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Many of the people in our society believe that being gay or transgender is, in fact, a choice that one makes and not a factor in the way one’s brain is wired. Making this assumption is natural as being gay or transgender is against the norms of our culture. My question then becomes to those who feel that it is a choice and not a brain wired effect then why are there differences in the brains of those who are straight and those who aren’t and the health factors that concern the community.
These health factors are both mentally and physically challenging.
Looking into the research on the functions and structural differences in homosexuals and heterosexuals, I found that there is indeed multiple difference and the way they pair with other genders is very fastitantioning. These factors consist of both the brain and genetic categories. Simon Levay was a researcher who studied the hypothalamus in the brain and found that the cell clusters are much larger in straight men than homosexual and women.
His statement was “gay men simply don’t have the brain cells to be attracted to women” (Simon LeVay, The Sexual Brain, 1993). “One of brain function differences is in an area of the hypothalamus that governs sexual arousal” (Savic et al., 2005). They took different groups of people including both genders of heterosexual and homosexual and gave them a whiff of sweat from a man who contains hormones. The results were homosexual men responded similarly to heterosexual women and became aroused by the scent as heterosexual men were only triggered by women’s scents.
Homosexual men and heterosexual women also share the similarities patterns of the amygdala which is believed to be a factor in why gay men can seem to be more emotional since this is the part of the brain is where we experience our emotions. The size of the brain hemispheres of homosexual men also resembles heterosexual women.
Looking at the genetic differences they also play a part as the sexual orientation is highest in identical twins than fraternal as identical twins have identical genes. We have also learned that it can be often transmitted from the mother’s side who have more homosexual men in their genes. Therefore with all these difference how can simply make a choice if these brain differences and genetic difference cant be altered by learning. Myers, D. G., & DeWall, C. N. (2017). Psychology in everyday life (4th ed.). New York: Worth, Macmillan Learning.
Nature vs Nurture affects the developmental process of the society vs the LGBT community. As a society, we put certain norms to follow such gender stereotypes. For example, a little boy of the age of 5 would be normal to play with a baby doll or wear pink or even paint his fingernails but after a certain age, we defined that as not normal which is when the negative towards homosexual people become very hostile. This leads to emotional and physical violence of people in this community which results in isolating them. Emotional and physical violence such as hate crimes results in eliminating comfort for trust, safety, and security. The effects include sleep difficulties, headaches, digestive problems, substance abuse, stress, and neg self-talk. Most injury and violence on homosexuals is by family members which result in criminal violence and also from intimate partners.
Although health issues are a concern for everyone they are much bigger issues in the LGBT community. A huge factor in emotional health is the rate of suicide in homosexuals is increasingly higher during the coming out process and being accepted by the family. Homosexual women deal with a higher risk of heart disease due to inactivity and obesity and smoking. Homosexual men also deal with a higher increase in heart disease due to tobacco and alcohol use. “Lesbians are at significantly higher risk for developing breast cancer than heterosexual women. Risk factors for breast cancer among lesbians include fewer full-term pregnancies, fewer mammograms and/or clinical breast exams, and being overweight”( Dibble, S.L., Roberts, S.A., & Nussey, B. 2004, p.60–68). Homosexual men have an increase in cancer of the prostate, testicular, and colon. Homosexual men are more likely to become infected with HPV which is a virus that causes gentle and anal warts. Although HIV has decreased, it is 8 times higher for black homosexual men than white homosexual and black homosexual men make up more than half of all HIV diagnoses. According to Siconolfi, D., Halkitis, P.N., & Allomong, T.W. (2009), homosexuals men tend to have more at the opposite effect and have an increase in eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia (p. 254-264)
Mental health is another huge issue as it results in depression and anxiety. This is much higher in homosexual men and women who are still in the closet. The risk of suicide are factors of physical harassment, lack of family acceptance, substance abuse, and isolation. Due to depression and lack of acceptance, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and the use of other drugs are significantly higher in homosexuals. Smoking cigarettes kill more homosexual people than HIV, hate crimes, suicide, and breast cancer combined. Smoking cigarettes are increased in the LGBT community as the cigarette companies advertised to them more, a way to connect in club settings, and a way to medicate stress and feelings of loneliness. The rate of substance abuse is 20 to 25% higher in homosexuals than heterosexuals. Using alcohol is a way of socializing hiding or concealing one’s identity and trauma from the violence of hate crimes or non-acceptance. Homosexuals also use other forms of drugs on a party basis. A few examples of the drugs are ecstasy, special K, and crystal meth and are used in raves. The effect from these drugs causes decreased judgment which results in increased risky behaviors that lead to unprotected sex which then leads to diseases being transmitted and spread. Collar, R. (2013, June 13).
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