Page name: Sexuality and Gender [Exported view] [RSS]
2009-12-04 23:00:02
Last author: BarleySinger
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<img:>Sexuality and Gender<img:>


Here it is at long last. A wiki page that explains gender issues and sexuality to those who want to know.

<img:>If I get any of this stuff wrong I will need references, so please send me a URL with the infomation, so I can figure out how to change this wiki to match current science.

<img:>If you have any ideas on areas to cover that are not here, just let me know in the comment section at the bottom of the wiki.

What gender "is" and "is not"

Gender is complex. Most people think that it is not complex, but that is because most people are not very well educated about the science of gender, and how gender issues are expressed in nature. The truth is that we live in a natural world with : bisexual swans, bisexual dolphins, gay rodents, lizards and fish that can change their gender back and forth. Most people do not know that nature has this kind of variation in it. They do not know because people were too afraid to tell the truth for a long time.

For years naturalists were afraid to tell the truth about the things they observed. Imagine being a scientist in a world where you could not even speak frankly about sex, say a hundred years ago, and finding out that there was a species of geese in which the pair bond was always between two males, and the females in that species only showed up long enough to mate and lay fertile eggs. 

In a world controlled by strict gender roles where being gay was a crime (which could get you killed), publishing this kind of information would end your university career as a biologist or naturalist. So would reporting the fact that dolphins often form strong male to male bonds that are sexual in nature (and that dolphins often engage in sex play with the human researchers that they come to know in the wild). There is even footage of two male octopi of different species mating with each other. Nature has a lot of sexual diversity. This is most definitely *not* a world in which all species have *ONLY* male/female sexual relationships.

Because this kind of information was suppressed for so very long, most people have gone on living in a "world view" of fixed gender roles...a world where "outies" and "innies" are expected to have one and ONLY one kind of relationship. However, that world is not reality and it only exists inside of peoples heads, and sometimes in their religious texts.

So, gender is not just a matter of a person being born with an X chromosome or a Y chromosome (or even a penis or a vagina). There are many people born who have a physical gender that is not the same as their genetic gender; people who in some cases are completely fertile, and in other cases are not fertile. Life is full of variations, and we need to be willing to accept the truth that nature has handed us, instead of trying to label people as "perverted" because of how they were born.

The Basics of Sex

Before we get any further it would be a good idea to explain the basic facts of sexuality to those who do not know them as you never know who is reading this page. Besides, you never know what information was left out of your "Sex Ed" classes. Try these pages :

this link does not work yet Human Sexuality


Many Factors

There are many different factors that determines a persons "gender". 

<img:>genetic gender - what your DNA says your gender is. The determining factor here is most often the presence or absence of a "Y" chromosome. Females are most often XX. Males are most often XY. There are other other variations that can happen.

<img:>physical gender - do you have a penis, a vagina, or some of both (intersex). This is most often determined by that "Y" chromosome, but physical gender is affected by other factors than just genetics.

<img:>Masculine or Feminine - In terms of traditional ideas about masculine, where do you fall?

<img:>mental gender - the gender of your brain. This is determined (according to research) by hormones that the mother sends to the fetus, while a fetus is in the uterus.

<img:>gender(s) of attraction - A common way of expressing this is where on the "Kinsey Scale" a person is. The first serious sex researcher was professor Kinsey. He approached human sexuality from the standpoint of science and statistics without any moral judgments being attached. The "Kinsey Scale" rates your gender of attraction on a simple scale (from 0 to 6) based on how attracted one is to their own gender and to the opposite gender. According to Kinsey, most people fall in the middle of the scale (for example he found that 37% of all men experienced orgasm in a sexual activity with another man at some time in their life). So much for the idea that being completely heterosexual is the average. Many sex research projects since his have verified the basic idea (with variations in the statistics) which shows that very few people are "completely straight" or "completely gay".

Here is a link about the Kinsey Scale

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Homosexuality - Straight, Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual

As noted in the Kinsey Scale, some human beings (and members of other animal species) are sexually attracted to other members of the same physical gender the opposite gender, or both. Some of these people are only interested in people of the same gender, some have only a minimal attraction on on of the genders, and some are more equally attracted to both genders.


