Tag Archives: gay

Suicide and LGBTQ Youth

Introduction

I just started watching the video Dan Savage does with his partner about teenage glbtq suicide and it started out “I went to an all boys catholic highschool…” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IcVyvg2Qlo). It reminds me of my adolescence, not only because I went to a catholic all-girls highschool, but also because I was becoming comfortable with my sexuality, my non-heterosexuality, my bisexuality, my pansexuality, whatever sexuality is, my sexual nature? Either way, my sexual self. What I knew about my sexual self as a sophomore was that I liked girls, I had crushes on girls. I was incredibly lucky because there was someone who was out who I latched on to and told about my sexuality. Either way, being a non-heterosexual person in highschool can be difficult. Highschool can be difficult. Being gay is difficult in America, most of America, unless you have a strong support network and even then, there are your peers, and community members, and others who might not be so supportive.

A very large issue in the glbtq community is the prevalence or wide occurrence of having depression sometime in life. Depression or prolonged sadness is common for many people and possibly because its becoming less of a stigma, depression is being revealed more, but it seems to be really common for gay youth. For this reason, there are many non-profits that combat and try to prevent glbtq youth from committing suicide (which are among the most likely to commit suicide of the youth population). The reasons for glbtq wanting to commit suicide may range from lonliness, societal stigma, secrecy, constant conflict at school or home, emotional or physical isolation, homelessness, and more. Every person’s experience with depression is unique.

What I am going to talk about in this post is something one of my good friends just brought to my attention, Dan Savage’s organization to prevent youth suicide among the glbtq population through his project called “It Gets Better”.

In Dan Savage’s video (which I provided a link for above) is the message “It Gets Better” and it will and it can. So, you can live a better life when you get out of a tough time. During the video the two (Dan and his partner) share their highschool experiences, how they met, how they have supportive family networks, and how they have an amazing family with their son, DJ. Then they share really cute memories, which you should watch the video to hear about. My favorite message is “you will find love and a community”. Truth Dan, Truth.

It Gets Better Project

Dan Savage, author of the sex advice column and podcast Savage Love, started a campaign called “It Gets Better” with his partner Terry after hearing about the death of Billy Lucas, age 15, on the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day (more here: http://www.examiner.com/sex-education-in-national/dan-savage-launches-it-gets-better-project-to-reach-out-to-lgbt-teens).

Savage’s message is that we can spread hope to others, simply through the internet, by being a supportive friend, family member, or community member. After being introduced by another friend of mine to Savage’s podcast “Savage Love” this summer I am extremely supportive of what Savage is trying to do. In his podcast Savage combats heterosexist assumptions about gender roles, relationships, and sex, which is one of the first steps as an individual to combat homophobia.

The Trevor Project

Another project that strives to prevent glbtq youth suicide is the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is based out of Southern California.

On their website (http://www.thetrevorproject.org/about-trevor/organization) it states their vision:

“The Trevor Project is the national provider of life saving resources to LGBTQ youth and their families. We advocate acceptance and help prevent teen suicide by promoting mental health and positive self-esteem through a premiere on line destination, nationwide 24/7 call centers, and empowering social activities”

The Trevor Project is an amazing resource and on their website they state a strategic plan of how they are going to reach their goals of preventing suicide among glbtq youth.

Conclusion

A very large influence on teen depression is homophobia. Homophobia is not always a direct attack, but also comes in assumptions about desire and experience. Homophobia is oppressive, individually and to the lgbtq community because it makes being attracted to a person of the same-sex a stigma and that should not be the case.

When I was home the year before my senior year in college, three people committed suicide in front of train tracks. The city posted police cars at every stop in my city and they saved two kids lives. Our local glbtq organization spoke at a town hall meeting offering their services. I hope they save more kids lives because every life is valuable.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Education, glbtq, News, politics, Sexuality, Youth

DADT: The Battle and the Story

Introduction

I find it ironic that one of our most loved and charismatic presidents promoted the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the government (President Clinton) and that it still exists to this day. Right now in the Senate, according to the New York Times (NYT) as of yesterday afternoon the votes were 56-43, having the Democrats fall 60 votes short of a filibuster. All I can say is: WE”RE SO CLOSE!!

