Development of Sexual Orientation

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mittfh's picture

It's complicated...

(Disclaimer: I haven't read the above article - what follows is entirely my own opinion, based upon a rough knowledge of genetics [OK, I do have a BSc Biology...], reading accounts of those with personal experience of gender issues [i.e. BCTS authors!] and occasional dives into a certain online encyclopedia)

As with so much in biology, it's complicated! There are numerous factors involved in defining gender identity and sexual preference, including (i.e. the ones I can think of offhand):

Psychological identity - do you identify as Male, Female, somewhere in between or is it to some extent variable?
Physical appearance - again, a rather fluid concept - some parts of your body may appear masculine, others feminine, others androgynous - and it gets even more confusing for the intersexed...
Behaviour - to what extent do your behaviour / mannerisms compare with societal stereotypes?
Sexual preference (gender/physical appearance) and Sexual preference (gender/behaviour) - again, far more complicated than simply M/F/both/neither
Sexual preference (age) - younger/similar/older/multiple/variable?
Sexual preference (strength) - I suppose this could be a factor in both of the above categories

As with many aspects of human development, there are probably hundreds of genes at work here. What we ideally need is for the majority of society to start realising that biology (and indeed, science in general) is complicated and cannot be reduced to binary concepts (as typically and inaccurately portrayed in the media - especially with food/medicines: X will cure cancer! Y will give you cancer! Or with cosmetics - "Makes your skin feel younger" - based on 74% of 35 women agreeing with the statement...)[1]

Oh, and to ditch outdated pseudo-religious and paternalistic concepts, particularly those relating to and deriving from a perceived "special relationship" between humans and any particular deity, or perceived gender roles/niches within society.

[1] One day I might get around to blogging about media's inability/unwillingness to comprehend science in more detail...

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There are 10 kinds of people - those who understand binary, those who don't, and those who know this sig's in ternary.

While I am Muslim ...

My religion is moving more toward the study of science and less toward magical thinking.

I have always been extremely analytical, and mostly my religious thinking has been an effort to understand why what happened to me happened. I have finally figured out that God is not mad at me at all but that there are simply some very mean and twisted people out there.

There are enough similarities in my youth to the Garrido case that it has dredged up a lot of stuff, and I have spent a lot of time in tears of sympathy for her. In no way do I compare my suffering to the depth of hers.

I even had a hard look at BDSM in an effort to get what I needed out of a relationship. Well, I quickly found out that the safe BDSM people are not interested in a pseudo woman when they can get a real one to screw up. They found it an obstacle that I was seeking a permanent relationship, and I have come to understand that what I really want is someone who is affectionate and loving, but willing to "punish me" in play. I was not as twisted as I thought. :) I haven't been promiscuous. Maybe my problem with getting a man in a relationship is that I don't flirt enough, but I am trying to learn.

Well, you are right, there are all sorts of posible causative factors. We are now finding out that plastics are biological dynamite in the environment; producing all sorts of estrogin like compounds. I know of a Yahoo group that focuses on DES, though I think they really have little that is concrete. I was also a nuclear kid, Mom having been down wind of some of the testing in the 40's.

Another factor is that Mom wanted a girl very badly. My birth name was Gwinn, but it sounded like Gwen to everyone, my voice was always high, and mom dressed me like a girl through most of my toddler hood. I can still remember her saying that I made a beautiful little girl. Then when Cliff (stepfather) happened upon the scene his portrayal of the Male standard made me vow never to be like him.

Throughout my whole life, I was better off dealing with women than men. To me they smelled, were gross and were always seeking ways to pump their own egos. I worked construction as an Electrician for over 30 years, and was heavily into the super male scene; doing the most dangerous jobs. In retrospect, deep inside lurked a death wish, and I always felt that I was so feminine that I had lots to prove; though I never engaged in the Macho talk that men at lunch do. You know, My Pickup is best, I caught the biggest fish, and look at the tits on that bitch, yep, bet she's just aken fer a good reamin' To me, all that was repulsive.

