1 ) What is Human Sexuality?
Sexuality can be defined as the integration of the physical, emotional, intellectual and social aspects of an individual’s personality which express maleness and femaleness.” (Chipouras,1979)
2) What are the major components of Human Sexuality?
There are 5 major components of sexuality, namely- 1. Biological Sex, 2. Gender Identity, 3. Sexual Orientation, 4. Social Role and 5. Sexual Role. Each individual evolves as a unique combination of all of these factors. Some of these components are a gift of nature while some are influenced by culture, upbringing, environment, experience.
Simply put Biological sex of a baby is whether the baby born is a boy or girl. Medically biological sex can be defined in two ways-Genotype (genetic expression) and Phenotype (anatomical expression). Genotype sex is the genetic expression (chromosomal sex) of a person. Each cell in a male has sex chromosomes “XY” (except sperm cells). Each cell of a female has sex chromosomes “XX” (except ova cells). So we say that a person who has a genotype of sex chromosomes “XY” is a male and a person who has a genotype of sex chromosomes “XX” is a female.
Phenotype is the anatomical expression (physical development) of a person. If the baby has testes, penis and internal reproductive organs of a male (e.g. seminal vesicles, prostate) we say that the baby is a male. If the baby has vulva, clitoris, vagina and internal reproductive organs of a female (e.g. uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries) we say that the baby is a female.
In most of the cases a person’s genetic expression and anatomical expression are similar. i.e. a baby who cells have sex chromosomes “XY” will have a Penis, Testes (and internally seminal vesicles, prostate gland) and is considered a male. Similarly a baby whose cells have sex chromosomes “XX” will have vulva, clitoris, vagina (and internally uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries) and is considered a female.
3) Can there be other types of genetic and anatomical expressions?
Yes. In some cases there may be other types of genetic expressions e.g. ‘X’, ‘XXY’ etc. Similarly in some cases the anatomical expression may present differences in development of reproductive organs e.g. in some females there may be absence of vagina or uterus; in some males development of the penis may be incomplete.
In rare cases a baby may have parts of both male as well as female reproductive organs partially developed. e.g. a baby who has incomplete testicular development and also a partial formation of vagina. In such cases it becomes difficult to label the baby as a boy or girl. Such persons are termed as Intersex.
4) What are the problems faced by people who have variations in their reproductive anatomy?
Since these people don’t fit into the societies accepted stereotypes of male and female, most grow up with deep shame of their anatomy. They try to hide their variation/s from society. Many suffer depression and have low self esteem. They are afraid that if their variation becomes public they will be ridiculed and harassed. Many feel isolated from their families and friends, finding a life partner become difficult.
* Gender Identity :
In addition to chromosomal sex and physical development of male or female genitalia which defines the biological sex of the person, each person also has a psychological sex. i.e. whether the person considers himself/herself to be male or female. Generally a man feels like a ‘male’, he is comfortable with his ‘maleness’ and accepts his male reproductive organs as part of his persona. Similarly a female feels like a female and is comfortable with her ‘femaleness’ and accepts her reproductive organs as part of her persona. This psychological sex is considered to be the Gender Identity of the person (the feeling and experience of which gender they belong to). In most cases the gender identity corresponds to the biological sex of the person. i.e. a boy psychologically considers himself to be a boy and a girl psychologically considers herself to be a girl.
1 ) Who is a transgender (TG)?
There are a few boys who psychologically feel that they are girls. They are not comfortable with their male anatomy. They desire to become girls. This means that their biological sex is male but their gender identity is female. Similarly there are some girls who psychologically feel that they are boys. They are not comfortable with their female anatomy. They desire to become boys. Their biological sex is female but their gender identity is male. Such a person whose psychological sex is opposite of their biological sex is called a transgendered person.
2) Why does person become transgender ?
No one knows why a few boys are psychologically girls and a few girls are psychologically boys. Gender Identity cannot be taught. It cannot be learned. It cannot be changed. Some parents feel guilty, they feel that they did not bring up their children properly with the result that their son or daughter became transgendered. Parents should not feel guilty as parental upbringing has nothing to do with the development of a particular gender identity.
3) Is it possible to change the Gender Identity of a person?