It was just this January that President Obama made a promise to the gay community that he was going to end the harmful DADT (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/21/senate-democrats-dont-filibuster-gay-service-ban/?ref=politics). Many of the comments that I read under this article stated that there was no research done on the repercussions on those in the military. The day after the above article was released, another one came out, detailing the stories of seven gay and lesbian people in the military, four of whom remain anonymous.

Gay Service Members Discuss “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Throughout the stories, I felt myself sighing. Over the past year, I have encountered a family friend who served in the Air Force as a gay man and later became a psychologist. I’m not sure if he lived under DADT, but either way, I couldn’t believe that he could go through the Air Force as a gay man. Also, someone from my college just entered the Marine Corps and he is gay and sends one of my previous housemates letters from his training. Before he went I asked my friend “Why is he going? Isn’t he gay?”. I guess many of these stories that I just finished answered this question. They say its because you love the work you do, you think you are strong enough, and hiding doesn’t seem so bad when you are surrounded by a different kind of family, the Army family. Even with all of these things, it seems as if every individual broke under the pressure.

Here is an excerpt I found to highlight most of the readings:

“For anyone serving in the military, certain hardships come standard: long hours, too little family time, and yearlong deployments to name but a few. But because of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” my hardships seemed different from those faced by others.

Other soldiers don’t get enough time with their families; I’m prohibited from having a family. They spend a year of deployment isolated from their significant other; I was never allowed to have a significant other. They are obligated to never lie; I am told I must lie to keep my job. They work hard to “do the right thing, even when no one is looking;” I am fundamentally unacceptable to military service according to United States Code, and it feels like everyone is looking.

When people ask me why I stayed in, I tell them it’s for the same reason everyone else does: We are all dedicated to “taking care of soldiers.” There is no responsibility more serious than that, and also none more rewarding. Not only are we growing an effective Army that will keep people safe, but we also feel we are instilling soldiers with values and growing them into even better Americans” (Stephen Farell 2010: 1).

And this one:

“No mention of the exasperating home-improvement projects that my partner and I have faced, no discussion about the surprise anniversary getaway he had planned for us, no sharing of the struggles I faced while he was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The very things that all of us share, gay or straight, that bring us closer together, I had to avoid. Rather than lie and make up a cover story, I damaged the vital esprit des corps inherent to military life. The very thing that supporters of “don’t ask, don’t tell” fear will be eroded by openly gay and lesbian service members is already jeopardized by the inherent aspects of not “asking” and not “telling.”

Over the years I have had good days and bad ones — not unlike any other job. I love my job as a helicopter pilot, so the only bad days are those when I am placed in the unwanted position of having to lie or deceive my coworkers because of D.A.D.T” (Stephen Farell 2010: 1).

Also:

“I was not suicidal, but there were some dark days when I wondered what it would be like if I decided that I didn’t want to live any more. Being gay in the military under “don’t ask, don’t tell” really is a private hell. The psychological effect of feeling alone and depressed was more damaging to me than any emotional effect of being shot at or a bomb blast (both of which I have also experienced). The only thing worse for me was the loss of one of my soldiers” (Stephen Farell 2010: 1).

I recently heard a slam poet earlier, when I was still in my senior year of college, Andrea Gibson. I was surprised when she did a lot of poems about soldiers because whenever I saw a sticker on backs of cars saying “Support Our Troops!” I always sort of grimaced because I thought it meant supporting the war and what the troops were doing. After hearing her poems about bringing troops back home and about homophobia in the military the phrase “Support Our Troops!” started meaning something else to me. So now, SUPPORT OUR TROOPS! REPEAL DADT!

Conclusion

If you’re not obsessed with the L Word like I used to be and haven’t seen the scene in Season 5 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNjRVYVax5s) when Tasha gets discharged…yeah, made me cry. She also hires a lawyer and goes through the whole citing of cases where she has been found to be conducting homosexual behavior.

