For centuries, especially in the western civilization our society has divided genders into two categories. Male and Female. Everyone was included in one of these categories when they were born. If they didn’t behave and act as per the societal norms of the time as assigned to each gender, such people were considered crazy, misfits, aberrations and abominations. And according to this category, human sexuality was quite simple. Men should feel attraction towards women and women should feel attraction towards men.
We have known this isn’t the truth for a very long time. The murmur of dissent and opposition has grown only stronger and louder in the past century. And now we know better. The human sexuality spectrum is much broader than what some people may have you believe.
Progression of human sexuality
For centuries before, only the human sexual organs were considered the precursor to a person’s sexuality. A person born with male sexual organs was considered a man and he was supposed to feel sexual attractions towards a woman. Likewise, a person born with female sexual organs was considered a woman and she was naturally supposed to be attracted towards a man.
Things were seen in either black or white. But fortunately, more of our society has opened up at least to the idea that human sexuality exists outside the set patterns. And the monochrome black and white colors have given way to the rainbow colors as often seen on the LGBTQ flag
Nowadays, we have stopped limiting people’s attraction towards others based on their gender. And we have been able to differentiate between heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, pansexuality, etc.
Science behind sexuality
In biological terms, male is a person who has one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. And a female is someone who has two X chromosomes in their genetic make-up. It has been found that the Y chromosome is essential for the formation of a testis and the testosterone from the testis has an impact on the brain.
This testosterone plays an important role in the development of human sexuality. Testosterone acts on many other organs but to stick to our subject, we will focus on its effects on the brain. It activates a complex protein in the brain known as the androgen receptor. If a mutation in the androgen receptor occurs, then the brain may not respond to testosterone. It would be like as if the testosterone didn’t even exist. Examples in human beings include embryos with XY chromosome who are insensitive to their own testosterone. They are born looking like females, and grow up in that belief (i.e. their gender identity is female).
They are discovered to be XY individuals only at puberty because of non developmental of primary and secondary sexual characteristic as per the biological gender. Such people are said to be suffering from AIS or Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. They often have normal and properly developed testes, but it is hidden inside their abdomen.
A converse situation, i.e. excess testosterone in XX embryos isn’t that common. But a condition called Congenital Adrenal Hypertrophy (CAH) results in abnormally high amounts of testosterone in females, but this occurs much later in pregnancy. Such individuals do have a higher than expected incidence of bisexual or homosexual behavior, but nothing that can point it as its cause. Such people may also have doubts about their gender identity, but it’s not as common or as striking as AIS. The difference may be a result of timing. The effect of testosterone affecting our sexuality and sexual development becomes less as overall development proceeds. Although pre-natal testosterone is a powerful determinant of sexuality in humans it is not the only one. Science is yet to pinpoint a gene or a genetic marker responsible for influencing a person’s sexuality.
Sexuality in humans in all its forms is also greatly influenced by social and experiential factors to an extent. People don’t decide who they are attracted to, and therapy, treatments and persuasion won’t change a person’s orientation. You cannot also turn a person gay. Although sexual orientation is usually set early in life. It isn’t all uncommon for your desires and attractions to shift throughout your life. This is called fluidity.
Pansexuality is a relative modern way in which human sexuality can be conceived. It means that sexual orientation is characterized by a physical and emotional attraction to an individual and it has nothing to do with their sex or gender identity.
Pansexuality isn’t restrictive and individuals that belong to binary genders and non-binary genders can also be pansexual.
Difference between pansexuality and bisexuality
It is quite easy to mess up the differences between pansexuality and bisexuality. A bisexual person finds both men and women attractive. So in a way, bisexuals associate people to the two conventional genders of either male or female. On the other hand, pansexual individuals don’t take into account a person’s sex or gender identity. To put it in simple words, a pansexual feels a physical and emotional attraction toward a person regardless of these things.
A new world
Some bisexual and pansexual people like to identify themselves as queer. Queer is more of an umbrella term for sexual orientations outside the heterosexual norms and also has a political and activist root to it. At the end of the day, everything is just a label. But this mustn’t be confused with dismissing it as – it’s just a phase, and that the individual will come out of it. It is not a phase. Instead, be respectful towards everyone. And help those who seek it. For this big world can seem even bigger for abandoned and persecuted sexual minorities.