Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Sexual Orientation in Relation to Gender Identity

What does it mean to say that someone is heterosexual or homosexual? Well, technically, it means that a person is either attracted to the same sex or opposite sex. This categorization has many underlying assumptions that I wish to address in this post.

From my understanding and the experiences of people in the LGBT community there are some complications that arise. Let's say a guy says: "I am heterosexual" does this mean he is attracted to girls, or does it mean he is attracted to the opposite sex?! The distinction might seem insignificant for most people, but in reality there is a difference. This difference is especially clear when we consider transgendered individuals.

Transgendered individuals are born in some biological sex, however, their biological sex does not match their gender identity, so they change their biological sex through sex-reassignment operations. So let's look at the question once again. A guy says: "I am heterosexual!", but at a later point of time he changes his biological sex to female. Would you expect this person to be attracted to men or women?! If we go by the definition, and say that person is heterosexual, this means that since now the person is a female, then she must be attracted to men.

But what if she is still attracted to women?! It is important to notice that both scenarios actually happen in real life. Some transgendered people experience a change in the gender they are attracted to, others are not affected.

Now in the case that the person remains attracted to women, it would seem that the person in question was not a heterosexual, but simply female-sexual. In other words, this person is attracted to women regardless of their own biological sex. However, there are also cases when people are heterosexuals or homosexuals, and when their biological sex changes, so does their preference for sexual attraction.

There are studies that show homosexual men inherit their attraction to men from their heterosexual mother, and that homosexual women inherit their attraction to women from their heterosexual father. Those studies imply that for some people their orientation is more of female-sexual or male-sexual rather than homo/heterosexual. And many transgendered people experienced this.

On the other hand, there are cases where a homosexual person goes under sex-reassignment operation, and the outcomes is that their preference changed to match that of their new gender!! In other words, they were attracted to the same sex before and after transitioning... And of course, there are cases where people change from monosexuals to bisexuals after the transition!!

Another complication is whether sexual orientation is defined by biological sex, or sexual expression (ie. masculinity and femininity). Is the person attracted to the sex, or the feminine/masculine "energy"?! For example, would a heterosexual man be attracted to an effeminate man or masculine woman more?! Again, people's reactions seem to vary. Some people seem to be attracted more to femininity and masculinity regardless of biological sex, while others seem more oriented toward biological sex regardless of the "energy" the person has. Others seem to be attracted to more complicated mixing of those phenomena.

For example, there are cases when guys are attracted to tom-boy girls (only?), and other cases when girls are attracted to effeminate guys (only?). So some people might experience cases where they are attracted to a sort of energy that is different from the biological sex they prefer! What would you call such individuals?! Would you go with the biological sex they prefer?! Or the sexual expression they prefer?!

And then you can look at this issue from the other way around. If a tom-boy girl is attracted to men, what does this make of her?! Homosexual or heterosexual?!

PS: monosexual means either homosexual or heterosexual (ie. attracted to one gender, but not both)


Carnal Porridge said...

Hi! I was looking around for bloggers who are interested in polyamory and I stumbled across you. I look forward to reading more.

On this particular subject...this is a damn fine article I read recently, recommended by a trans man I work with: http://tranarchism.com/2010/11/26/not-your-moms-trans-101/

Take care, and come visit me at carnalporride.blogspot.com

Kathie said...

sexism, homophobia and transphobia are also among the interesting facets in the understanding of sexual orientation.