free When speculating about what drives these sexuality changes, users generally fall into one of two camps: those who think synthetic androgens merely bring out latent sexual desires and those who think the drugs produce them. The first view is particularly popular on trans forums, where people often claim their new attraction to men is a byproduct of feeling more comfortable with their appearance post-transition. “A lot of us are very dysphoric about being in straight relationships with men as women,” one person explains, “Once we become more comfortable in our bodies and are perceived as men, that can unlock other stuff we didn’t know about ourselves.” Another, who identifies as a “former lesbian,” adds: “I think I was always a little bi but dating women always felt safer, especially because there isn’t a set power dynamic like in hetero relationships.” Perhaps, this line of thinking goes, the testosterone-driven libido simply leaves no room for sexual ambiguity.

Others, both on trans and bodybuilder forums, believe synthetic androgens actually made them attracted to men. “I have been in multiple relationships and was sexually active with cisgender females before taking testosterone. I don’t see how anything except the testosterone could have affected [my sexuality],” writes one trans man. On bodybuilder forums, users often discuss how the libido-boosting effects of tren, which is at least three times more potent than synthetic testosterone, may have somehow changed the objects of their sexual attraction. “A fair amount of tren kinks [like gay sex] stem from the extreme libido boost it gives people,” writes one user. Another puts it more directly: “[On tren] I’m horny. And I’ll fuck anything.”

There is some scientific evidence supporting hormone-induced sexuality shifts, though it’s often based on studies with small sample sizes. On the trans side, a 2017 study of 122 trans men from San Francisco found that 69% attributed testosterone use to new sexual behaviors and 49% reported changes in their sexual attraction after taking testosterone for hormone-replacement therapy. And though only around 7% of those surveyed had a male partner (either cisgender or an MtF trans woman) before starting testosterone, almost 40% reported having one after taking T. Another 2013 study of 605 FtMs found 40% reported a testosterone-induced shift in sexual orientation, though it’s not clear all of these involved new male attraction. (For further evidence the effect is real, Folx Health, an app that provides virtual consultations and prescriptions for the gender dysphoric, lists sexuality change as one of the “myths” about taking testosterone — alongside several other well-documented negative side effects.)

On the bodybuilder side, evidence is more mixed. Scientists have long speculated that lower testosterone levels make men gay. In the 1970s, several studies emerged that purported to identify correlations between lower levels of testosterone and luteinizing hormones (which trigger testosterone production in men) and homosexual behavior, though a subsequent meta-analysis found this evidence inconclusive. A more recent study based on over 17,000 participants found homosexual men are significantly more likely to use anabolic-androgenic steroids (like tren) than heterosexual men, but there hasn’t been a conclusive study showing these steroids can induce attraction.

But regardless of what peer-reviewed research says, steroid-induced homosexuality is already an accepted truth on the internet. If the phenomenon has gotten relatively little mainstream coverage, it may be because it complicates orthodoxies both for those who claim homosexual orientation is always fixed at birth (a core contention of many early gay-rights activists) and for those who claim it’s always psychosocial. Reality is messier than theory. And if one thing is clear, it’s that for some, more tren = more men.