The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

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The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby setzer777 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 3:52 pm UTC

This is something that's been rolling around in my head a bit: given the existence of trans people, intersex people, and people with ambiguous gender presentation, it seems like one could reasonably say that you can't know for sure if a person is a man or a woman unless you ask them. However, for a lot of people (it seems like most people) sexual attraction can easily occur just from looking at someone and/or having shallow interactions with a person where they have no idea what's going on in that person's brain.

Given the above, would it make sense to say that heterosexuality and homosexuality usually refer to attraction (or lack thereof) to a person's primary and secondary sex characteristics, as well as their gender presentation, rather than to their actual sex or gender?
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:29 pm UTC

What is a person's "actual" sex or gender? Is it simply whatever they say it is? I mean, I think when I say I am gay, it is already assumed that I mean I am attracted to those primary (and secondary) sex characteristics that mark an individual as male, plus an at least nominally male gender presentation. I have been very very attracted to individuals who I interpreted as male, but later found out that they identify themselves as female. I didn't exactly stop being attracted to them because of this-- but it did mean that nothing was going to happen between us.

This is one of those things where there is so much variance that it's difficult to call it anything. Some gay men are willing to date transwomen. Some gay men are willing to date transmen. Some gay men will not date people they know to be trans. I would argue that all three of those groups of gay men are still gay; but then, I think it's also possible to be gay and have some sexual interest in women. Sexuality is complicated. Trying to nail down these categories...it just creates more categories.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:44 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:Given the above, would it make sense to say that heterosexuality and homosexuality usually refer to attraction (or lack thereof) to a person's primary and secondary sex characteristics, as well as their gender presentation, rather than to their actual sex or gender?
People--their sexual attraction to other people--and the rituals we go through to express and clarify that sexual attraction--are all enormously complex. A straight dude might be attracted to another dude because that dude looks like a lady, but once he finds out that dude has a penis, deal's off. Another dude might be in the same situation but the penis isn't a deal-breaker; it's only whether or not the dude who looks like a lady identifies as a lady.

Something that I've come to realize--heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual--these are just words. They're poor attempts to label an enormous wealth of complexity concerning what we are and aren't attracted to. This is why I think of these terms as labels you choose to apply to yourself; if a lady likes other ladies and doesn't like having sex with men, but doesn't consider herself homosexual, she's not wrong--it's her choice to apply whatever labels she likes to herself. Like it or not, 'homosexual' isn't a precise scientific term--it can't be. We as a culture won't allow it (which is a shame, but what can you do?). It carries with it all sorts of political, cultural, and identity-based baggage. Opting out of that is totally your call, and I say we should support anyone who makes that call.

When someone says 'I'm gay', I take this as code for 'I prefer people who identify as my own gender', and I try not to make many assumptions beyond that. But in the end, human sexuality is a very fuzzy thing, and I don't think that's a bad thing--if we're confused, we can always ask for clarification ("do you prefer dudes? or just people who look like dudes, but don't identify as dudes?").
Puppyclaws wrote:I think it's also possible to be gay and have some sexual interest in women. Sexuality is complicated. Trying to nail down these categories...it just creates more categories.
Totally agree. I'm loathe to talk about creating systems for this (Kinsey's scale comes to mind), if only because systems have the disadvantage of always leaving someone out in the cold. Being clear and communicative about our attraction--and the stipulations we have for that attraction--seems like the best route.

EDIT: I also think it's very healthy to expand our sexuality--to become more and more inclusive, to be attracted to more and more things, more and more types of people--but--I don't think it's healthy to try and coerce people into expanding their sexuality. Exerting pressure to get people to be more expansive about their sexuality is bad; actively attempting to expand your own sexuality on your own is good, even great. What this translates to is basically--experiment! Find other consenting adults who you feel some attraction toward but who aren't usually your thing and see what happens. The worst is that neither of you are satisfied; the best is that you discover that you aren't as hard-coded when it comes to sex as you thought you were.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:22 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:This is something that's been rolling around in my head a bit: given the existence of trans people, intersex people, and people with ambiguous gender presentation, it seems like one could reasonably say that you can't know for sure if a person is a man or a woman unless you ask them. However, for a lot of people (it seems like most people) sexual attraction can easily occur just from looking at someone and/or having shallow interactions with a person where they have no idea what's going on in that person's brain.