What is Homophobia

All phobias are unreasonable fears. A person who is acrophobic is afraid of being in a high place, even when they logically know that they are completely safe. Phobias are not reasonable fears.

Homophobia is an unreasoning fear, dislike or distaste for all things homosexual, often to the point that people avoid anything they they believe might make them "appear homosexual" (whatever they think that means). Homophobia often comes with a strong fear that "others will think that one is a homosexual", and a strong need to prove that one is not. The truth is that gay people do not behave in any manner that stands out as "homosexual" other than behaviors that they might pick up from hanging out in a subculture where those behaviors are accepted as being "gay culture".

Most people these days have heard words like "gay", "faggot", "fairy", "lesbo" or "dyke used as an insult. These (and other similar insults) are very common elements of homophobia, as they are used not just to isult people, but also to present the idea that there is something innately wrong with being attracted to members of ones own gender. 


What does "intersex" mean

Intersex means being born with a mixture of BOTH physical genders. This means that a person was born with ambiguos sex organs (with male and female characteristics). One gender may be more physically dominant that the other, but this is not necesarily the same as the gender that the person is mentally. More and more intersex people are being born all the time, partially because of the "hormone mimicking" actions of some types of pollution.

Being "intersex" does not make a person gay, bisexual or transgendered. It means that they have birth defects which may or may not be helped with medication and surgery - just like a person born with any other birth defect. However, many intersex people were huge shock to the doctors and to their parents, and their condition was swept under the rug with immediate surgeries to force their bodies to conform to am absolute view of physical gender that that is often not the best answer. The best medical practices these days involve testing the patient heavily to make certain that the correct gender is chosen (if surgery is chosen as an option). In the past this has been a horror story.

Many people grew up not knowing that they had been born intersex, and in some cases grew up with "Gender Disphoria" because the wrong gender was surgically assigned to them when they were infants, instead of waiting until there was enough clear evidence of gender.

What does "Transgendered" and "Gender Dysphoria" mean

Inside of your head you have a picture of who you are. If you are like most people, the gender you are in your head matches the gender of your body. Psychological testing can tell the difference between an oestrogenised brain an androgenised brain. There are physical differences that show up on medical scans of brain activity.

For some people "physical gender" and "mental gender" do not match. The best research today indicates that "Gender Dysphoria" is not a psychological problem (although it is still classified as being one...just like homosexuality), but is instead the result of "errors" in which there is a difference in the sex hormones that are sent by the mother to the fetus in the womb. 

All fetus start out gender neutral. The fetus contains a structure that has four ducts that can develop into male and/or female genitalia (or both) depending on the hormonal signals that are sent. Normally a couple of months into development, male embryos are exposed to a burst of hormones that tells the fetus to develop as a male. Females get the same sort of thing. 

Transgendered people are people who live life as the gender that is in their mind. They live according to a mental" gender that does not match their physical gender. They may or may not get surgery or hormone treatments. A person with "Gender Dysphoria" is not necessarily gay or bisexual. For instance, a Male to Female (MF) transgendered person, may very well only be interested in men - which would make them "straight" as far as their mental gender is concerned.

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2005-09-14 [itoe]: This is a very informative, unbiased, and in-depth discussion of these topics. Certainly, there is more information here than I have ever seen. I've never even heard of gender dysphoria before. I'm definitely looking to see what other information will be presented here. I also feel that there are a lot of people who could benefit from what you have here. Too many people are too poorly informed about these topics.

2005-09-14 [fire sign]: This is really good infromation. You should put the link up everywhereeeeee so that everyone will come and read this. They might just leave better.

2006-02-05 [Estantia]: I too hadn't heard of this before, and certainly could put an interesting slant on discussions in future, I don't wish to be ignorant.

2006-04-12 [Slinky]: yes, this is a good concept for an informative wiki. i especially like the links, as you will doubtless find many skeptics. to add: i can't cite this, but in all the glbt events i've gone to, they've always defined gender as what you see yourself as (the mental aspect) and sex as the physical attributes.

