Gender Identity And Sexual Orientation Essay

3756 words - 15 pages

In today’s day in age, different sexualities and gender identities are quickly becoming more accepted in mainstream society. Despite this change, there are many people who believe that having a different sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice that is frowned upon. In order to refute this belief, research and biology of the brain is necessary. Researching the brain on the basis of sexuality is a fairly new topic of discussion because it is somewhat difficult and confusing. This paper will explore the different identities of gender, sex and sexual orientation and the main biological reasons behind these. There is also some validity of different sexual orientations and identities through the evidence of sexual disorders like Klinefelter’s and Turner’s Syndrome and gender dysphoria.

In order to discuss the biology of gender identity and sexual orientation, it is necessary to first examine the differences between multiple definitions that are often mistakenly interchanged: sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Sexual orientation is defined by LeVay (2011) as “the trait that predisposes us to experience sexual attraction to people of the same sex as ourselves, to persons of the other sex, or to both sexes” (p. 1). The typical categories of sexual orientation are homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual. Vrangalova and Savin-Williams (2012) found that most people identify as heterosexual, but there are also groups of people that identify as mostly heterosexual and mostly gay within the three traditional categories (p. 89). This is to say that there are not three concrete groups, but sexual orientation is a continuum and one can even fluctuate on it over time. LeVay (2011) also defines gender as “the set of mental and behavioral traits that differ…between males and females” (p. 37). Oftentimes, gender and sex are used interchangeably when they should not be. Gender is not based on physical attributes. Sex is the word that should be used when speaking about biological characteristics. So, based on the definition of gender by LeVay, gender identity is one’s personal attitude towards being more male or female.

It is normally thought that gender is something that is developed at birth and is something that is set in stone. More recently in time, people have started to express that they feel that their gender identity is different and separate from their sex at birth. Egan and Perry are considered very important researchers in the field of gender identity and psychology. The two proposed that gender identity is multi-faceted and is made up of five different components that are generally independent of one another. The categories are as follows: knowing one belongs to one gender or another, how much they feel they belong to the category, how happy they are with that gender, how much pressure they feel to conform to gender stereotypes and how much they feel their sex is superior to the opposite (Carver, Yunger &...

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