Given the above, would it make sense to say that heterosexuality and homosexuality usually refer to attraction (or lack thereof) to a person's primary and secondary sex characteristics, as well as their gender presentation, rather than to their actual sex or gender?


It's a complicated problem. Sexual attraction is probably part biology and part socialization, and the interplay between them is complex. I don't think if the words homosexual or heterosexual alone are sufficient to categorize the spectrum of sexually, unless, as I note below, you want to define it strictly in terms of biology, which I think misses an awful lot of the nuance in the discussion.

Puppyclaws wrote:What is a person's "actual" sex or gender?


Isn't it normally that "sex" refers to what biological parts you have, and "gender" refers to how you behave socially? If so, then I'd assume that "sex" is always well-defined for all people.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Shivahn » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:25 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Isn't it normally that "sex" refers to what biological parts you have, and "gender" refers to how you behave socially? If so, then I'd assume that "sex" is always well-defined for all people.

You'd assume pretty wrongly then :P

Intersex is a thing, and it's not a rare thing. Depending on definitions, it can be up to one percent of the population.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby LaserGuy » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:56 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Isn't it normally that "sex" refers to what biological parts you have, and "gender" refers to how you behave socially? If so, then I'd assume that "sex" is always well-defined for all people.

You'd assume pretty wrongly then :P

Intersex is a thing, and it's not a rare thing. Depending on definitions, it can be up to one percent of the population.


If you're saying that there are people that can't be classified as biologically male or female, I agree that those categories are not exhaustive. Is there enough variation that it becomes impossible to create useful classifications at all?

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:58 pm UTC

Shivahn wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Isn't it normally that "sex" refers to what biological parts you have, and "gender" refers to how you behave socially? If so, then I'd assume that "sex" is always well-defined for all people.

You'd assume pretty wrongly then :P

Intersex is a thing, and it's not a rare thing. Depending on definitions, it can be up to one percent of the population.

It's a fairly reasonable assessment of the make up of things. Intersex is a fairly amorphous term to indicate 'not immediately obvious' or 'possessing mixed sexual traits', being either anatomical or genetic.

The problem is defining one's 'sex' by any given biological metric still doesn't result in a perfect binary. I'm personally comfortable using the word 'sex' to talk about gross physical make up, and using 'gender' to identify how you personally identify, but I'm sure plenty of people use the words interchangeably.

To be really clear though, that definition of sex really doesn't produce a perfect binary, which doesn't make it 'more' or 'less' useful, but certainly isn't clear cut. But yes, there are a bunch of things you can point to and say 'probably male' or 'probably female'.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby setzer777 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:30 pm UTC

Hmm, I agree that trying too hard to fit things into categories causes problems. I think the nature of language itself is such that few non-technical categories have clear boundaries. I do think categories can still be useful, as long as you don't try to cram people into them.

I do think that, generally speaking, for people who have restrictive sexual orientations the restriction is not primarily based on a potential interest's self-identification, but on real or perceived physical and/or emotional differences between members of the broad categories "male" and "female".
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Griffin » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:47 pm UTC

Few technical categories have clear boundaries, either, and what few exist do so because we intentionally made them that way.

People fucking love categories, though.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:00 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:I do think that, generally speaking, for people who have restrictive sexual orientations the restriction is not primarily based on a potential interest's self-identification, but on real or perceived physical and/or emotional differences between members of the broad categories "male" and "female".
Oh yeah, absolutely. Tons of people say "I'm gay" not because they're making some political statement, but because they want you to realize who they do and don't want to have sex with that.

But there's a subtle distinction here between the statement "I'm gay" and "I prefer having sex with people of my own gender" that needs to be made, I think. Because if a dude says "I'm not gay", and in the next breath tells me he's only attracted to other dudes, I don't parse that as a contradiction. Maybe the dude in question doesn't have sex at all, thereby rendering his preference meaningless (to qualify as gay, must I actively seek gay sex? What if I'm attracted to men, but actively avoid all matters of sexuality? Do I still qualify?). Maybe 'gay', for him, carries a certain political or ideological baggage he wants to distance himself from. Maybe he's just weird, and doesn't like the word 'gay'.