I don’t think a civilian will ever know what it is like to be in the military unless they have a loved one who is involved, or a friend, but even then, I don’t think I will know, even with reading the stories. After reading these stories, I definitely wish for DADT to be repealed, even if I don’t exactly know what it is like to be in the military, or how it will be changed if DADT is repealed.


MORE!! LINKS!!

Legal Defense Network: http://www.sldn.org/

OutServe: http://outserve.org/

Autostraddle’s Comments on DADT (there are numerous): http://www.autostraddle.com/on-countrymen-and-honor-60373/

http://www.autostraddle.com/dont-ask-dont-tell-hangover-day-60434/

http://www.autostraddle.com/lady-gaga-rocks-dont-ask-dont-tell-rally-and-if-you-dont-like-it-go-home-60233/

http://www.autostraddle.com/9-perspectives-of-john-mccain-60401/

http://www.autostraddle.com/repealing-dont-ask-dont-tell-its-a-thing-60113/

1 Comment

Filed under history, News, politics

Personal Sexuality Story

Introduction

This is a coming out story, or rather, a story about sexuality. I have been requesting stories from people via facebook ever since I started this blog about how the process of “realizing” their sexuality has been over time, how it has developed, etc. This person emailed me their story and now I present it here.

The Story

I’m twenty years old, and I guess you would call me bisexual if I was forced to label
my sexuality in one word. I used to get frustrated by all the words, all the hype of
labeling sexuality—or, more often than not, NOT labeling sexuality. I understand it
now. “Bisexual” seems an entirely inadequate way to describe my sexuality or how I
feel about it. I feel like the only way to do the word justice is to tell my story from
the beginning as honestly as I can, which is difficult, since the person I’ve deceived
most in this whole journey is myself. But, as always, I’m getting ahead of myself, so
here it begins. I’ve always been of the opinion that one should fall in love with a
person, not a gender. We are, after all, attracted to individuals rather than collective
groups. I’ve differed from my family and peers in this regard, having spent my
formative years in a moderately conservative family while attending an Episcopalian
preparatory academy in America’s heartland. Still, I’ve never struggled with the
notion of whether homosexuality is right or wrong on my own moral compass—to me, it has
always been simple: if it adds love to the world, I’m for it. But I certainly knew
early on that this stance was unpopular and better left in my own heart and head than
revealed to the general public. I grew up for the better part of my first twenty years
dating men, never discounting this theory that gender shouldn’t be a factor, and yet
never considering women as part of the available dating market for myself.

My first year of high school, I discovered a group of friends who would later be the
founding members of my school’s extremely unpopular and highly controversial
gay-straight alliance. An assembly of the school’s freaks and geeks and overseen by
the out of favor liberal school chaplain, I fit right in as a lanky freshman with
oversize purple glasses, rainbow colored braces. And greasy blonde bangs that my mother
curled every morning. They were loud, funny, liberal, and opened the door to the
school’s underground counter-culture, and I loved it. I was the antithesis of a high
school glamour girl, and subsequently entered the ninth grade shying away from the boys I
liked, preferring to keep myself a distance away and journal compulsively later on about
their whereabouts. On the occasions where I did get close enough to talk to one, I found
myself learning to be the picture perfect best friend. In my longing, I would give them
all of my time, love, and devotion, pouring out advice and insight in exchange for the
occasional smile, or in a case where my advice helped them get the perfect girl, a rare
hug and thank you. At less than 100 pounds and a true nerd, I was non-threatening. And
yet, my time as a helpful best friend would eventually pass, when they found a new
audience for their tricks, and they would move on. I, in turn, would pour my heart out
to my loving journal. My first boyfriend ended up being engaged and dropping me quickly
(as a side note, they have since split up, and he is dating her sorority sister). Though
it didn’t take too long to get over him, I’m not sure I ever have recovered from that
kind of rejection. It was around this time that I had my first sex dream. It took place
in a palace of some kind, a Tuscan villa perhaps. I made love to a princess with jet
black hair down to her waist. I awoke unsure if I had been a man or woman in the dream.
The perfection of the lingering image and the confusion I felt in the aftermath would
plague and intrigue me for years to come—a part of me wanting it to return, another
part in sheer terror that it might.

