On Sexual Identity

On Sexual Identity

TJ153-9-07 BC 179L D.indd

The following is a developmental hypothesis based on some limited empirical evidence which hopefully will give rise to heuristic research.

The initial hypothesis is that homosexuality is a complex issue which has three distinct developmental phases.  It is both genetically given and developmentally learned depending upon the age of introduction. Generally, homosexuality can be divided into three groups, which I will call biologically given (Group I), Imprinted (Group II) and Experimental (Group III).

Each of these groups are clearly age-related in terms of identification, exposure and experience.  The first of these groups is the biologically given, probably hormonal dysfunction  while in utero.  The cause of this has been studied unsuccessfully.  There has been research on the double x y chromosome and a number of other genetic possibilities.  As we become more sophisticated there are a few hints at some other genetic and hormonal links but nothing conclusive.

Behaviorally this first group is self-identifying, typically by effeminate boys and tomboy girls.  By that I mean that each male or female in this category recognizes at a very early age (3-5) that they are different than their sexual peers.  The boys “know” and the girls “know” that they don’t fit with their sexual identity companions.  They feel that they are in the wrong skins i.e., the boys feel that they should have been girls and the girls believe that they should have been boys.  Parents may have noticed this difference and encouraged it either consciously or unconsciously, but in either case the parent did not cause this difference.

These children have interests that are similar to the opposite sex, their childhood games are of the opposite sex, and their identity is of the opposite sex.  I have absolutely no doubt that this group of homosexuals will eventually be found to be genetically or hormonally different than their peers from conception or first or second trimester of development.  This group is predetermined to be interested in the same sex as partners – they have no more “choice” than their peers have a “choice” to be heterosexual.  They cannot change, anymore than a heterosexual can purposefully “change” to be homosexual.  Group I individuals may spend years in conflict over societies desire for them to be “straight”. They may try program after program to convert them to their “right” sexuality.  All of this will be unsuccessful.

The second group (the imprinting group) is developmentally determined during the latency period  -when sexuality should be quiescent – between the ages of 6 or 7 and early onset of puberty – 10-12.  This group of individuals, male and female – have been approached by a member of the same sex – either another sexually precocious person or one in pubescence, or an adult.  They have been introduced to homosexuality frequently or repeatedly during this presumed quiescent period.  This “sexual” imprinting
by the same sex partner has a dramatic effect both physically and emotionally on the “normal” child.  Because of the power of sexual pleasure, it teaches sexuality long before the child is ready.  It also teaches desirability by the same sex initiator. Because this is normally a quiet period sexually, the same experience with the opposite sex seldom occurs leaving the unsuspecting child with the belief that homosexual contact is “normal” and reinforced by his or her being accepted by the same sex and not by a heterosexual sexually.  Indeed, at these early ages heterosexual acceptance is developmentally inappropriate.  This often-reinforced experience may make him or her seek same sex partners at the ages when sexuality is generally forbidden.  This “imprinting” effect is a function of a number of partners and repeated sexual contact with the same sex at the ages of 6-7 to 10-12.

In this group as they reach adolescence, they struggle with the question of their sexual identity but more often than not they “know” that they are going to select the same sex partner.  There may be sexual exploration with opposite sex partners during adolescence but their inexperience with them and their discomfort with the same sex partner over-rules.  Occasionally a very successful heterosexual experience may sway them but only to confuse them further.  They have been successfully imprinted.
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