That's the thing about our terminology here--like 'man' and 'woman', it's fuzzy. And that fuzziness needs to make enough room for people who might otherwise fall through the cracks. Gay conversion therapies spring to mind, for example--if I say I'm gay, go to 'conversion therapy', and emerge with the claim that I'm no longer gay, should you believe me? Absolutely--you don't need to accept that sexual preference is some sort of modular attribute we can adjust with 'therapy'--you just need to accept that 'gay' is a term that only applies to me when I want it to. Now, you don't have to believe me when I say I'm no longer sexually attracted to dudes... because that's actually a very specific, non-fuzzy claim (and one we could disprove scientifically, to boot).

My point here is that while "I'm gay" has its uses as a phrase to announce "I only want to have sex with people of my own gender", we also need to acknowledge that, depending on context, it can be fuzzy and confusing, and because of that fuzziness, we need to be careful we don't assign it to people who don't want it. In a strange sense, while we might not choose our preferences, we certainly choose how we identify ourselves--and identifying ourselves as 'homosexual' is part of that.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:05 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:I do think that, generally speaking, for people who have restrictive sexual orientations the restriction is not primarily based on a potential interest's self-identification, but on real or perceived physical and/or emotional differences between members of the broad categories "male" and "female".


I guess what confuses me is that it sounds like you don't think that this is how people already see these orientations. When people talk about orientation, particularly other peoples' orientation, they are most often talking about attraction to others in relation to real physical differences, not gender identifications. I don't think people interpret "heterosexual" as meaning "attracted to people who identify as the opposite gender;" they interpret it as "attracted to people who are the opposite sex."

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Griffin » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:51 pm UTC

Puppyclaws wrote:they interpret it as "attracted to people who are the opposite sex."

Rather, "attracted to people who look like they are of the opposite sex".

And also, that's basically what the quote was saying, no?
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Shivahn » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:29 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:If you're saying that there are people that can't be classified as biologically male or female, I agree that those categories are not exhaustive. Is there enough variation that it becomes impossible to create useful classifications at all?


Izawwlgood wrote:To be really clear though, that definition of sex really doesn't produce a perfect binary, which doesn't make it 'more' or 'less' useful, but certainly isn't clear cut. But yes, there are a bunch of things you can point to and say 'probably male' or 'probably female'.


Yeah, I mangled my point, but it was basically that last part of Izawwlgood's statement - there's no perfect binary, and pretty much any system is gonna have fuzzy edge cases.

Basically, I was arguing specifically against the claim that it's well-defined for all individuals - any simple categorization is going to be flat out bad, containing elements in each set that obviously don't belong, and any scheme that takes these complications into account is going to have individuals whose membership is not well-defined (i.e., the categories are unlikely to be entirely exclusive). The only way to get an exhaustive categorization is really through an "other" category, and I'd argue that miscellaneous categories are inherently comprised of elements that are not well-defined.

I guess my point was a lot more pedantic than I thought it was at first. I didn't mean to imply that categorization is useless in the presence of ambiguous members.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:30 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:
Puppyclaws wrote:they interpret it as "attracted to people who are the opposite sex."

Rather, "attracted to people who look like they are of the opposite sex".

And also, that's basically what the quote was saying, no?


No, not look like. Are. The implication in culture at large is not that straight men are attracted to people who look like women, it is that they are attracted to people who are women. I agree with The Great Hippo that it is possible for a straight man to be attracted to a person who has male genitalia and still be straight; society at large does not appear to agree.

And, as I read it, Setzer777 seemed to be suggesting that this was not how we look at things generally. That was my point; if he's saying that he doesn't think that sexuality is viewed in those terms already, I disagree with him on that.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby morriswalters » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:51 pm UTC

As a heterosexual I can say with absolute certainty that I have been attracted to men who I thought were women. I hesitate to speak to what I might have done when it was important to me, and I had been presented with that kind of decision.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby setzer777 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:52 pm UTC

Yeah, I'm suggesting that the traditional definitions of "heterosexual", "homosexual", and "bisexual" either ignore or deny the possibility of trans people (among others).
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Puppyclaws » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:12 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:As a heterosexual I can say with absolute certainty that I have been attracted to men who I thought were women. I hesitate to speak to what I might have done when it was important to me, and I had been presented with that kind of decision.


I have trouble necessarily considering this attraction. As a gay dude, if I meet somebody who presents as male and am attracted to them physically, then discover they are physically female, I am no longer attracted to them. Had I known this in the first place, I would not have had an attraction to them. I wouldn't say I'm attracted to people who look like men; I would say I am attracted to men.

