Gender and Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation, or sexual identity, refers to the way that men and women identify their most profound sexual attractions. In broad terms, an attraction to a person of the same sex is homosexuality; an attraction to a person of the opposite sex is heterosexuality. What is meant by the term sexual orientation?
Sexual orientation, or sexual identity, refers to the way that men and women identify their most profound sexual attractions. In broad terms, an attraction to a person of the same sex is homosexuality; an attraction to a person of the opposite sex is heterosexuality. While these are the predominant categories in our society, it’s widely acknowledged that some individuals are attracted to both sexes, an orientation referred to as bisexuality.
In his pioneering studies, sexuality researcher Alfred Kinsey, ScD, theorized a continuum of sexual orientation expressed as a seven-item scale. The Kinsey continuum helped pave the way for a less monolithic view of sexual orientation, in which both homosexuality and bisexuality are seen as a part of the breadth of human sexuality.
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What are the categories of the Kinsey Sexuality Scale?
The seven categories are as follows: 1. exclusively heterosexual; 2. predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual; 3. predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual; 4. equally heterosexual and homosexual; 5. predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual; 6. predominantly homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual; 7. exclusively homosexual.Recently, it has been suggested that these tendencies may change over time, with people expressing bisexual tendencies at one point in their lives and heterosexuality or homosexuality at another.

Is sexual orientation determined biologically, or is it a matter of social conditioning?
Research suggests that sexual orientation is a largely biological function. There is, for example, a study of pairs of twins separated at birth who turned out to be homosexual despite having been raised in totally different environments. Many homosexual men and women report that they had a clear sense of same-sex attraction at an early age. Further, geneticists have located a gene that is allegedly linked to male homosexuality, and some neuroscientists believe there are differences in the brain that may account for a physiological basis of sexual orientation. There may also be cultural and sociological influences in the mix; although it’s important to note that children raised by same-sex parents are no more likely to have a homosexual orientation than children raised by a heterosexual couple. The research on this subject is far from complete.

Is bisexuality is a biological condition?
Some people want to believe a person must be either homosexual or heterosexual and that anyone who claims to be bisexual is actually making a choice. But as the pioneering sexuality researcher Alfred Kinsey suggested and as more recent studies have shown, some people find themselves strongly attracted to both sexes and report feeling frustrated by social norms that characterize this as a self-indulgent or deliberately rebellious choice.

How many people are gay or bisexual?
No study has ever provided a totally credible answer. In the National Health and Social Life Survey, which was published in 1994, less than 5% of men and women identified themselves as bisexual or homosexual. Slightly larger percentages reported having same-sex fantasies. Many of those who work in this area of research, however, point out that the strong stigma associated with homosexuality skews the accuracy of such surveys. Surveys suggest people living a heterosexual lifestyle at present will identify themselves as heterosexual despite a past history of homosexual attractions and behavior.

What is meant by the terms transsexual and cross-dresser?
A transsexual is someone who views his or her gender as being the opposite of what their anatomy dictates: for example, someone born with male genitals who nonetheless feels he is a woman. Transsexuals often use medication or surgery to alter their bodies, and they may also choose to wear clothing of the gender with which they identify. Far more common is cross-dressing, or transvestism, which simply means dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex. Cross-dressing is a behavior associated with men and women of all sexual orientations. It can be a form of caricature, a sort of ritual, or an attempt to attract members of the same sex.


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Submitted On Mar 23, 2015. Viewed 491 times.

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