( TT Ahead... )First, let us establish the standard definition of sexual developement and gender being used in the explanations to follow. There's much we are still discovering on sexual developement and sexual identity, but what we do know is that sexuality is most likely genetic and that certain genetic switches are flipped due to either being dominant or being sensitive to conditions in the womb enviroment. By that I mean the hormonal cascade that takes a fetal body from the default female template to become a fully viable female or viable male based on the chromosome makeup. It is under this definition of development and the sexual definitions below that the following opinions on evolutionary placement are offered. You need not take anything as gospel. I'm mean "dammit Spock, I'm a researching writer and sexual activist, not a doctor!"
~ Defined as a woman who is sexually and romatically attracted only
to other women. I don't know how I feel about the only, I'd prefer to say "predominanty", but I don't make the rules...yet.
By the above standard definition, a woman--despite how feminine she personally feels--would have been "masculinized" during development and sexualized as more male than female.
I don't believe this is an accident or mistake in this case, nor when it happens in reverse. "Homosexuality" happens too consistantly in a population not to serve a evolutionary purpose. Most likely, same-sex attraction assures a segment of the population is always available to help ensure viable offspring reach maturity, without necessarily having personal biological offspring in direct competition. A biological nudge toward the "village to raise a child" mentality if you will, since the number of same-sex couples with children prove that same-sex attraction does not nullify maternal/paternal instinct.
Yes, of course, we have same-sex couples having their own biological children more and more. Modern science and ingenuity doesn't mean that evolution was inefficent in choosing this method of ensuring offspring survival.
~ Defined as a man who is sexually and romantically attracted only
(again I say predominantly) to other men. Again, by the above definition this would result from a man--regardless of how masculine he personally feels--being feminized during development and seuxalizing as more female than male. More
does not mean solely
; which is why same-sex attracted individuals run the spectrum of gender mannerisms and cannot be stereo-typed regardless of how hard the media tries.
~ Romantic and/or sexual attraction to both genders (social distinction) or sexes (biological distinction). In these cases, the genetic triggers are "equally" sensitive to the hormonal cascade and the brain is sexualized in both a feminine and masculine manner. The attraction to men and women itself is not equal
and runs a spectrum of personal preference.
The evolutionary advantage would allow a segment of the population to be able to create extended families both platonically and romantically/sexually. This places extra adults and therefore extra resources into a family unit which gives greater security that offspring will reach maturity.
See Also: Polyamorous, Androgynous, Two-Spirited
~ Unlike the first three, this is not a sexual orientation. During development the hormonal cascade that signals for a fetal body to begin developing genitalia of one sex or another, for some reason sexualizes the brain completely
to be a different gender. This causes the person to "feel" (read, "know") they are one gender while they posses the biological sex of the other.
There are those who can reconcile this opposition and don't self-identify as transgendered. For those who can't, it can lead to severe Body Dysmorphic Disorder
and there is a high rate of suicides among transgendered youth. Surgery can alleviate the BDD and those allowed to transition in a loving environment often overcome years of darker thoughts from adolescence. Unfortunately the number who get that loving environment are rare. There is also a high rate of hate crimes against transgendered individuals living as the gender they're transitioning to.
Due to how often it leads to death and the fact that it requires a radical surgery to reconcile, this is one of three on the list that many professionals feel qualifies as a birth defect.
See Also: Genderqueer, Androgynous
~ This is defined as a person whose sex chromosomes, genitalia, and/or secondary sexual characteristics are neither exclusively male or female. Often the first clue of this condition is ambiguous gentalia. When the gentalia is classifiable, the secondary sexual characteristics at puberty signal the condition. And of course, chromosomal profiles have revealed a variation beyond the XX and XY we're used to.
This condition has been classified as a birth defect or birth disorder. But let me be clear; if the gentialia and chormosomal makeup allows for the production of viable offspring then being intersexed does not
qualify as a defect. It's simply a variant development and doesn't need to be "fixed". Surgery on intersexed infants with ambiguous genitalia to give them a "normal" appearance should be pulled from common practice and such things should wait until a child reaches puberty or later so they can give informed consent should they find surgery necessary. (And the patient advocate in me shall surrender the soapbox)
It is possible that the same hormonal cascade and genetic sensitivity that creates a bisexual brain, in this case, effects the body instead, masculizing and feminizing the fetal body as best it can.
See Also: Androgynous
~ Defined as the aesthetic attraction, romantic love, and/or sexual desire for people regardless of gender indentity or biological sex. Bisexuality falls within Pansexuality, but Pansexual does away with the binary system of gender implied by "Bi", and includes those of all gender variance.
This development may be due to either inability to distinquish the sexual hormones during development, or hyper-sensitivity that allows for imprinting on the entire hormonal spectrum. In turn, it would keep socialization from defining a single gender as the object of affection, and further create an inability to imprint on gender as a defining trait in sexual attraction. It is secondary because any combination of gender traits is enough to trigger the hardwiring of a pansexual brain.
Of course pansexuality can be a part of fluid sexual development where sexual orientation expands to include greater definitions of gender and sex than the social norm.
~ Defined as the desire, practice or acceptance of having more than one loving and intimate relationship with full knowledge and consent of everyone involved. Polyamory is not limited to any singular sexual orientation, but it may be a natural inborn inclination just like sexual orientation.
Many cultures around the world practice polyamory in different forms from polyfidelity, to polygamy to group marriage. And yes, there are polygamous cultures where women have multiple husbands so it's not solely the misognistic and abusive circumstance seen in modern Mormon and other Christian cults. (Not saying the Mormons are a cult across the board, but that the poly-wife communities have been named cults by the Mormons themselves).