The summer before my senior year, I started finding friends outside of my small Episcopal
school, and it was during this time that I discovered my ideal crowd—gay boys. They
appreciated my nurturing, didn’t let me go out of the house looking disheveled, and
never pretended to be anything they weren’t—a virtual guarantee that they wouldn’t
hurt me. They appreciated all the love I had to share, and could look past the greasy,
insecure exterior. It was the beginning of my understanding that sexuality is much more
multifaceted than who we love; it is a culture. And I loved GLBTQ culture. I didn’t
understand why there was a GLBTQ culture at the time, but I loved it none the less.
Little did I know, this was just the beginning. Upon returning to school in the fall, I
was named president of the GSA, much to the dismay of my mother. Though I preached the
merits of the club and my involvement, she continued to worry that I would be mocked or
ostracized, clearly not comprehending that every day of high school WAS filled with
mocking, and club meetings were my one-hour escape. I learned quickly not to mention my
involvement in the club. During my year as president, we not only did a lot of
programming (some new, some passed on to me from the previous president), I had a handful
of people come to talk to me about their own struggles, and a few students even come out
to me. But I also had the daunting task of facing the real world. After a member of the
club spoke on a “Welcome to high school” panel put on for eighth graders and
mentioned that she had a girlfriend, all hell broke loose. The next week the club advisor
and I faced the dean, headmaster, a number of angry trustees, and a barrage of angry
parents. I was blessed to have the school chaplain who was serving as the club faculty
advisor support me the entire way, but the adult world certainly did not like the work
the club was trying to do, and had no reservations making villains of teenagers to serve
their needs. None the less, the club stayed in tact, and if anything, was strengthened by
the experience. While a lot of people wanted to fight fire with fire, I urged them to be
the mature party, to put the parents to shame with our adult reasoning and calmness of
presence. Much to my surprise, it really put them off, and they eventually lost interest
as long as we didn’t push the limits too much. While I wasn’t thrilled by that
outcome, I reminded myself that this is a journey, and it’s just one little battle at a
time—I’m not going to change the world overnight. I’ve since tried to always use a
calm tone and quiet approach to be heard in situations where people want to close their
ears and minds.

Coming to college in the fall of 2006, I found myself for the first time in my life
fitting into a vocal majority on a lot of social justice issues, and it was
overwhelmingly refreshing. My high school activities—literary magazine, GSA, and
theater prevalent among them—fell to the wayside as I focused on making new friends and
trying new things, like football and tour guiding. While I knew something was missing in
my life, it didn’t occur to me that this missing part was advocacy and the fulfillment
I got out of working with my peers to cultivate tolerance. Fast-forward to sophomore
year, second semester. I can’t tell you how I finally came to the realization, but by
this point in time, it was fairly clear that I was bisexual. One day, I just said it to
myself, and it was right. After years of what were clearly not-hetero thoughts, I finally
stopped justifying and considered the possibility that I wasn’t straight, and it made
sense.

Of course, this revelation brings about a lot of questions. If I’m dating a man, does
that make me less a part of the GLBTQ community? Will dating women now make men in the
future uncomfortable? If I get into a relationship, what if the first person I love or
have sex with is a woman? Will I be okay with losing my virginity to another woman? And
another predicament: coming out. To this day, I’ve come out to only a handful of
people. At school, I’ve chosen people who I knew would take it well and be supportive
to tell, and this has worked well enough. It’s a new enough revelation that I don’t
feel like I’m hiding by not throwing a one-woman pride parade. After coming out to a
few friends at school, I found myself testing the Private College** waters of women, and I felt
more secure in my own definition of my sexuality. With a developing crush, I guess only
time will tell how the dating-in-college story will play out.

