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A particular hardship that each person faces is being misunderstood by others. At some point, people experience interacting with others and recognize that the person they are communicating with does not understand who they are. How the person is expressing themselves is sometimes not discerned and appreciated. Those who deal with homosexuality, transgenderism, et cetera deal with this misunderstanding far worse. Homosexuality, transgenderism, and especially transsexuality have been misinterpreted throughout society. Because it is a concept that many cannot wrap their minds around, it can make it difficult to empathize.
What needs to be understood for all peoples is one, sexual orientation is a perpetual mental state. It is the sentiments and sexual allure towards others. Two, gender identity is how a person distinguishes and titles themselves. Three, gender expression is the appearance. Examples of gender expression is dressing choice, hairstyle, and/or voice projection of one’s gender identity. This usually is uncommon conduct of society (Human Rights Campaign). The overarching takeaway is the idea that sexual identity along with sexual orientation are things that are not made by choice, but rather are issues that are biologically controlled.
Sexual differentiation in the brain carries inherent alterations in the brain. The physiology also takes part in the alterations in the brain due to the interplay of evolving neurons and the environment. Factors that make up the environment are the nerve cells and the fetus’s hormones along with other hormones and chemical substances from the mother in the placenta (Swaab 17). These have indelible consequences on sexual differentiation of the brain.
The primary sex organs develop during the sixth week of pregnancy. The sex is determined by a sex-determining gene called the SRY. This is found on of the Y chromosome.
Testosterone, estrogens, and progesterone influence the fetus’s development. The hormone levels rise and later on “activates” puberty and the behaviors that were instilled during development. The masculinized and de – feminized direction for male brains or the feminized and de – masculinized direction for female brain are seen (Swaab 18). This is what is considered the foundation of sex differences and behaviors. Gender identity, sexual orientation, and sex differences related to cognition, aggressive behavior and language arrangement are the outcome from the hormones, while also advancing neurons co-functioning.
Self – recognition is a neuronal network that gives oneself the ability to recognize themselves. This network is within the fusiform gyrus. If this area of the brain is damaged, prosopagnosia occurs. In the 1970s several experiments administered upon chimpanzees where they were observed viewing themselves before a mirror and analyzing their behavior. After ten days the chimpanzees were anesthetized and were given a mark consisting of dye that was without odor. This mark was placed inconspicuously above the eyebrow. The same was done for chimpanzees in the control group. The control group did not have a mark and did not observe their behavior. Those with the mark inspected and even at times tried to remove the mark. What the researchers’ conclusion was that the self-recognition test is a gauge of autonomous realization (Self – recognition and the Prefrontal Cortex 339). This conclusion is connected to a theory named the Theory of Mind which indicates that a person’s capability to represent the psychological realm of another person. Even more so, it is the faculty to assess the mental state of others (343).
Prenatal environment can have an affect on sexual orientation and behavior. Maternal stress may also increase homosexuality occurrence in boys and girls while in the first trimester. A case in 1871, Marcel Proust’s mother became extremely stressed during the fifth month of her pregnancy. James I’s, the homosexual king of England, mother had an egregious occasion when she discovered her secretary and close friend were murdered during the end of her fifth month of pregnancy (Sex differences in the hypothalamus in the different stages of human life S3, S4).
Socialization does not effect sexual identity and sexual orientation. There is no evidence that socialization has effect on gender identity or sexual orientation. Rather it is noticed that although genitalia may appear as one sex, it may not be mirrored in the brain as such. Self – face recognition is seen to materialize when the child is about 18 months of age. Once the child reaches the second to third year of their life, they can associate themselves with the gender they had been assigned. A claim from a man named J. Money where he stated gender identity was not completed at birth but the sexual gender identity was fulfilled at 18 months of age. Therefore, if a male was born, the male could be turned into a female as long as the change was done before 18 months was completed (Schwaab 18). In the 1960 – 70s, a case disproved that gender identity can be reversed.
The case was named John – Joan – John. A mistake occurred in surgery where the little boy’s, John, penis was removed unintentionally. To correct this error, the surgeons additionally removed his testicles before the completion of the 18 months respecting the idea that self – face recognition would be solidified then. John was raised as a female under the name of Joan and was given estrogens during puberty and had psychological counseling. As time progressed, Joan reverted back to John, married, and adopted many children. In May 2004, he committed suicide. What this case identifies is that gender identity was not effected by the pressures of society, but was something that was embedded into the brain and being of John. Also because of society’s erroneous decision to choose John’s gender, it ultimately led to his death.
Socialization cannot be used as a valuable factor in providing evidence in influencing sexual orientation and behavior. Taking two lesbian mothers into consideration tend to raise a child who identifies as heterosexual. There is also no evidence that shows that homosexuality is simply a “lifestyle choice”. The correlation to sexual orientation show that brain structures like the SCN are shaped differently which does provide evidence that these networks that take form in development is the probable foundation of sexual orientation differences (Sex differences in the hypothalamus in the different stages of human life S13).
Delving further into the idea that gender identity is not reversible, observing males who suffered from having their genders change from male to female neonatally having doubted their feminine identity thrice as a minimum. This was noticed to oppose the idea that socialization is the dominating factor is aiding in gender identity. Other studies have considered androgens present or absent prenatally have an influence on the development of gender identity (Sexual Differentiation of the Human Brain 306).