I had not actually planned to come out. I was so much of an internet sex addict, that I was going to get secretly castrated to stop it. I'd just claim impotency and keep her happy "other" ways. I did and still do love her.

For a number of unrelated reasons, I was suicidal, got hospitalized and Hippa was not yet fully in use. Well, I wound up thrown out, on more psych drugs than you can carry in one hand, and in my deluded state went ahead and came out as a woman.

To be sure, I am much happier as a post op woman, but it was sure a painful path.

Khadija Gwen


I live in stealth

or rather I live as a female, because as far as I am concerned that's what I am. I used to be transsexual, but I consider I am now female - so was thus 'cured' by a combination of helpful doctors and lawyers. For the purposes of medical treatment, I would naturally inform any doctor I felt needed to know, but most others I feel don't need to.

For those who feel they need to tell the world, that's fine with me as long as they leave me out of it. I've achieved what I set out to do and don't feel a need to change the world - I discovered it wasn't the world that needed changing, just me.



The great thing about BCTS

apart from the stories which I enjoy, is the opportunity to learn from others in a non-threatening environment.

If this information had been available to me in the 1950's would life have been very different? Who knows?

We all, or almost all, need to feel valued and loved; a cuddle is often the icing on the cake. Most of us do all we can, up to and including denying our true selves, in order to be valued and loved.

As for gender and orientation, it still puzzles me that it is acceptable for most other medical conditions to be beyond our control - but when it comes to being our true gender, or having an orientation that doesn't fit social binary, it's 'our choice' and 'deviant'.

No wonder that so many of us live in stealth.


Until reliable research is

Until reliable research is done that demonstrates a clear link between gender views (identity, orientation, you pick the aspect(s)) and genetics, there will continue to be a belief that it is a mental issue only. Since most folks belive that mental issues are the failing of the individual (see literature on "fundamental attribution error" for example) most mental illnesses, not just gender-related issues, are and continue to be viewed as a failing of the individual rather than a condition to be fixed or a situation to be accepted--at least by the general public; hopefully most clinicians are now a bit better about it.

Being contemplative about Orientation

There is simply too much for me to review in one night, but the chapter called "Reparative Therapy" got my attention right away. I was a long time, very devout Christian, headed for seminary when my world came crashing in. I fought my T bent with every tool known to Christians and not surprisingly, none of it worked. Believe me, I absolutely love God and I was extremely disappointed that it did not. So, my conclusion is that if God did not heal my evil bent, then it must not be a problem to God. As soon as I began to relate my struggles to people in the church, they could not get rid of me soon enough. In retrospect, I think it was simply because the lack of my healing was a glaring indightment of that portion of their theology.

The whole idea of nature vs nurture is a long time discussion that will likely go on for far too long. From birth, there were incidents that pointed me to the place I am today. Am I a woman or a man; gay or straight or am I none of the above. I am not afraid to say that I am attracted to males. After all I am post op by a couple years, but like I said to someone the other day, I do not know what I would do if a naked girl with bit breasts crawled up in my lap. Does that make me bi? It is hard to say because I have yet to have any real sexual experience. I have had sex with one person in my life and that was my wife of 39 years.

Having been castrated and on Hormones for a while, sex is just not my central focus. Maybe I no longer have a sexual orientation. My biggest need is for someone, anyone to hold me close and tell me that it will be alright.

If you'd like to talk about this whole issue more, I am open to it. Please send me a PM and I will respond with my email and SKYPE account.

Many blessings

Khadija Gwen


I will respond privately

I will respond privately too, but to “respond to your response,” sorry, but I like to keep public comments at least a bit on the light side, there are as wide a variation in views regarding transgender issues as there are religious groups. I am pleasantly surprised when I find one that is open and welcoming, but there are just too many that seem to feel a need to “draw the line” and find transgender issues an easy line to draw. I will avoid a discussion of the absence or presence of god in the universe and merely point out that the role of religion from earliest times was to provide an umbrella to help human beings get along in groups and survive. Priests were the original scientists, helping to explain the world and how it works, so when I hear of yet another instance of a religious group excluding rather than finding ways to include I am disappointed to say the least.