The traditional categories ignore a lot, but I think it's generally assumed that the average individual's response to attraction regarding trans and intersex individuals is case-by-case.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Sizik » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:17 am UTC

Puppyclaws wrote:As a gay dude, if I meet somebody who presents as male and am attracted to them physically, then discover they are physically female, I am no longer attracted to them. Had I known this in the first place, I would not have had an attraction to them. I wouldn't say I'm attracted to people who look like men; I would say I am attracted to men.


But you could still find them (physically) attractive, even though you're no longer (mentally) attracted to them.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby najradanti » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:23 am UTC

Puppyclaws wrote:I have trouble necessarily considering this attraction. As a gay dude, if I meet somebody who presents as male and am attracted to them physically, then discover they are physically female, I am no longer attracted to them. Had I known this in the first place, I would not have had an attraction to them. I wouldn't say I'm attracted to people who look like men; I would say I am attracted to men.

The traditional categories ignore a lot, but I think it's generally assumed that the average individual's response to attraction regarding trans and intersex individuals is case-by-case.


the bolded phrasing there is extremely problematic given what you are saying (that if you discover someone is "physically female" you are no longer attracted to them, in conjunction with the bolded "I wouldn't say I'm attracted to people who look like men; I would say I am attracted to men.") the way you have phrased that implies heavily that people who are "physically female" merely look like, but are not really, men.

i am not saying that you need be attracted to trans men, but i am saying that the way you have phrased this non-attraction of yours invalidates trans men's identities.

my (gay male) partner also is attracted very exclusively to men, so far as he has been able to tell up to this point in his life. this has not stopped him being attracted to me at all, despite whatever's between my legs. i am a man and he is attracted to men. there is no problem there!

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby setzer777 » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:38 am UTC

Yeah, that's pretty much what I'm talking about. I'd also suggest that almost nobody is primarily attracted to someone based on their self-identification - for example, imagine a trans man who presents 100% as female (to keep his job, or due to social pressure, etc.). It's a good guess that a gay man or a straight woman will not be attracted to someone who by all physical and social markers appears to be a woman.

It seems like the only reasonable alternative to denying that trans people are really the gender they identify as is to conclude that sexual orientation is typically centered around physical traits and gender presentation, rather than whether someone is a man or a woman.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby morriswalters » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:47 am UTC

Sex happens in the mind. Trans gender people are whatever they think they are, but peoples reactions to them will be based on very deeply seated biases. Expectation is the key for me. If I expect one thing and find another then I will react based on my biases. Be they good or bad.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby omgryebread » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:59 am UTC

setzer777 wrote:Yeah, that's pretty much what I'm talking about. I'd also suggest that almost nobody is primarily attracted to someone based on their self-identification - for example, imagine a trans man who presents 100% as female (to keep his job, or due to social pressure, etc.). It's a good guess that a gay man or a straight woman will not be attracted to someone who by all physical and social markers appears to be a woman.

It seems like the only reasonable alternative to denying that trans people are really the gender they identify as is to conclude that sexual orientation is typically centered around physical traits and gender presentation, rather than whether someone is a man or a woman.
I'd agree with you, with a caveat. Some straight men are repulsed by post-op trans women, even ones that are conventionally attractive. So given a lack of information about sexual identity, physical traits and presentation are the key factors, but once information is available, it may affect attraction.

Pretty sure it was on an episode of Jerry Springer I saw at a Mr. Tire one time. Bunch of dudes freaked out when their attractive girlfriends told them they were post-op.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:53 am UTC

omgryebread wrote:Bunch of dudes freaked out when their attractive girlfriends told them they were post-op.

Surely you see this as a product of homophobia though, right? The idea being 'if I'm attracted to someone who was once a male, as a male, then surely I'm gay, and being gay is the bad'. I don't think it's a very rational position, but I don't think it's terribly surprising.

Puppyclaws wrote: As a gay dude, if I meet somebody who presents as male and am attracted to them physically, then discover they are physically female, I am no longer attracted to them. Had I known this in the first place, I would not have had an attraction to them. I wouldn't say I'm attracted to people who look like men; I would say I am attracted to men.

