We got these questions, many times in our Whatsapp study groups! No, is the answer to both questions. Let's find out why and lets find out much more information about what is Sex, Gender and Sexuality(Sexual Orientation)!
The article I’m going to write today is something we discussed in our Public Health class. This is a topic where our understandings are rather vague. Thus I thought of writing of an Article on it.
Sex, Gender and Sexuality! Let us first define our terms according world’s leading Organizations or Learned Associations who practice Evidence based Medicine and follows the Scientific System.
Sex – It is biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women (WHO). Later Intersex was also started to have considered where people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies(UN Office of High Commissioner of Human Rights)
Gender – This is socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women (WHO)
Sexuality – often called as Sexual Orientation refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes (American Association of Psychology).
Now we are done with defining our terms. Let us elaborate on our sub topics.
Sex is what you are born with and it defines totally biologically. For an example, if you have mainly the components of Male Reproductive System, you are a Male. And if you are born with Female reproductive system, you are a Female. If you are born with components of both sexes then you become an intersex person. This is biologically defined, and cannot be changed unless you surgically reassign it into another sex and become a trans-sexual.
Gender is how you identify yourself with. This is mostly social and psychological rather than biological. You may identify yourself as a Masculine person or a Feminine person despite what your reproductive organs or chromosomes state. Thus you can be biologically Man but Genderwise Feminine or the Vice versa in certain cases.
If you identify yourself as a Man and you feel you are a man, or identify yourself as a woman and you feel you are a woman, then you are called a Cisgender. Cis means on the same side. This is the majority of the world population.
If you identify yourself as a Man and you feel you are a woman, or identify yourself as a woman and you feel you are a man, then you are called a Transgender. Trans means crossed over.
Transgender and transsexual are often misunderstood. The difference between transgender and transsexual is that, transgenders do not do sex reassignment surgery to change their body. But mostly they dress differently as per the other sex than their own biological sex, whereas the transsexuals do change their sexual organs with sex reassignment surgery.
The role of gender has seen the emergence of several phenomena such as Feminism, Women’s Rights, and different definitions to rape and sex as well as Transgender rights, Right to identify gender etc.
Transvestite is another term for cross-dressing. This is not essentially related to one’s sexuality. It could or could not be related to how they feel themselves as. It’s mostly a form of admiration, accepting and wearing the fashion that is traditionally assigned for the other gender.
An important thing to notice is that “Gay” is not considered a gender or a sex at all. It is sexuality or a sexual orientation which we will consider later.
Sexuality (Sexual Orientation)
This is mainly about how you are romantically and sexually attracted to someone else. If you are attracted to the people of the opposite sex you are a Heterosexual. If you are attracted someone of the same sex then you are called Homosexual. If you are attracted to both sexes, you are called Bisexual. If you are NOT attracted to any of the sexes you are called Asexual. If you are attracted to people, despite their sex or gender, you are called a Pansexual. If you are attracted to more than 2 sexes or genders, but not some, then you are called a polysexual.
The most important factor to remember is, that Sexual orientation is totally a psychological factor about on to which type of persons that one is attracted romantically and sexually. It does not define how the person behaves, how they identify themselves, or how they dress or do fashion in public or private. For an example, there could be a homosexual man, who is manly and poses a strong image and there could be a heterosexual man who looks weak and does not stereotypically falls into the Masculine image.
- Majority of the human population is said to be heterosexual. And as much as 10% of the total population could belong to the non-heterosexual sexual orientation.
- The socially used English terms for a heterosexual men or women is Straight and the term for a homosexual man is Gay whereas the homosexual woman is termed as Lesbian.
- It is interesting to notice that the terms Transgender/Transsexual and Gay are often interchangeably used, whereas both are completely different from each other. Transgender/Transsexual is a gender and is how they feel about themselves, (only the selecting or not selecting the surgery making the difference between them) and Gay is a sexual orientation and is how they feel about others.
- The reason for why there is a spectrum of Genders and Sexualities is still a question posed to the scientists. Some do say it is about nature and is a problem of not resolving the Oedipus complex during the psychological development of the child. But the widely accepted scientific hypothesis is that is comes from the genetics or epigenetics and cannot be changed by sheer will of the person and they born with it. But since being homosexual makes them non-reproducing as there aren’t the meeting of different gametes, it is also questioned why it doesn’t wipe away from the human genome and population. But scientists claim, homosexual or non-heterosexual behavior which also seen in many other species of the biosphere, is another nature’s styles or forms or population control.
- As of 2016 April, there is no successfully proven significantly important peer-reviewed research published about the successful shift of one’s identified sexuality or sexual orientation. But the Sex can be altered using the sex reassignment surgeries.
- American Psychological Association is requesting the medical professionals to remove the stigma related to gender and sexual orientation and it no longer considers non-heterosexual behavior as a mental illness or a disorder (since 1972) and highly discourages the correction therapies for them to align them with majorly heterosexual society.
- Many countries in the world have adopted rules and regulations to protect men, against domestic violence and rape despite the popular myth that men cannot be raped.
- Marital rape against women is a criminal offence in many countries of the world, and poses even after the marriage the mutual-consent is required for the intercourse.
- Bullough, Vern L. Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993. ISBN 0812214315
- Haig, David (April 2004). "The Inexorable Rise of Gender and the Decline of Sex: Social Change in Academic Titles, 1945–2001"
- Transgender Rights (2006, ISBN 0816643121), edited by Paisley Currah, Richard M. Juang, Shannon Minter
- "What do we mean by "sex" and "gender"?" - World Health Organization.
- http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/sexual-orientation.aspx - American Psychological Association
- Udry, J. Richard (November 1994). "The Nature of Gender"
- Swaab, D.F. (2004). "Sexual differentiation of the human brain: relevance for gender identity, transsexualism and sexual orientation"
- Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF (December 2008). "A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity".
- "Case No. S147999 in the Supreme Court of the State of California, In re Marriage Cases Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4365
- Frankowski BL; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence (June 2004). "Sexual orientation and adolescents". Pediatrics
- Gail Wiscarz Stuart (2014). Principles and Practice of Psychiatric Nursing. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 502. ISBN 032329412X.
- "Same-sex Behavior Seen In Nearly All Animals, Review Finds". ScienceDaily.
- Rabin, Roni Caryn (23 January 2012). "Men Struggle for Rape Awareness". The New York Times.
- Kinsey, Alfred, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948
- Schilt, Kristen; Westbrook, Laurel (August 2009). "Doing Gender, Doing Heteronormativity. Gender Normals,' Transgender People, and the Social Maintenance of Heterosexuality"