No. It is not possible to change the gender identity of a person thru counseling, therapy, medications or any form of treatment. It is in everybody’s interest to accept that persons gender identity as it is.
4) What are the problems faced by transgender?
Many transgendered boys are feminine and many transgendered girls are masculine. Because of this they face a lot of discrimination from society. They are ridiculed, harassed and ostracized from society. They find it difficult to get jobs and accommodation. Many of they are disowned by their families. Most have severe depression and low self esteem. Their acceptance by family, friends and colleagues is a major part in gaining their self esteem.
5) What is SRS?
SRS is Sex Reassignment Surgery. Some transgendered persons opt to go in for SRS. A male (male to female TG) who wants to become a female can undergo sex reassignment surgery whereby his penis and testes, prostate and seminal vesicles are removed. A labia and vagina are surgically constructed. Some also undergo breast enhancement. Post surgery the person can have receptive intercourse thru the vagina, but since there is no uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries the person will not get pregnant. A female (Female to Male TG) who wants to become a male can undergo sex reassignment surgery whereby her breasts are reduced; ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, vagina are removed and testes and a penis are surgically constructed. The testes will not generate sperm. The penis can be used for urination but it cannot become erect for intercourse. A transgender person who undergoes SRS is called a transsexual.
6) Who are Hijaras?
Since society does not accept a man who considers himself a woman many transgender who are ostracized by their families join the Hijara community. Hijara community is a cultural community of transgendered men (Men who consider them to be women). Some wear female attire and ask for alms (‘mangti’). They dance at weddings and bless the couples. Some Hijaras eventually voluntarily undergo surgical removal of their testes (emasculation) and penis. Since Hijaras are alienated from main stream society they have little access to knowledge, medical services, job opportunities and knowledge of safe sex behavior.
7) What can be done to reduce the incidence of HIV amongst sexual minorities?
If a person (man or woman) has unprotected (without wearing a condom) penis-vaginal sex or penis-anal sex with his/her partner who has HIV infection then there is a chance that the person will become infected with HIV. Hence when seeking casual sex it is important that condom is used properly and consistently. It should be noted that having unprotected penis-anal sex with an HIV infected person carries the highest risk of acquiring HIV infection. Since Gays, Transgenders are marginalized by society and discriminated against, they find it very difficult to get information on safe sex knowledge. Because their sexual activities are surreptitious, seeking condoms become difficult. Because of these reasons they are more at risk of acquiring HIV infection. With a more tolerant and sensitive society they will find it easier to get access to safe sex information and condoms, which will reduce the incidence of HIV.
* Sexual Orientation :
On reaching adolescence every person feels sexual and emotional attraction towards someone. If the person feels emotional and sexual desire for members of the opposite biological sex (i.e. boys get sexually and emotionally attracted to girls and girls get sexually and emotionally attracted to boys) it is called heterosexual orientation.If the person feels emotional and sexual desire for members of the same biological sex (i.e. boys get sexually and emotionally attracted to boys and girls get sexually and emotionally attracted to girls) it is called homosexual orientation. The other words used for a homosexual is ‘Gay’. A homosexual woman is called Lesbian.
If the person feels emotional and sexual desire for members of both the biological sexes (i.e. boys get sexually and emotionally attracted to boys and girls and girls get sexually and emotionally attracted to boys and girls) it is called called bisexual orientation. Some people are bisexual by nature. This does not mean that they are confused. It is not a rule of nature that a person should only be attracted to member of one biological sex or another.
Generally in all populations across the world around 3% of men are Gay and about 1% of women are Lesbians.There is a mention of homosexuality in many ancient texts like Kama sutra, Manu Smriti, Narad Smriti, Kautilyas Arthashastra etc. There are many ancient sculptures which depict homosexual sex. So it is clear that homosexuality is not an import of the west.There are many animals, birds in which homosexual and bisexual behavior has been documented. Similarly in humans too there is a wide range of sexual diversity. While we do not know the reason why a person becomes heterosexual or homosexual or bisexual we do know that Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, Bisexuality cannot be taught. It cannot be learned. It cannot be changed. There are some psychiatrists who claim that they can change a person’s sexual orientation, but there is no scientific evidence that it works. Their claims don’t work because being a homosexual or bisexual is not an illness and hence there is no question of ‘curing’ it.