2006-08-17 [Viperess]: This is a great site. I have to give the link to my oldest so she can read it also.So many tell her she is crazy and such for her feelings, but the way you ex[plain things may help her feel better about how she lives her life. Thank you.

2007-06-26 [Zab]: I think there is a typo and a missing " under ''what is homophobia''.
The text is very interesting, some I had a slight idea of, some I've never heard of. But it's very good to know. :)

2010-03-19 [BarleySinger]: Unfortunately there are some changes going on in "jargon" right now. Some of the terminology for

* people who feel that their mental picture of "self" is differen than they physical gender
* those born with ambiguous gender

are shifting around again. Some people (professionals and others) are trying to reserve the term "transgendered" for those who chose not to get gender reassignment surgery (most especially not getting the final "male to female" snip). Honestly, given how badly that surgery is being done in most of the world, it is no great wonder that very few people are willing to exchange a penis that works, for a vagina that has no sensation at all (or worse that always hurts, always weeps urine (or other bodily fluids), cannot tolerate being touched...etc). l 

And worse, the increase in homophobia in the USA with all those laws made just to outlaw gay marriage, has a bunch of very frightened trans people, who are trying to keep their own marriages legal (no matter which gender(s) they might fancy) by distancing themselves from homosexuality. 

Mind you, homosexuality and being trans are two very different things. Homosexuality and gender(s) of attraction have nothing to do with being trans, or (so far as we know) with being intersex. It is very possible that the kinds of very hard questions that people have to ask themselves and work through, when they are very thoroughly attracted to people of the same gender, or when they are so obviously trans that they have always dreamt of themselves as being a very different gender than that of their body, are very likely to make them more truthful about their own gender(s) of attraction. Unless, of course, knowing the truth makes them so frightened that they are willing to do just about anything to keep that truth a secret.

Unfortunately, a lot of the "jargon" (special terminology) that these frightened people are grabbing at come from some very dubious, if not downright bigoted, sources. The same shrinks who are in that small minority who STILL claim that all trans people are just mentally ill (moving arguments backward several decades at least)are the people they are using as authorities. These shrinks insist that a huge number of trans people have some sort of weird sexual fetish, that makes them "get off" on the idea of looking like women. Now there might be a few people out there like this, but most trans folk have VERY bad body image problems, and dislike the way they look regardless of their physical gender (even after surgery). It takes decades for a person to have any chance of "unlearning" that much self loathing. The idea that a person who hates to see their body nude (even after surgery) is somehow getting off by being female, is just plain nonsensical.

Also take note that there are places in the world where hompophobia is very bad and society has no room for gay people or bi people at all. You can get killed in Iran for having sex with those of the same gender, but the Mullahs have no trouble at all with transgendered/trans-sexual people in Iraq. None at all. Why?...because they consider it a medical issue. They place *ALL* trans folk into the same medical category as children who are born "inter-sex" (people born with physical gender attributes of both genders) and believe it to be a birth defect. The fact that the gender attributes that a person has, are are all in that persons "mental image" of who they are, is not a problem for them. As a result there is a sub-group of gay men in Iraq who (contrary to the practice post 1970s in Western Nations) go ahead have gender reassignment surgery so that they can have sex with men (and get legally married to one), without public disapproval. Unfortunately this leaves a Male to Female trans person, who is only attracted to women, with the choice of not having surgery and living a life of internal long term depression....or HAVING the surgery to go female, and never being able to marry a women (or for that matter, having enjoyable sex, without the risk of being executed).

So in Iran being trans is considered a correctable birth defect, but having romantic feeling for a person of the same gender is a crime punishable by death.

A less drastic version of this line of thinking is the one being adopted by some rather frightened pre and post op trans folk...who do not want to lose the ability to stay married (or get married) to the person they love. Jumping onto any type of homophobic "bandwagon", seems to me to be VERY counter productive to those who are trans, but then I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures, and frightened anbd desperate people can do things that are not very nice or very bright.

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