This strikes me as odd. In my mind, this indicates you have overriding negative associations with women (notice I don't say 'females'). I feel the opposite way; I've been attracted to individuals who present as women, found out they were male, and been surprised at how little my attraction to them changed.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:59 am UTC

Sometime in the next few centuries, medicine will advance to the point where changing genders will be about as difficult as changing socks. I just have to wonder about the culture in such a society. Is it gay for a guy turned into a girl to have sex with a guy born as a guy, but ok if it was a girl turned into a guy?
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:04 am UTC

You know, I can't for the life of me remember the name of the short story, but it's about a cure for cancer being discovered that has the strange side effect of switching your sex. Completely reversible. The drug completely changes the face of society as three generations of people go by and acceptance of gender bending becomes normalized. It was a very interesting read.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:09 am UTC

Ok, this is going to sound weird or maybe bigoted, but I want to know the answer. Are some trans men squicked by sex with trans women, or vice versa? Assuming they are attracted to women, or men. I don't know how "straight" and "gay" even fit in when gender is complicated.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Bsob » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:49 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
omgryebread wrote:Bunch of dudes freaked out when their attractive girlfriends told them they were post-op.

Surely you see this as a product of homophobia though, right? The idea being 'if I'm attracted to someone who was once a male, as a male, then surely I'm gay, and being gay is the bad'. I don't think it's a very rational position, but I don't think it's terribly surprising.

Attraction is at its heart a biological imperative. When a person finds out there is zero chance of reproduction with another person, it seems pretty natural(and rational) to become less attracted to them. Dismissing it as homophobia seems pretty condescending.

As an aside, if someone I was in an emotional relationship with was withholding a pretty important piece of who they were from me, and decided that on television was the best time and place to reveal that to me; I'd freak out too.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:09 am UTC

Bsob wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:
omgryebread wrote:Bunch of dudes freaked out when their attractive girlfriends told them they were post-op.

Surely you see this as a product of homophobia though, right? The idea being 'if I'm attracted to someone who was once a male, as a male, then surely I'm gay, and being gay is the bad'. I don't think it's a very rational position, but I don't think it's terribly surprising.

Attraction is at its heart a biological imperative. When a person finds out there is zero chance of reproduction with another person, it seems pretty natural(and rational) to become less attracted to them. Dismissing it as homophobia seems pretty condescending.

As an aside, if someone I was in an emotional relationship with was withholding a pretty important piece of who they were from me, and decided that on television was the best time and place to reveal that to me; I'd freak out too.

If the issue was merely 'we cannot reproduce together', then I can actually quite understand it. But I sincerely doubt that was what was at play here, at least superficially. Similarly, a previously poster just said that they were a gay male who felt all attraction cancelled upon discovering someone they WERE attracted to was actually a female; my point is that 'attraction' isn't only based on reproductive urges.

Also, I think the sort of people who would agree to go on television to get news about their relationship aren't the sort of individuals who have considered nuanced opinions on... anything.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Ulc » Wed Apr 25, 2012 8:06 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
omgryebread wrote:Bunch of dudes freaked out when their attractive girlfriends told them they were post-op.

Surely you see this as a product of homophobia though, right? The idea being 'if I'm attracted to someone who was once a male, as a male, then surely I'm gay, and being gay is the bad'. I don't think it's a very rational position, but I don't think it's terribly surprising.


Not necessarily. Considering the medium (people talking about relationships on tv) it's quite possible, maybe even likely. But it's not necessarily the explanation in all cases, people can be gay and transphobic (and I'm even told by gay and trans friends that it's fairly common).

But then, a few gay friends have also mentioned running into people that were gay and homophobic, which must feel awful.

As an aside, if someone I was in an emotional relationship with was withholding a pretty important piece of who they were from me, and decided that on television was the best time and place to reveal that to me; I'd freak out too.


That's the most baffling thing about that situation yes - how can you live in a relationship and withhold something that most definitely have filled a lot in your life, and consider it functional? No matter my attraction, I'd by sad (at the very least) that it implicitly means that my partner didn't trust me with their big stuff.


Anyway, doesn't this topic basically come down to the fact that labels aren't orientations, but words chosen to make communication easier?
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Dr. Diaphanous
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Dr. Diaphanous » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:07 am UTC

I have nothing to add except this article about how hard it is to divide people into 2 sexes (e.g. for the olympics).
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:55 pm UTC

Wasn't there some study that found something like 20-30% of Women Olympians tested positive for having a Y-chromosome?
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Apr 25, 2012 2:05 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Wasn't there some study that found something like 20-30% of Women Olympians tested positive for having a Y-chromosome?


