Biological and Psychological Lens to View LGBT Identities

Manvi Arora, University of Delhi, India

In attempt to understand LGBT studies, it’s important to view it from an interdisciplinary lens. Studies focusing on LGBT people have not been subject of any single discipline with single object of study. The objects to large extend has been lives of LGBT people themselves. Hence, it is important not to isolate their experiences from social and scientific context. This implies that LGBT studies can only be practiced in amalgamation with different disciplines, in particular sociology, anthropology, biology, psychology, literature, law and history. At present in India and in many other cultures, all orientations and behaviours other than heterosexuality have been seen as “unnatural”, “abnormal” or “sinful”. In such a situation it is even more critical to understand Biological and Psychological perspective and theories behind variant sexual orientations, put forward in this paper.
The biological perspective typically has explained human sexuality through reference to research concerning both human biology and sexual behaviour in other species. Biology indicates what is possible, often, what is pleasurable or painful. But biology does not imply what is proper and improper. Religion, traditions, culture and philosophy guides these judgments.
Biologists have asserted that we might arrive at a “natural” course of sexual behaviour by observing sexual activities among animals. Since animals are incapable of thinking like humans, they are thus unlikely to be influenced by confounding layers of tradition and belief.
For instance “All male mammals masturbate” (Beach, 1951) and animals also display homosexual behaviours. Female rodents and carnivores are most likely to mount other females when they are in estrus, the time of the month when they can conceive. Females in estrus usually show female mating behaviour in the presence of a male animal. Beach believes that role reversibility “reveals a potential for bisexual behaviour” in these mammals (1976). Chevalier-Skolnikoff agrees with Beach that primates appear capable of displaying both “male” and “female” sexual behaviour pattern. The sexual behaviour of lower animals is highly varied (Chevalier-Skolnikqf, 1976). If we were to accept their behaviours as standard for ourselves, we would probably widely expand rather than limit the range of human sexual activities to penile-vaginal intercourse leading to reproduction.
Theorizing Origins of Sexual Diversion
There are numerous biological theories that try to explain the origin of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgendered roles in humans.
a) The Genetics of Homosexuality
Over the past hundred and fifty years, volumes have been written in the professional disciplines and literature to explain the roots of one’s sexual orientation, particularly if it is homosexual or bisexual. Heterosexuality is assumed to be “normal” and therefore needs no causal explanation. Examination of sexual behaviour and orientation from cross culture, evolutionary and interspecies perspectives bring forth a wide variety of sexual expressions, hence substantiating the non-universal and not natural reasons behind it. Still a lot of work is being done by biologists to discover the root cause of variant sexual orientation.
“Kallmann’s (1952) studies with monozygotic (identical) and dizygotic (fraternal) twins were once taken as powerful evidence for genetic influence on sexual orientation. Among 40 pairs of identical twins, Kallmann found 100 per cent concordance rate for homosexuality. Among fraternal twins, only 57.7 per cent of the probands of homosexuals were exclusively heterosexuals. In Kallmann’s report, siblings with an identical genetic code in variably shared the homosexual orientation.”…Access Full Text of the Article

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