At home, I’m careful not to let it out. As for my family, I don’t think they’ll be
finding out anytime soon. Or ever. My relationship with my family is strained enough as
is, and I can’t help but believe that since they are so critical of the things I do,
they would be even moreso about the things I am. Every time my mother hears about
someone we know coming out, she exclaims “Thank GOD my children aren’t gay. Can you
imagine?” I know that in the age of technology, what with everyone being
interconnected, news could quickly get from school to home. I do everything in my power
to keep people who have any sort of connection to my family or home life out of the loop.
While it might seem extreme, I’m financially dependent on my parents, and I feel that
them finding out I’m bisexual could compromise my tuition, as crazy as it might seem.
Mainly, I just hope that my not being out to my family never has an effect on any
relationship I might have.

Conclusion

This person has been very honest and trusting in sharing this story. While you have read it, I hope you could find a place where you could relate because I definitely could. I feel as if everyone, at some point in their lives, questions their sexuality (not necessarily their desire). Questioning, discovering, wondering, and talking about sexuality should not be taboo and hopefully this story will be the first step in uncovering many stories.

**college name changed for confidentiality

Leave a comment

Filed under Sexuality

Affectional Orientation

Introduction

“Affectional orientation (or romantic orientation) is used both alternatively and side-by-side with sexual orientation. [1] It is based on the perspective that sexual attraction is but a single component of a larger dynamic. To holders of this view, one’s orientation is defined by whom one is predisposed to fall in love with, whether or not one desires that person sexually. Lately, the predominant use of the term “sexual orientation” is considered to reduce a whole category of desires and emotions, as well as power and connection, to sex.

The term affectional orientation is also used by those who consider themselves asexual and only experience mental, emotional, physical (i.e. sensual, tactile), and/or aesthetic attraction(s). The terms used for different affectional orientations are often the same as those for sexual orientations; though “homoromantic,” “biromantic,” “heteroromantic,” and “aromantic” have gained some popularity. Asexuals sometimes incorporate colloquial terms to describe both the romantic and sexual components of their orientation (e.g. gay-asexual, bi-asexual, and straight-asexual).

There are also those who hold the view that one’s orientation is defined by whom one has affection for and that their sexual attraction (or “drive”, perhaps more appropriately) is dependent upon affection for another human being’s personal qualities, regardless of their sex, gender or even outward appearance altogether. This use of the term does not require falling in love but is still based on a personal affection. One might now consider the phrase “conditional sexual attraction” to describe the experience of those who are otherwise asexual, as opposed to “primary sexual attraction” used to describe people who are “sexual”. ” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affectional_orientation)

Criticism

See the website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affectional_orientation

It talks about how this term is more applicable to describe those who have complicated desires, basically something that can not be summarized by bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual. Sexuality is not simply about sex, which our culture has begun to combine with love, but a combination of many factors that can not be simply understood by labels.

Note

This term is important to consider for people who are transitioning and well, for anyone. American Society today is largely based on love intertwining with sex. Maybe we need to separate the two and see them as factors that influence each other, not as one entity.

Also, this can be an important argument for same-sex marriage if someone who is affectionate towards the same sex (someone who is trans, whatever the situation calls for) and usually finds themselves sexually attracted to the “opposite”, but is in a relationship with someone who, by society, is considered the same-sex, shouldn’t they have the right to get married? America would probably like to encourage monogamous and committed relationships (which marriage encourages, though maybe not…) and marriage sometimes has the ability to do this. I found this draft of an amendment that should be proposed:

Section I. Same-Sex Union

Whereas maintaining the public health requires that lifetime monogamous union be encouraged, and that promiscuity be discouraged, and

Whereas current laws regarding domestic partnership tend to undermine the institution of marriage,

Congress hereby encourages the States to create a legal status of same-gender union between two individuals with the same rights and priveleges as heterosexual marriage, and subject to the same laws regarding divorce. Congress further encourages the States to abolish all laws regarding domestic partnership without benefit of marriage.” (http://www.dogchurch.org/dogpac/gays.html)

Conclusion

Today, Sexuality is mostly thought of in terms of the two interlaced terms: love and sex. Affectional Orientation seems to make and insist that sexuality is more complicated, that love should not be just thrown in with sexuality because love involves a different desire. Maybe, and this is just a beginning, all of us are confused as to the difference between affection and sexual desire. The intention, the feeling behind something, is not always apparent, which is why, possibly, sexuality has been including both affectionate desire and sexual. If two friends kiss each other versus a couple, how is one to measure the difference except for the outcome?