There is a difference seen in brain structure when discussing sexual differentiation. Studying the sexual differentiation in rodents provides evidence that sex hormones do not regulate the differentiation. After researching dopaminergic neurons and the nascent rat brain shows that the dopaminergic neurons might form shape and physiology of sex diffrences when the sex steroids are not present (Sexual Differentiation of the Human Brain 303). In mice, it is seen that the microarray presents more than 50 genes that are expressed in sexually dimorphicity in the brain prior to sex organs are formed (303). How this connects to transsexuality is presenting the lack of correspondence of what was originally seen in the brain and pressing surgery to reassign the sex.
Transsexuals have been very observant of themselves when it relates to the inaccuracy of their assigned sex. There seems to be a sex difference seen in brain structure when it is correlated to transsexuality. In “A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality” describes a brain area called the BSTc that is dire for sexual behavior. Why this part of the brain was studied was due to is important role in rodent sexual behavior along with the many androgen and oestrogen receptors that were found in the BST. The BSTc was found larger in men than in women. In this experiment, the hypothalamus was studied from six male – to – female transsexuals and data was gathered for eleven years. The brain was observed as sexually dimorphic and not affected by sexual orientation. After studying the BST in rodents, the BST was said to be influenced by gonadal steroids. In human observation, the BSTc was 44% smaller in heterosexual women than in heterosexual men. Comparing heterosexual women to homosexual men, it was observed that homosexual men had a 62% largeness in the BSTc. From observing rodents. This shows that the BST is important in the masculine sexual behavior and the regulation of gonadotrophin release. Furthermore, the size of the BSTc and the nucleus may play a part in human sexual or reproductive occupations (68, 69).
BSTc volume is not influenced by the changes in sex hormone levels in adulthood. Each of the transsexuals were treated with oestrogen. The argument of the high levels of oestrogen in the blood caused the BSTc to minimize in size is rejected due to two transsexual subjects. Both had desisted in taking oestrogen due to health reasons, but their BSTc showed to be small and female – like. The researchers also observed a 31-year-old man was afflicted with a feminizing adrenal tumor. This raised the oestrogen blood levels but he still had a rather large BSTc. Nevertheless, the experiment did not find relationship between the size of the BSTc and sexual orientation, but did show that the size of BSTc was independent of it (70).
A different area of the brain is observed when trying to understand sexual orientation in humans. Since 1990, a brain difference was observed that was connected to sexual orientation. This was found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). When comparing the sizes of the homosexual man’s SCN versus the heterosexual man’s SCN, it was noticed that the SCN was twice the magnitude of a heterosexual man. This was also seen in rats neonatally when the interaction between testosterone and the brain was disrupted by the aromatase inhibitor ATD. This in turn produced bisexual adult rats with more vasopressin neurons and total cells in their suprachiasmatic nucleus.
When relating this finding back to homosexual men’s SCN, it was seen there was abnormal interaction between the emerging brain and sex hormones (Sexual orientation and its basis in brain structure and function 10273). The SCN shows sex differences in sleep. Because of the shape of SCN and and VIP – Expressing cell numbers propose there is a likelihood that there is a sex difference in circadian patterns (Discussion to ‘Sex Differences in the Hypothalamus in the Different Stages of Human Life 3.1). Greater percentages of slow – wave sleep and lesser percentages stage 1 sleep is found in women than in men. Women have more sleep spindles than men and sleep more in a free environment. The same can be said and observed in middle aged women. Though the circadian rhythm is shorter, it is still larger in women than in men. Testosterone has effects on sleep and hormones in men.
Pheromones are also seen to play a part in sexual orientation. In humans, the reproductive physiology is brought about by circuits in the anterior hypothalamus. The circuits are what integrate the sensory and hormonal cues that facilitate sexual behavior and perhaps sexual preference. The difference that has been found between homosexual and heterosexual men is the estrogen feedback. In heterosexual women and homosexual men, it was noticed that the signals were originated from AND, the derivative of gonadal progesterone, and processed by the anterior hypothalamus, a finding that was not similar in heterosexual men.
What AND has been recognized in urine, plasma, apocrine sweat, semen, and axillary hair (Pheromone Processing in Relation to Sex and Sexual Orientation 18.5). The most activation in the brain was found in the preoptic, bentromedial, and tuberomamillary nuclei. The signals from EST, estra – 1,3,5(10), 16—tetraen – 3 –ol, an odorous steroid that promote ovulation in women from smelling male sweat, in homosexual men were brought by the part of the brain that controls olfactory. Lesbian women were observed in a different study as well to get a more wholesome understanding of the odor – processing circuits. What was seen was lesbian women contrasted from heterosexual women because the lack of preoptic activation with AND in lesbian women. It was activated in heterosexual women. Ultimately though, the genetic influence was found to be increased in male homosexuals in comparison to female homosexuals.
For a long time, many have been working on eliminating the idea of mental illness being associated with homosexual and transgender/transsexual orientation. The discrimination towards homosexual, transgender, and transsexuals face is due to the lack of understanding of others. Many lack the accurate information to completely grasp the ideas of sexual orientation and discriminate against those whose orientation are not similar to the rest. Strong evidence of sexual differentiation relying on the brain making its own connections in the womb, socialization not having effect on a person’s gender identity, among other abutments are supports to the claim that sexual orientation and sexual identity are factors of a person that are not deemed by choice but are issues that are biologically controlled.
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