The issue of sexual orientation has been a subject of debate whether it concerns setting up the standard of what is acceptable or not; or giving an exact explanation of its cause and origin through scientific studies aimed especially on preferences that deviates from the norm of society, even if the issue is as ancient as man’s history. Across times and culture, it is generally heterosexuality which is the established category, but other sexual orientations also existed in various societies such as homosexuality, and other variants which include transsexuals, bisexuals, or transgender.
There have been widespread militant homosexual movements who are asserting their rights and freedom to express themselves. Homosexuality in most societies is still generally considered deviant behaviors, although there are a few exceptions. Openly expressing non-heterosexual behaviors may have considerably increased in our times; but experiencing social stigmas are still common among those who practice it. Reason for such rejection comes invariably from the inherent basic category into which human beings, regardless of race, creed, or culture, are placed is the category of sex — male or female.
Associated with the obvious biological differences between boys and girls and men and women, are psychological and behavioral differences that are perhaps even more important for individual adjustment than the biological differences. Due to the social stigma associated with either homosexuals or other forms such as transsexual or transgender, it is typically essential in almost all cultures that part of growing and living happily is to adhere to psychological and social norms of maleness or femaleness along with its biological aspects.
Although some homosexuals have achieved happiness, it is gained at a heavy price. Although current society shows substantial tolerance and acceptability of homosexuals, transgender and transsexuals, there are very few parents who would choose to have their children grow up with non-heterosexual inclinations. II. Homosexuality Homosexuality, as a human sexual practice can be found and has existed even in early times. Although the practice has persisted through time, the issue still continues to be controversial.
For centuries before the rise of Greek civilization many peoples from the eastern Mediterranean country of Sumer (modern Iraq) worshipped a goddess whose rites included both heterosexual and homosexual intercourse. The first recorded writing on homosexual themes in the Western world came from the poetess Sappho, who lived on Lesbos, an island of Greece, in the late sixth and early seventh centuries B. C. The terms “Sapphism” and “lesbianism”, both of which denoted female homosexuality, are derived from Sappho’s name and birthplace.
Anacreon of Teos was the first poet after Sappho to celebrate male homosexuality. Homosexuality was openly accepted and practiced in ancient Greek and Chinese cultures by minorities of the ruling classes — the rich, the literate elite, artists, and statesmen. References to homosexuality in the Old Testament of the Bible are ambiguous prior to Leviticus. However, strong prohibitions against both male and female homosexuality in Western Judeo-Christian cultures can be traced back to the ancient prohibitions of the Hebrews.
Throughout the remaining ages, homosexuality was practiced openly, in secret, in cults, and in the reigns of rulers who were themselves homosexuals, in institutionalized forms. Among the latter were Julius Caesar, Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero, in ancient Rome; William II, king of England and the son of William the Conqueror; and Henry III, king of France. Homosexual individuals exhibit sexual preference or attraction among other persons of the same sexual category.
Homosexuality involves individuals of the same sex, usually but not necessarily engaging in physical intimate relationships, and who may not automatically categorize themselves as either gay or lesbian. Although it is usually perceived that all homosexuals engage in sexual acts of the same gender, it does not often follow. Fears of social rejection or strong religious convictions may cause some to resist the homosexual compulsion. However, the individual continuous to suffer inner conflict within and would experience great pressure to control one’s homosexual desires.
It is also worth mentioning that not all people who commit homosexual acts are homosexuals. In situations, especially men, wherein heterosexual acts are unavailable, would engage in homosexual acts such as in those in prison (F. Worthen. “What is Homosexuality? ”). Among those that have clearly identified within themselves and in society their homosexual preference is usually referred to as gay or lesbian. The term gay has come to be accepted to identify individuals of either sex who have homosexual inclinations while the word lesbian is exclusively employed to female homosexuals.
For most homosexuals, their condition is perceived as a condition set from birth —something that is irreversible and should be accepted. This self-concept is done primarily as a coping mechanism by which to relieve oneself from tension of inner conflict by which one sees the sexual preference being different from what is socially acceptable. There are recent scientific studies in neuroscience that have found a physiological difference between homosexuals and heterosexual males. In observing the brain, the former has been observed to have smaller INAH-3 (S.
LeVay. “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men”). Although many used this as proof of the biological theory as a causal factor of homosexuality, LeVay is quick to caution that the result of his work is non-conclusive. His studies were done among adult male brains, therefore it cannot be said whether such conditions already existed during birth or have developed out of the homosexual preference (D. Nimmons. “Sex and the Brain”). There are no studies on their female counterpart.
But up to this date, there is no definite scientific biological evidence to show that homosexuals are born “gay”. Their physical attributes and genetic make-up are either completely male or female. It is more generally accepted that homosexuality is more of a learned behavior rather than genetically preconditioned (this will be discussed later in greater detail). III. Transgender The term is generally used to refer to either a person, a set of behavior or group that engage in roles that depart from the standard roles of either men or women.
The condition of transgender presents the individual’s lack of fully identifying with one’s own gender. Typically, a person would identify oneself as man or woman, with such self-perception defining his or her gender identity. Sexual orientation or preference is not automatically implied among transgender. Transgender may exhibit behaviors that are usually associated with a certain gender but would classify ones self a different gender outside the norm, referring to it in terms such as ‘third gender” or “other”.
A transgender does not fully or completely conform to normative perceptions of male or female characteristics, feels dissatisfaction of being strictly assigned over one gender and therefore would display characteristics of both. Transgendered people does not necessarily desire or feel the need for sex change (“Transgender Campaign”). A type of transgender is the bigender, who would shift between male and female behavior. A bigender conveys both masculine and feminine qualities, depending on the circumstance. The shift of behavior from purely masculine to feminine (or vice versa), is done consciously or unconsciously.
It can be expressed overtly through cross-dressing or covertly, done at a mental level or by slight behavioral changes. Other subsets of transgender include the genderqueer, cross-dresser, transsexual or transvestite. It must be noted that people who have ambiguous physical characteristics are not necessarily transgender. Transgender individuals are also referred to as “transman” or “transwoman”, describing the gender shift from female-to-male or the other way around. In contrast, “cisgender” is used to refer to individuals who fully identifies with the gender by which it has been assigned by birth.