I actually begin to see the end, or at least the narrowing of the range of issues where the “nature v nurture” can rage. Excluding situations where there is a clear genetic marker (e.g., Prader-Willi, Down Syndrome, etc.) if anything, it is becoming clear for most behavioral events that there are genetic features providing a propensity and the environment (learning, interactions, etc.) that offer the situations in which the behavior can occur. My best example is with respect to alcohol consumption. For Native Americans there was no access to alcohol so alcoholism was never an issue until they ran into us “palefaces.” We put alcohol into an environment and a social setting where there were no prohibitions, no rules. The result was that Native Americans drank to excess. Still, there is the genetic component which is that those that decided to stop could, unless they had a specific marker. Unfortunately, gender identity issues are not yet resolved, at least for human beings, although I did just hear of a recent study where gender identity of rats was apparently changed via genetic manipulation.

A lot of the available research on sexual as opposed to gender identification seems to suggest that early experiences have a strong impact on later sexual behavior. One of the problems we have is with “sexual offenders.” Aside from the problem that their sexual behavior is valued as good or bad by specific societies and other societies hold different values, meaning that which types of sexual behavior is accepted or rejected has little to do with genetics and more to do with issues of control; or in the past survival issues. There may yet be research that discovers a genetic link, especially for some of the “extremes” of sexual behavior, but for now, sexual interest seems to be one of the few issues with less genetic impact than most despite my comments about rats above. Interest in males, females or both as sexual partners seems to be to a significant, but still unquantifiable extent, a learned behavior. The problem is that unlearning those behaviors is rather difficult as there is that issue of pleasure. I find that the only ways to confirm a person’s sexual interests is to either watch them (not my thing, but it’s the only truly reliable method) or ask them (and hope they are being honest or even know the answer).

I hope these discussions are of value and encourage others to think about these issues. We’ll see.

I knew when I was 4-5

I offered to do this via email because so many on this site have read my talke of woe. However there are lots of new people around,...
I am still very religious, (a very moderate Muslimah) but because of my experiences first as a tg and now as a woman, I am much mellowed. It has all made me a better person. One of the things I learned early on in my experience as a T person is that People seem to occupy positions along a continuum with the religious at the left end and the scientific at the right end. While the process of realization, coming out, transition and finally emerging as a woman, or man; is painful beyond anything I ever thought that I'd experience, I now feel as though I can freely occupy perhaps the whole continuum comfortably. There is a creator, but he probably has much less religious fervor than we do.

I knew that I was not like the men in my family even before I knew there were boys and girls. I still vividly remember the night when I had the "epiphany". We were all sitting around the wood stove in our early 50's farm home. It plays in my memory like a short film. I sat in the only warm place in the house. There was no Television and we were waiting for a radio program to come on. I think it was something like "Dick Tracy", or "The Green Shadow". Please forgive my failing memory. There were 10 of us in that circle, and I remember looking one at a time as my Mom, Stepfather, and my siblings. As I looked, somehow my little mind sort of graded them, I liked my Mom, and my step sister, but I did not like my brothers, step brothers, and least liked my bridge troll step father. Somehow believing I had a choice. I decided that I was most like Mom and my step sister, and was not at all like the males in my family.

I do not know if it was during that event or a later one but I vividly remember going into my step sisters room and putting on her skirt. I then walked out into the living room and sat down with the family. Well, as one might expect, the reaction of the family was swift and violent. My step father was an evil force in my life and that night began the constant beatings, tauntings and harassment that would last until I tried to kill him when I was around 15. That was around 1962, and in a very few years I would be serving in that fools errand that we called the Vietnam war. I did not serve in country.