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, glbtq, Queer, Sexuality

Labels, Titles, Terms, or “What sexuality do you fit?” : Broad Overview

Introduction to the Terms

Disclaimer: Note, most importantly, this is just a broad overview and an introduction to these words. I will probably explore the separate terms in alternate articles in the future. Also, All of these definitions are not the definitions I myself always use. I put these definitions here to be used as a resource, as further exploration, and for questioning the definitions. There are plenty of definitions out there, more words that people use to define themselves and the gender/sex/form of expression they have. In addition, there are plenty of synonyms for the above words. I will try to update this page as often as I am capable of.  If you know of any terms, please contact me and I would be glad and excited to add another word to my vocabulary and to this site. Thank you.

1. Queer:

“The word queer has traditionally meant “strange” or “unusual,” but its use in reference to LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex) communities as well as those perceived to be members of those communities has replaced the traditional definition and application. Its usage is considered controversial and underwent substantial changes over the course of the 20th Century with some LGBT people re-claiming the term as a means of self-empowerment. The term is still considered by some to be offensive and derisive, and by others as a re-appropriated term used to describe a sexual orientation and/or gender identity or gender expression that does not conform to heteronormative society.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer)

2. Questioning

“Questioning is a term that can refer to a person who is questioning their gender, sexual identity or sexual orientation.[1] People who are questioning may be unsure of their sexuality, or still exploring their feelings.[2]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Questioning_%28sexuality_and_gender%29)

3. Coming Out

“Coming out or coming out of the closet describes the voluntary public announcement of one’s (primarily homosexual or bisexual) sexual orientation or gender identity.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coming_out)

4. Bisexuality

“Bisexuality refers to sexual or romantic attraction toward members of both sexes. It is one of the three main classifications of sexual orientation, along with heterosexual and homosexual.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisexual)

5. Lesbian

“A lesbian is a woman who is romantically and sexually attracted only to other women.[1][2] Women who are attracted to both women and men are more often referred to as bisexual. An individual’s self-identification might not correspond with her behavior, and may be expressed with either, both, or neither of these words. “(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lesbian)

6. Gay/Homosexual

A. adj. Involving, related to, or characterized by a sexual propensity for one’s own sex; of or involving sexual activity with a member of one’s own sex, or between individuals of the same sex.

B. n. A person who has a sexual propensity for his or her own sex; esp. one whose sexual desires are directed wholly or largely towards people of the same sex.
In non-technical contexts it is often taken to mean a male homosexual, a female one being termed a lesbian.

(http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50107612?single=1&query_type

=word&queryword=homosexual+&first=1&max_to_show=10)

7. Pansexuality

“Pansexuality or anthrosexuality (anthro- literally meaning human, human sexual) (sometimes referred to as omnisexuality[1]) is a sexual orientation characterized by the potential for aesthetic attraction, romantic love and/or sexual desire for people, regardless of their gender identity or biological sex. Thus, pansexuality includes potential attraction to people (such as transgender individuals) who do not fit into the gender binary of male/female. Some pansexuals suggest that they are gender-blind; that gender and sex are insignificant or irrelevant in determining whether they will be sexually attracted to others.[2]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pansexual)

8. Asexual

Not sexual, without sex. In Bot. formerly applied to cryptogams; cf. agamic. (http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50012857?single=1&query_type=word

&queryword=asexual+&first=1&max_to_show=10)

9. Transexual

A. adj.

1. Of or pertaining to transsexualism; having physical characteristics of one sex and psychological characteristics of the other.