Man: The superior female athlete?

But seriously, what sports would a steroid-laden man have the advantage over a steroid-laden woman? Yes, I admit I am biased against the Olympics and think most of them cheat. I ignore any event that is based purely on judgement calls, as they are so often political, such as gymnastics and figure skating. Even the team sports can be bullshit.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Apr 25, 2012 3:04 pm UTC

Uh, any event that doesn't require judges? For example, Women's track and field times have been steadily improving at a faster rate than mens for the last 50 years, but there's still a fairly wide margin between say, Usain Bolts 100m dash (9.76 or something?) and the 10.4 some odd seconds of the womens.

Although I agree, I think judged and refereed Olympic events are stupid.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:12 pm UTC

What is physically different between the man and the woman with the same amount of (illegal) hormones, that would affect the ability to perform? I don't think tall people run faster than short people, though I could be wrong; they might have a longer stride but it takes much more energy to move. I believe XY females don't normally go into puberty, so that might be helpful for gymnastics or something like that. But, again, I ignore any 'sport' where you can't objectively say who won.

I'm just trying to figure out why supposedly 1/5 of Olympic women have Y chromosomes, because I don't think that chromosomal abnormality is prevalent in 1/5 of all women.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Chen » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:38 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:What is physically different between the man and the woman with the same amount of (illegal) hormones, that would affect the ability to perform? I don't think tall people run faster than short people, though I could be wrong; they might have a longer stride but it takes much more energy to move. I believe XY females don't normally go into puberty, so that might be helpful for gymnastics or something like that. But, again, I ignore any 'sport' where you can't objectively say who won.


A longer stride is definitely an advantage in the shorter distance events (such as sprinting). When endurance starts to come into play I presume the advantage would lessen steadily.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby induction » Wed Apr 25, 2012 4:46 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:What is physically different between the man and the woman with the same amount of (illegal) hormones, that would affect the ability to perform? I don't think tall people run faster than short people, though I could be wrong; they might have a longer stride but it takes much more energy to move. I believe XY females don't normally go into puberty, so that might be helpful for gymnastics or something like that. But, again, I ignore any 'sport' where you can't objectively say who won.

I'm just trying to figure out why supposedly 1/5 of Olympic women have Y chromosomes, because I don't think that chromosomal abnormality is prevalent in 1/5 of all women.


Here's some stuff. Useful bit:

The lumbar curve is greater in women and the pelvis is tilted anteriorly (anteversion), which makes for the sway-backed appearance often found in women. If the waist in women is longer and smaller, it is because the thorax is more constricted at the base and the pelvis is generally not as high.

The most important difference between the male and female skeletons is found at the level of the pelvis. The female pelvis is adapted for gestation: it is not as high and is proportionately wider than that of the male. The sacrum of the female is wider and the pelvic ring is wider and more circular to facilitate the passage of the newborn. As the pelvic ring is wider, the acetabula (the fossa in which the heads of the femurs lodge) are farther apart, which increases the distance between the greater trochanters and consequently the width of the hips.

Greater hip width in women influences the position of the femurs, which are often more angled than in men, giving them a slight X shape.


The pelvis sits lower and the femurs attach at a lower point on the pelvis. Longer femurs presumably give a speed advantage.

This is all just averages of course.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby jakovasaur » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:01 am UTC

Chen wrote:A longer stride is definitely an advantage in the shorter distance events (such as sprinting). When endurance starts to come into play I presume the advantage would lessen steadily.

I thought it's the other way around. Sprinters are generally more compact, while distance runners are long and lean.

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby lutzj » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:19 pm UTC

jakovasaur wrote:
Chen wrote:A longer stride is definitely an advantage in the shorter distance events (such as sprinting). When endurance starts to come into play I presume the advantage would lessen steadily.

I thought it's the other way around. Sprinters are generally more compact, while distance runners are long and lean.