Somehow, through all the beatings and trauma, I forgot that I was a girl, though I always knew something was horribly wrong with me; something missing; not complete. I was never attracted to males at the time. I had dutifully married, had children and gotten a job. I will say that my feelings about my family, in retrospect, were more like a mothers. I loved them and wanted to take care of them. I do not understand the dynamics, but in spite of the fact that we had lots of lusty sex, she was more like my daughter than anything. She had emerged from a situation even more abusive than the one I had endured. So, most of our marriage was about healing her, and seeing to it that she was educated and succesful in all that she attempted. Today, she is extremely successful and much sought after as a health professional, though since I finally came out, she nor any of my family have any contact with me. “A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart,and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

Some how after my transition and surgeries, I have become attracted to men. Perhaps my mind is simply too damaged to understand the enormity of my stupidity. My shrink says that I have an abnormal relationship with pain and pleasure. Maybe I just need someone strong to dominate me. Perhaps that is the only way I can feel security.

I'd kill myself right now, but somehow people keep coming into my life who somehow, inexplicably seem to need my help more than I need death.



Renee M's picture

Non-heterosexual Orientation?

This group(?) of modules is mainly about sexual orientation. Who you love or are attracted to not who you are.

I thought: Oh, cool! I guess I'll find out how sexual orientation starts and how het and bi and gay orientations differ. Huh. It doesn't start out with research in rats or little kids or puberty, it starts with homosexuality. Doesn't heterosexuality develop? Doesn't bisexuality or pansexuality develop?

This might be helpful, but mis-titled. Gender orientation (would identity be a better term?) is obviously different from sexual orientation. Calling both orientation confuses the issues.

The fact that different issues are lumped together and that so called "normal" behavior is not included, makes me think this started as part of a "deviant behavior" course. Yeah, I have an old text book for such a course.

Just me being old and suspicious.

hugs, Renee

Hugs and Bright Blessings,

You could very well be

You could very well be right. Certainly, it's not going to answer all--possibly even most--of the questions that people here ask. Unfortunately, those answers don't really exist yet. However, from my perspective this is a relatively bias-free summary of current research and it never hurts to know what the people making decisions about you are--or at least should be--thinking.

With respect to causes, there continues to be an ongoing debate with people arguing either nature or nurture, which is funny when you think about it as just about everything else in nature that isn’t “black and white” seems to be proving to be a combination of both. For example, items like hair color or height seem to be clearly genetic, but almost everything that involves thought seems to be both (e.g., risk taking, anxiety, alcoholism, and smoking, to name just a few).

The term “orientation,” at least as it's used here, tends to describe belief structures. Such structures could include identity, preferences, motivations, etc. It may not be a perfect term, but in psychology few terms seem to have completely clear and unambiguous meanings. It’s one of the reasons why it’s so important that there be research and that the results be properly evaluated, considered and interpreted. If you want to be suspicious, question whether the findings are being properly interpreted. We should all be suspicious about that given the tendency for humans to use rationalization to interpret things as they wish rather than how they are.


They just don't get it mew, not all of us relate biology with identity >> I'm a woman, I am not a man that is living as a woman mew, I'm just a woman, I'm special yeah but in a different way than my biology mew. I'm unique and proud of it ^^

I know who I am, I am me, and I like me ^^
Bisexual, transsexual, gamer girl, princess, furry that writes horror stories and proud ^^

I know who I am, I am me, and I like me ^^
Transsexual, gamer, little, princess, furry and proud :D

I was hoping to see a bit more

But, I guess I shouldn't have been. At least what was there was clear.

It bugged me a bit for it to say that Christine Jorgensen was a MAN that was one of the first to have a Sex CHANGE operation... *sighs* I guess I have to expect that. (While I may have successfully functioned as a man, as far as I'm concerned, I never was one - except, perhaps genetically.)


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