B. n. A transsexual person. Also, one whose sex has been changed by surgery.

(http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50256546/50256546spg1?single=1&query_type=misspelling&queryword=transexual

&first=1&max_to_show=10&hilite=50256546spg1)

10. Transgender

“…derivatives [trans <L, combination form meaning across, beyond, through] and [gender <ME <MF gendre, genre <L gener- meaning kind or sort]) is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society.

Transgender is the state of one’s “gender identity” (self-identification as male, female, both or neither) not matching one’s “assigned gender” (identification by others as male or female based on physical/genetic sex). “Transgender” does not imply any specific form of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual or asexual. The precise definition for transgender remains in flux, but includes:

  • “Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender, but combines or moves between these.”[1]
  • “People who were assigned a gender, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves.”[2]
  • “Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the gender one was assigned at birth.”[3]

A transgender individual may have characteristics that are normally associated with a particular gender, identify elsewhere on the traditional gender continuum, or exist outside of it as “other,” “agender,” “intergender,” or “third gender“. Transgender people may also identify as bigender, or along several places on either the traditional transgender continuum, or the more encompassing continuums which have been developed in response to the significantly more detailed studies done in recent years.[4]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender)

Note: All of the terms pertaining to transgender, transexual, transvestite, etc can be found when searching transgender, transexual on wikipedia and provides a much better resource than the oxford english dictionary. Wikipedia seems to be much more inclusive and covers the history of terms and the many definitions. Sometimes the OED (Oxford English dictionary) can leave out some meanings or meanings we take on for ourselves in the glbtq community.

11. Genderqueer

” People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as being both a man and a woman, as being neither a man nor a woman, or as falling completely outside the gender binary. Some wish to have certain features of the opposite sex and not all characteristics; others want it all.

Some genderqueer people see their identity as one of many possible genders other than man or woman, while others see “genderqueer” as an umbrella term that encompasses all of those possible genders. Still others see “genderqueer” as a third gender to complement the traditional two, while others identify as genderless or a-gender. Genderqueer people are united by their rejection of the notion that there are only two genders.

The term “genderqueer” can also be used as an adjective to refer to any people who transgress gender, regardless of their self-defined gender identity (see Alternate Meanings, below).”  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genderqueer)

12. Gender identity

“Gender identity (or core gender identity) is a person’s own sense of identification as male or female. The term is intended to distinguish this psychological association, from physiological and sociological aspects of gender.[1] Gender identity was originally a medical term used to explain sex reassignment procedures to the public.[2] The term is also found in psychology, often as core gender identity.[3] Sociology, gender studies and feminism are still inclined to refer to gender identity, gender role and erotic preference under the catch-all term gender.

Gender identity is affected by “genetic, prenatal hormonal, postnatal social, and postpubertal hormonal determinants.”[4] Biological factors include the influence of testosterone and gene regulation in brain cells. Social factors are primarily based on the family, as gender identity is thought to be formed by the third year of life.[3]

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (302.85) has five criteria that must be met before a diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) can be made. “In gender identity disorder, there is discordancy between the natal sex of one’s external genitalia and the brain coding of one’s gender as masculine or feminine.”[2]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_identity)

13. Sex

“.. is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into male and female types (or sexes). Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells (gametes) to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents. Gametes can be identical in form and function (known as isogametes), but in many cases an asymmetry has evolved such that two sex-specific types of gametes (heterogametes) exist: male gametes are small, motile, and optimized to transport their genetic information over a distance, while female gametes are large, non-motile and contain the nutrients necessary for the early development of the young organism.

An organism’s sex is defined by the gametes it produces: males produce male gametes (spermatozoa, or sperm) while females produce female gametes (ova, or egg cells); individual organisms which produce both male and female gametes are termed hermaphroditic. Frequently, physical differences are associated with the different sexes of an organism; these sexual dimorphisms can reflect the different reproductive pressures the sexes experience. In some cases male or (more commonly) female organisms also have the role of caring for offspring through the first part of development.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex)

14. Sexuality

“Generally speaking, human sexuality is how people experience and express themselves as sexual beings.[1] The study of human sexuality encompasses an array of social activities and an abundance of behaviors, actions, and societal topics. Biologically, sexuality can encompass sexual intercourse and sexual contact in all its forms, as well as medical concerns about the physiological or even psychological aspects of sexual behaviour. Sociologically, it can cover the cultural, political, and legal aspects; and philosophically, it can span the moral, ethical, theological, spiritual or religious aspects.