As with bisexuality and pansexuality, polyamory makes evolutionary sense in that it offers more resources to existing offspring. If the sexuality of those involved are varied, it limits the number of children(without medical intervention) and lowers the adult to child ratio, further ensuring viability.
~ This is defined as an individual who has both male and female characteristics or neither male nor female characteristics. There are several options for this particular development. Sometimes it is a purposeful social construct, but this often stems from an internal desire to express blended traits because the person feels they are both genders or a third gender.
Some Androgynous individuals are trangender and reconcile their physical gender and mental gender by refusing to conform to either. Others are intersexed and are physically androgynous due to their hormonal and chromosomal makeup. As with being intersexed, it's likely that the same hormonal sensitivity that results in bisexuality in the brain hits certain chemical receptors and creates a bigender
separate from sexual orientation.
~ This is a controversial term in some circles as it was once derogatory and is still found offensive by some in the LGBT community. For those who are younger in the community, it's reclamation by social activist has made it an emerging favorite for its inclusivity. At its most inclusive it can refer to all non-mainstream sexual expression straight, gay or inbetween.
Many who reject traditional gender roles and sexual identities feel that the term Queer (or genderqueer
) allows them to be who they are without restrictive definitions of lesbian, gay, bi or straight. This often leads to a feeling of freedom from heteronormative oppression which is why it has such sociopolitical clout among queer activist.
It is the "Q" I'm personally referring in LGBTQ any time you see it in my writing.
~ This is nicely self-explanatory. It is the one part of sexual development that is nearly universal. Most of us will, or have, gone through it during adolescence and post adolescence. And some return to the questioning stage time and again throughout their entire lives.
~ This is the third and last on the list that some professionals qualify as a birth defect. It is defined as someone without sexual attraction. And as I'm sure you're way ahead of me on, the birth defect argument is based on the fact that the lack of sexual attraction leads to a lack of sexual conduct and thus no possibility of sexual reproduction. Further more there is no sexual bonding which could lead to caring for the offspring of others giving dispute to this as a natural evolutionary development.
It is thought that about 1% of the population identifies as asexual. It appears that during the sexualization of the brain and body, the body develops normally but the brain is resistant to the hormones and no sexualization occurs.
Asexuals can experience romantic attraction and fantasies but have no inclination to sexually explore the affections. Because of this romantic attraction there are many asexuals who further identify as gay, bi, or straight depending on who they develop romantic feelings towards.
~ A third gender recognized by American Indians and Canadian First Nations groups, this is defined as both a male and female spirits living in one body. Within the context of the tribes that recognized such persons, specific roles were assigned from healer to diplomat, and dress was a blend of traditional male and female.
It is currently adopted by many LGBTQ Native Americans to define themselves within the larger community. Because of its concept of legitimate dual gender, many bisexuals, pansexuals and genderqueered individuals of every nationality have also taken to the term Two-Spirited.
13. Straight Allies
~ Another nicely self-explanatory term. This of course includes any heterosexual identified person who is supportive of the LGBTQ community, many of whom are activist in such organizations as The Gay-Straight Alliance
14. Same-Sex Loving ~ Popular in the African-American community, SSL primarily replaces the terms gay and lesbian, acknowledging same-sex attraction, while not allowing it to define the individual with the connotations gay and lesbian carry in the African-American community. As with Two Spirited, Same-Sex Loving has grown beyond one community into many.
See also: Sexual Fluidity/Fluid Sexuality
15. Sexual Fluidity/Fluid Sexuality
~ Thought more common in women, Fluid sexuality is the ability to flow from attraction to one gender (social context) to another and one sex (biological context) to another without conforming to the binary social construct of straight or gay, or in most cases, straight or lesbian. In use, the term fluid is most associated with Bisexuality but does not carry with it the Biphobia experienced by out bisexuals, making it popular among Queer youth. By definition, fluid is most related to pansexual, where a single or dual system of gender and an identity based upon it are rejected in order to explore the entire spectrum of gender and sexuality including asexual identity.
As with both Bisexuality and Pansexuality, Sexual Fluidity makes evolutionary sense, allowing for the maximum number of partners and ultimate resiliance when circumstance or disease limited available mates by gender. Intimate and extended family units could be formed and viable offspring produced with all roles filled.
16. Dual Gendered ~ As with Two-Spirited and Bisexual, a dual gendered brain was both "masculinized" and "feminized" during fetal development. How this presents itself is often dependent upon the culture in which the dual gendered individual is raised. It is as subtle or overt as the social construct defining the dual gendered child.
In the Western World, beyond just the tomboy or "sissy" stereotype, dual gendered children often draw a line in the social gendered sands, choosing activities, dress, or personal expression of the differing gender to partner with those of their apparent gender. This often expresses itself in adulthood with a sexual identity that is Bisexual, Pansexual, or Fluid, carrying all the evolutionary benefits of each. Because viable offspring and fulfilled lives can be had with this dual development, it is also not a birth defect but a variable development. Once more, everything after the definitions is my opinion based on my and interpretation of the research to date. As always you are welcome to agree or disagree and I'm open to anyone who falls under any of these definitions who would like to talk about their experience and the way they self-define. As I said at the beginning, this is just the tip of the iceberg and all sorts of research and studies are avaible on most of the above terms. Do your own research and draw your own conclusions. All I ever ask is that you keep an open mind when you do so.
LGBTQ and More Ramble Done