Long and lean perhaps, but not necessarily 2m tall. "Leanness" is measured relative to one's height and bone structure. Distance running is all about efficiency and I wouldn't be surprised if a woman beat a man in a theoretical 1000-mile race where the advantages of being larger (longer stride, greater lung capacity, higher maximum water/carbohydrate reserves) disappear completely.
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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Lady Amarynth » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:04 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Sometime in the next few centuries, medicine will advance to the point where changing genders will be about as difficult as changing socks.


I always wonder whether it is actually possible to have an orgasm after having your genitalia altered or changed to the opposite. Since I do know for example, that "making" a vagina implies making a little dell with a skin graft and then you have to train your tissue regulary to stretch with progressively bigger and longer cylinders, until your "vagina" has the size you wish to aquire. And since usually the clitoris is the most sensitive part of the female genitalia, I really wonder how they downsize and relocate the tip of the penis so that you can still feel as much as before...and since one can feel the cervix very easily in a grown vagina, I would say, one could identify if a vagina was made or grown. And how do they get the artifical genitalia to have the usual coloring of the intimate parts?

These are just many of the details of gender change I wonder about.

induction wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:What is physically different between the man and the woman with the same amount of (illegal) hormones, that would affect the ability to perform? I don't think tall people run faster than short people, though I could be wrong; they might have a longer stride but it takes much more energy to move. I believe XY females don't normally go into puberty, so that might be helpful for gymnastics or something like that. But, again, I ignore any 'sport' where you can't objectively say who won.

I'm just trying to figure out why supposedly 1/5 of Olympic women have Y chromosomes, because I don't think that chromosomal abnormality is prevalent in 1/5 of all women.


The lumbar curve is greater in women and the pelvis is tilted anteriorly (anteversion), which makes for the sway-backed appearance often found in women. If the waist in women is longer and smaller, it is because the thorax is more constricted at the base and the pelvis is generally not as high.

The most important difference between the male and female skeletons is found at the level of the pelvis. The female pelvis is adapted for gestation: it is not as high and is proportionately wider than that of the male. The sacrum of the female is wider and the pelvic ring is wider and more circular to facilitate the passage of the newborn. As the pelvic ring is wider, the acetabula (the fossa in which the heads of the femurs lodge) are farther apart, which increases the distance between the greater trochanters and consequently the width of the hips.

Greater hip width in women influences the position of the femurs, which are often more angled than in men, giving them a slight X shape.



The Olympic athletes do not represent an average sample of population. An explanation for such a high percentage of XY females would be, that they often excel at sports, because their bodies produce normal amounts of androgens, but no gonadotropins (oestrogens/testosterons) to regulate the androgens. Androgens are often abused to push an athletes performance. And if you observe female athletes, many of them do not have very curvy shapes, but more like male athletes. Since you can flatten your breasts and butt with building a lot of muscle and reducing body fat percentage (oestrogen stores in fat), you cannot tell the difference between a well trained XX female and XY females that trained as well, but would be "flatter" anyway. And it is normal for XX female athletes to not menstruate, so that that the XY female athlete is no different. And because most of the athletes train since childhood, nobody realizes, that those symptoms are from a chromosomal difference, instead of just a hell lot of sport.
There are many different kind of chromosomal variations and the associated phenotypes, but usually, a person, that appears female, but has XY, does not have the normal amount of hormones, since the gonads (ovaries or testicles) are underdeveloped. When a baby grows, if there are no testicles to shower it with testosterone, it will end up with female genitalia. And the abovementioned shape-difference of the male and female pelvic only develops in puberty and since the XY female do not have that much oestrogen, because of the underdeveloped gonads, the hips do not widen.

I do not guarantee, that all I said is correct, since endocrinology is a very wide and complicated field, but I tried to make sense ;)

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Re: The nature of sex and sexual orientation.

Postby Puppyclaws » Thu Apr 26, 2012 5:11 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Puppyclaws wrote: As a gay dude, if I meet somebody who presents as male and am attracted to them physically, then discover they are physically female, I am no longer attracted to them. Had I known this in the first place, I would not have had an attraction to them. I wouldn't say I'm attracted to people who look like men; I would say I am attracted to men.

This strikes me as odd. In my mind, this indicates you have overriding negative associations with women (notice I don't say 'females'). I feel the opposite way; I've been attracted to individuals who present as women, found out they were male, and been surprised at how little my attraction to them changed.


So the reason gay men are not in general attracted to people with vaginas is that we have secret underlying psychological problems with females. Oh, please, tell me more.


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