As Michel Foucault wrote in The History of Sexuality, the concept of what activities and sensations are “sexual” is historically (as well as regionally and culturally) determined, and it is therefore part of a changing “discourse”.[2][3][4][5][6] The sexual meanings (meanings of the erotic dimension of human sexual experience), are social and cultural constructs, they are made subjective only after cultural and social mediation.[7] Being the main force conditioning human relationship, sex is essentially political. In any social context, the construction of a “sexual universe” is fundamentally linked to the structures of power.[7][2][8][9] The construction of sexual meanings, is an instrument by which social institutions (religion, marketing, the educational system, psychiatry, etc.) control and shape human relationships.[4][3]

According to Foucault, sexuality began to be regarded as a concept part of human nature since the 19th century; so sexuality began to be used as a mean to define normality and its boundaries, and to conceive everything outside those boundaries in the realm of psychopathology. In the 20th century, with the theories of Sigmund Freud and of sexology, the “not-normal” was seen more as a “discontent of civilization” [10][3] In a well known passage of his work, Foucault noted that the development of the notion of sexuality organized sex as a “fictitious unity” of “disparate parts, functions, behaviours, and feelings with no natural or necessary relation among them”; therefore the conception of what is “natural” is a social construct.[11][12] To escape this cultural “sexuality” Foucault suggest to focus on “bodies and pleasures”.[13][11]

In many historical eras, recovered art and artifacts help to portray human sexuality of the time period.[14]” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sexuality)

15. Anal Sex

“… most often refers to the sex act involving insertion of the penis into the rectum.[1] The term anal sex can also sometimes include other sexual acts involving the anus, including but not limited to anilingus and fingering.

It is a form of sexual behavior considered to be comparatively high in risk, due to the vulnerability of the tissues and the septic nature of the anus.[2] As the rectal mucosa provides little natural lubrication, a personal lubricant is most often required or preferred when penetrating the anus.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anal_Sex)

16. Oral Sex

Oral sex consists of all sexual activities that involve the use of the mouth, which may include use of the tongue, teeth, and throat, to stimulate genitalia. Cunnilingus refers to oral sex performed on a woman while fellatio and irrumatio refer to oral sex performed on a man. Analingus refers to oral stimulation of a person’s anus. Oral stimulation of other parts of the body is usually not considered oral sex; see kiss and licking.

People may engage in oral sex as part of foreplay before intercourse, or during or following intercourse. It may also be performed for its own sake.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_Sex)

17. Heterosexual

“…is sexual or romantic attraction between opposite sexes, and is the most common sexual orientation among humans. The current use of the term has its roots in the broader 19th century tradition of personality taxonomy. These continue to influence the development of the modern concept of sexual orientation, gaining associations with romantic love and identity in addition to its original, exclusively sexual meaning.

The adjective heterosexual is used for intimate relationships and/or sexual relations between male and female individuals, who may or may not identify themselves as straight. Heterosexuality, as an identifier, is usually contrasted with homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality. The term straight is used predominantly to refer to self-identified heterosexuals of either sex. Unlike lesbian, there is no sex-specific term that is only used for self-identified heterosexual females.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heterosexual)

19. Intersex(ed)

“is the state of a living thing of a gonochoristic species whose sex chromosomes, genitalia and/or secondary sex characteristics are determined to be neither exclusively male nor female. An organism with intersex may have biological characteristics of both the male and female sexes. [1]

Intersexuality is the term adopted by medicine during the 20th century applied to human beings who cannot be classified as either male or female [2] [3] [4]

Intersexuality is also the word adopted by the identitary-political movement, surged at nineties, to criticize medical protocols in sex assignment and to claim the right to be heard in the construction of a new ones[5].” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersex)

1 Comment

Filed under Education, Sexuality