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Constructs of Sexual Orientation and Identity
Sexual orientation- How individuals define their primary, enduring sexual activities and emotionally intimate feelings.
- Conceptualized on a continuum where exclusive heterosexuality is at one end and exclusive homosexuality is at the other. Bisexuality lies between these
- two poles
The term came into existence in 1869 in a pamphlet authored by a German-Hungarian writer
As a term, today it has been replaced with others that include Gay persons, Lesbians, Gay men
The generic “gay” tends to include both men and women, but the term “lesbian” refers only to women
Persons who identify their sexual orientation as exclusively or primarily “gay” find sexual an emotional intimacy with members of their own sex.
A sexual and emotional enduring attraction to both sexes.
Term first applied to human sexuality in a work by Krafft-Ebing in 1892
Did not come into general usage until the 1950’s
Those identified as bisexual find sexual and emotional satisfaction with members of either sex.
Came into general usage in the early 1990’s
First used to describe those who appeared as members of the opposite sex (cross-dressers) or a transsexual
The term has come to forge a distinction between sexual identity and gender identity.
Sexual identity is viewed as being biologically determined based on genetic make up (chromosomes)
Gender identity is based on one’s personal ideology about being either female or male
A trans-gender person’s gender roles and identity diverge from the gender roles normally associated with his or her biological sex (or sexual identity)
Primary difference between homosexuals and bisexuals and transgender is that gays, lesbians and bisexuals are comfortable with their biological sex and tend to conform to fairly normative gender identity roles. Those who are transgender reject their biological sex in favor of their perceived views of gender.
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals identify and define themselves based on sexual orientation while those who are transgendered identify themselves based on gender identity.
As of 2000 there were approximately 307,410,000 people living in the United States
According to the 2000 census, 9.7% of people were living in same-sex households.
Guesstimates that there is between 10-15% of the total population are gay or lesbian
Estimates of those who see themself as bisexual is between 1-2%
- Human Rights Campaign (2009) estimates that between 0.25-1% of the total population would be
- considered trans-gendered
Gay/Lesbian life and Culture
It has been argued that there is no actual lesbian/ gay culture apart from mainstream society
It is generally accepted that the more than 29 million gay/ lesbian persons in the U.S. do constitute a defined entity that can be viewed as having its own culture.
There exists and identifiable gay/lesbian segment of the larger society that is unique in its structure and beliefs (Tully 2000)
Transgender Life and Culture
Transgender population of the U.S. is small- estimates about 700,000 – 3 million
The term “transgender is an umbrella under which various groups fit.
It includes those that do not conform to normative gender rolls, but also includes transsexuals and cross-dressers
- Transsexuals are defined as a segment of the transgendered population who wish to live there
- lives as members of a of the opposite sex (opposite from their original biological sex) and who are at some stage of undergoing sexual reassignment
Cross-dressers or transvestites are individuals who choose to wear apparel of the opposite sex (either entirely or in part)
Difficult to determine if there exists a distinct transgender culture.
Those who comprise the transgender population is a small, extremely diverse subculture within the dominant culture who, because of unique social service needs.
Bisexual life and culture
Generally perceived as individuals who have a physical sexual attraction or romantic/emotional connections to both sexes.
- Hard to distinguish who specifically comprise the bisexual population- Data suggests between 1-2%
- of the population in the U.S. may be bisexual
Tends to be an invisible population in both the heterosexual and gay subculture.
History of Homosexuality
The term “homosexuality” did not come into being until 1869: German- Hungarian writer Karl Maria Kertbeny included it in a pamphlet he wrote.
The decades between 1900-1980 are seen a important to the gay rights movement.
Homosexuality moved from being viewed as a sin, criminal act, or mental illness to being perceived as simply an acceptable lifestyle different from heterosexuality.
Early ideas were that these relationships were a perversion or mental illness has its roots in the medical communities developing views of sexuality as a scientific component.
History of Homosexuality
Newer scientific ideas were supplanting the more traditional church views of same-sex relationships as sinful.
Science was attempting to define what was “normal” human behavior- because the norm was heterosexual, homosexuality, by definition, became abnormal or deviant.
Homosexuality was defined as a mental illness-this persisted until the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality from the third edition of its diagnostic manual of mental disorders (DSM) in the early 1970’s
History of Homosexuality
Viewed as sinners in the eyes of many mainstream religious organizations.
- Many gays and lesbians created their own churches:
- Metropolitan Community Church
- Dignity in the Catholic Church
Greenwich village, NY 1969
GLBT stood up to police who were raiding the Stonewall Bar - originally they came to stop mob bosses
The riots turned violent with the throwing of coins, bottles, rocks, and other items
This was the first time the minority stood up and marked the beginning of the GL movement
Gay Liberation Front created shortly after as well as a newspapers called Gay, Come Out, and Gay Power
Gay Activist Alliance was created later that year
Riots on gay bars ceased
History of Homosexuality
Law, Media, Prejudice
Many states, cities, jurisdictions have instituted legal protections for lesbian and gays to ensure equal protection.
Several states allow same-sex couples to legally marry, enter into civil unions, or adopt children together
Some companies include same-sex domestic partnership benefits equal to those provided to heterosexually married couples
In television gays and lesbian characters play visible roles.
The history of discrimination including torture, murder, stigmatization, and oppression dates back centuries
Enormous cultural stigmas still exist
Transgender Experience in Historic Context
Transgender movement emerged from 1910 when Magnus Hirschfeld, coined the term “transvestites”
Hirschfeld founded the Institute for Sexology in Berlin- First known clinic to treat transgendered people.
The term transsexual came into existence in 1923 when Hirschfeld distinguished between:
- Transsexuals -those who perceived themselves to be physiologically the wrong sex and wanted sexual reassignment
Transgender-term credited toVirginia Prince, who in the 1970’s referred to herself as a transgenderist
- Transgender begins to be used in the 1980s and has emerged as umbrella term that includes transvestites,
- transsexuals and intersexed (hermaphrodite) people
Transgender Experience in historic context
Organized advocacy groups and joined with established gay and lesbian organizations
Transphobia- refers to the irrational fear of transgendered persons.
Since 1970s more advances in medical treatment for transsexuals and small legislative changes that ban discrimination against transgender people and 93 cities have legislation prohibiting gender identify discrimination.
Bisexual in Historical context
Bisexual was coined in the 19th century when it was defined as an attraction to both sexes.
Bisexuality as we currently use the term came into general usage in 1950s
Excluded from the gay movement and alienated from organizations that were seen as heterosexual
1972 began the formation of The National Bisexual Liberation Group
1970-80-bisexuals systematically excluded from lesbian separatist groups = began forming bisexual networks.
- The North American Multicultural Bisexual Network, renamed BiNet: The bisexual Network of the USA- identifies itself as the umbrella organization for bisexuals, lesbians, gays, transgender, and questioning allies and friends
- (BiNet 2009)
When personal values conflict
- Do you encourage this behavior?
- Do you encourage the coming out process?
- How do you deal with family?