*This is a repost of Graham’s 2018 year-end post. I loved it and asked him if I could share it with you. He said yes. Enjoy!
Today is the last day of 2018 so here is a list of 20 things I think everyone should know about Human Sexuality as we enter 2019.
1. Sex chromosomes are not binary. Besides XX and XY, there can also be X, which is known as Turner Syndrome and XXY, which is known as Klinefelter Syndrome (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2015, P. 129). Although there are many more, Turner syndrome and Klinefelter syndrome
are the two most well-known examples of sex chromosomes besides XX and XY.
2. The prevalence for Klinefelter syndrome is 1 in 500 and Turner Syndrome is 1 in 2500 (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2015, P. 129).
3. Intersex people do exist, they are valid, and they should be given the same rights as everyone else. Two of the most common conditions are Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) in females in which they have internal female reproductive sex organs, but their external sex organs are ambiguous or resemble a penis and Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) in males where the internal sex organs are male but the external sex organs are ambiguous or appear to resemble a vulva (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2015, P. 130-131).
4. The prevalence for intersex people is around 1 in 5000 (Intersex society of North America, 2012).
5. There are even cases where biological males can have XX chromosomes and biological females can have XY chromosomes .
6. Gender ≠ Sex. The World Health Organization (2019) states that Sex refers to characteristics that are biologically determined. Gender refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men – such as norms, roles, and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed. While most people are born either male or female, they are taught appropriate norms and behaviors – including how they should interact with others of the same or opposite sex within households, communities, and workplaces. When individuals or groups do not “fit” established gender norms they often face stigma, discriminatory practices or social exclusion – all of which adversely affect health. It is important to be sensitive to different identities that do not necessarily fit into binary male or female sex categories. Gender norms, roles, and relations influence people’s susceptibility to different health conditions and diseases and affect their enjoyment of good mental, physical health, and well-being. They also have a bearing on people’s access to and uptake of health services and on the health outcomes they experience throughout the life-course.
7. Porn isn’t inherently bad for you nor is porn or sex addictive because neither meets the criteria for addiction. When someone says they’re addicted, there’s something else going on such as shame, guilt, fear, sex negativity, etc. (see the various research studies on porn here).
8. Sexual behavior does not always match one’s sexual orientation (Copen, Chandra, & Vazquez, 2016, P. 1-14; Ybarra & Mitchell., 2016, P. 1357-1372).
9. According to the APA, you don’t need gender dysphoria to be trans. In fact, trans people aren’t mentally ill according to the APA, AMA, and WHO as many trans people do not consider their gender to be distressing. They’re happy identifying as who they are; what hurts them is lack of social acceptance, harassment, bullying, etc.
10. There’s research to suggest a biological basis for trans individuals, although it’s still early and the sample sizes were relatively small, so more research will need to go into this area. However, the results are still incredibly fascinating. In these studies, those who identify as trans have brains similar to what gender they experience, not what gender they were assigned. For example, the female-to-male subjects in the study had relatively thin subcortical areas (these areas tend to be thinner in men than in women). Male-to-female subjects tended to have thinner cortical regions in the right hemisphere, which is characteristic of a female brain (Guillamon, Junque, & Gomez, 2013, P. 1615-1648). Furthermore, a comparison of the distribution of gray matter in 55 female-to-male and 38 male-to-female transgender adolescents with cisgender controls in the same age group found broad similarities in the hypothalami and the cerebellums of the transgender subjects and cisgender participants of the same natal sex (Hoekzema et al, 2015, P. 59-71). Finally, an analysis of around 160 participants showed that biological males who identified as female had a brain structure and neurological patterns similar to biological females, and vice versa (Bakker, 2018).
11. Gender is not binary, it is on a continuum as gender varies culture to culture. Some examples of other genders include the two-spirit individuals (Indigenous North Americans), Fa’afafine (Samoa), Hijras (Asia), Il Femminiello (Naples, Bugis (Sulawesi), Kocek (Ottoman Empire), Muxes (Mexico), Kathoeys (Thailand), Warias (Indonesia), Mahus (Hawaii), Sworn Virgins (Albania) and the Elagabalus (Rome) (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2015, P. 132-136)
12. Sexual orientations outside of heterosexuality are normal and valid.
13. Relationships outside of monogamy are normal and valid.
14. Most paraphilias are harmless and are not mental illnesses (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus., 2015, P. 406). In fact, BDSM, for example, can have psychological benefits for some people (Aaron, 2016; Wismeijer & van Assen, 2013, P. 1943-1952) and can strengthen the bond between partners (Sagarin, Cutler, Cutler, Lawler-Sagarin, & Matuszewich, 2009, P. 186-200).
15. The prevalence of false reporting for women is between 2-10% so when a woman says she was sexually assaulted or worse, believe her (Lisak, Gardiner, Nicksa, & Cote, 2010, P. 1318-1334; Lonsway, Archambault, & Lisak, D, 2009, P. 1-18; Spohn & White, 2014, P. 161-192).
16. Sex doesn’t have to be orgasm focused.
17. Kids should learn about consent and bodily autonomy.
18. Sex work is real work and those who do it should be respected just like any other worker.
19. Abstinence-only education doesn’t work at all. If anything, these programs are counterproductive. Besides misleading medical information, ignoring LGBTQ+ individuals, censoring textbooks and teachers, promoting sexist and racist stereotypes and excluding potentially life-saving information about sexual risk reduction (Santelli et al., 2006; Santelli, Speizer, & Edelstein, 2013), research has also found that the U.S. states with the most abstinence-only programs actually have the highest rates of teen pregnancy (Stanger-Hall, Hall, 2011). What does work when it comes to sex education is a comprehensive approach—one that gives teenagers the information they truly need to know, which will enable them to establish safer and healthier sexual relationships. Research also reveals that comprehensive sex education is not only linked to lower rates of teen pregnancy (Kohler, Manhart, & Lafferty, 2008), but also to lower rates of STI-risk behavior (Stanger-Hall, Hall, 2011).
20. Comprehensive Sex ed is the best Sex ed.