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Sexual Identity and Gender Identity

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Apr 22nd 2016

Sexual Identity and Gender Identity.

There are some aspects of identity that cannot be taken for granted, including sexual identity and gender identity. While most people are born prepared to feel comfortable with their body's gender, and to desire sexual contact with members of the opposite sex upon sexual maturity, there have always been a minority of people who do not fit this mold. Homosexual people are attracted to same-sex partners. Transgendered individuals are born feeling that they are actually a member of the opposite sex wearing the wrong body type, external characteristics to the contrary. The exact reasons for why these variations of human sexuality occur are not known definitively, but what evidence there is points to the influence of varying hormone levels on fetal brain development during pregnancy. Hormones appear to determine sexual preferences, and to condition the brain to think of itself as male or female. While homosexual and transgendered individuals can choose to not engage in sex at all (like any heterosexual person might), they seem to have little choice over who they are attracted to, or how they think of themselves.

There is widespread prejudice against homosexual people today, and even more prejudice against trans-gendered people. Consequently, the majority of homosexual and transgendered individuals are not comfortable expressing themselves or exploring their preferences freely as children and developing adolescents. Many attempt to deny the reality of their sexuality and try to fit themselves into a heterosexual mold, making themselves miserable in the process. The teen suicide rate within these populations is correspondingly high. Due to prejudice and intense social pressure to conform, people with homosexual and transgendered preferences face special challenges in coming of age that heterosexual people do not ever face. The influence of sexuality on identity is thus large, and the potential for sexuality-related issues to occur very real.

  • Are you comfortable as a man (if you are male) or do you think you might be a woman in a man's body.
  • Are you comfortable as a woman (if you are female) or do you think you might be a man in a woman's body.
  • Are you attracted to same sex partners, opposite sex partners, or to both same and opposite sex partners? If you are attracted to same sex partners, are you comfortable sharing this knowledge with sympathetic people? Have you told your family?
  • Are you comfortable with your sexuality? Are you ever ashamed of yourself or your desires?
  • Have you suffered negative consequences of prejudice against homosexual or transgender sexuality?


Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

my orientation - shabnam siddique - Oct 24th 2016

I am a man of 47 years. i was normal in my child hood. not a singal sign of gay or girly. but after my marriage failed i turned towards trans people. i begin with searching them on net after few years i started cross dressing and by the age of 45 i indulged into gay sex but it was just like one night stand after that i became straight again. again after 1 yr i started searching men on net and indulge wd 2 ppl in 2 different occassions its all most 2 years now.once again i am feling urge of crossdressing and again searching a man. what went wrong with me. is this emotional issue or endochrinological issue?


Hermorphadites have it rougher. - Connie - Sep 12th 2011

Think homosexuality is bad. I was born a Hermorphradite with a full set of functioning female organs internally, but no vagina. Istead I have a micro penis about tye same size as an infant's. And when I was 16 my testicles had not descended, became a problem and had to be surgically removed. So here I am with a woman's body measuring 5'4", weighing 126 pounds and measuring 33B-23-35.  My face is borderline, could be ale or female. I do not have a beard of hardly any body hair. But those damned testicles changed my voice.  So here I have a woman's body in almost all regards and yes I am attracted sexually to men. Yes I am lonely because I can't be accepted by either sex. Gays, Lesbians and Bis don't want anything to do with me either. For many years I have sought help being turned down everywhere. And because i am neither here or there it is impossible to find employment.  No matter what a person's sexuality is, we all need the companionship of a real partner. While it might not be sex, it must be along the lines of something such as romance and intamacy. I am denied it all. Not a single organization has helped GLBT did absolutely nothing.  I spent several hundred thousand over the years and got nowhere. Mental Health people proved the worst of all. They wanted to convince me to be a man. Doctors wanted to make me a man by creating a larger appendage and install a pump device for erections. One even suggested a cadaver penis transplant. No matter what I tried I could not convince them to help me be the woman I knew I was since age 3 or 4.  Life sucks and it only gets worse.

Truly Good People - Adam - Jun 10th 2009

I find a lot of personal conflicts in myself mentioned in chapter 2, this being one of them. It is very hard to see and feel very differently from everyone you know, but even so, you become aware of who is a truly good individual in the process. Despite the fact that homosexual relationships are prohibited in many major religions, I do believe that the pain of the experience may also open an individual to a deeper level for compassion toward their brothers, so long as it's not a purely sexual desire, and so long as you don't lose faith in the idea that there are truly good people out there.

Understanding - Brittaney - Jan 8th 2008
As a little child my older brother used me in sexual acts and after he was finished with me he told me many things, that I was a lesbian and I believed him. At the time my family was very religious and still is and I punished myself for being what "Their God" thought was wrong and evil. So the point of my story is you aren't alone and not all people hate or discriminate against people like us. I'm so glad this article isn't bias so thank you for your understanding.

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