Understanding Gender Fluidity

Our understanding of “reality” is formed by consensus models, agreements, and traditions, but many such models contain internal contradictions or irreconcilable, opposing variables. Such a model is also seen in human sexuality, as it is still common for people to understand sexual identity (a component of identity that reflects different aspects of sexuality and sexual orientation) in terms of sexual attraction that a person feels towards others (as divided into two categories: heterosexuality and homosexuality).

The understanding of sexual orientation has changed. There has been so much scholarly research, interviews, and medical/psychological studies, together with changing times, that we now understand that sexual orientation is a fluid trait that can vary throughout adulthood. The range is based on pluralistic and flexible thinking and is influenced by culture, environment, personality, and relationships.

Sexual orientation is no longer seen as a tendency to be exclusively homosexual or heterosexual but rather as a sequence of fluid movements between them. In this group, the total sexual attraction to men and women (or pan-sexuality) is characterized by aesthetic appeal, romantic love, or sexual desire towards people, without association to their gender identity or biological species.

Sexual attraction and sexual orientation are becoming more flexible than in the past, both in their definition and the perception of the LGBTQIA+ community. During adolescence, there is the often-turbulent period of changing self-perception, and a process of gender and sexual identity formation takes place.

In parallel, these young people also deal with the physiological changes of adolescence. For LGBTQIA+ youths, accepting these changes alongside coping with gender roles dictated by society and the culture in which they find themselves is a complex, ongoing and delicate process. When a youth experiences shame and concealment of their desires and needs or feels a mismatch between the biological sex and their gender experience, forming a personal identity becomes complex.

For example, a girl who feels from a young age that she is a boy, dresses as a boy, and acts like a boy, experiences a gap between the gender identity she wants to adopt and her biological identity. In such cases, there is a chance they may develop anger and/or self-hatred that impair their functioning and well-being in the various areas of life.

When individuals are exposed to external stigma, it can lead to the emergence and maintenance of issues such as internalized homophobia (i.e., negatively conceived self-perception). The psychological well-being of LGBTQIA+ people is affected by various other factors, such as identity, personality, and community. On the other hand, the optimal success of this process will positively impact their mental state and the self-perception of the youth in the present and later life.

* As always, I like to acknowledge the work, research and writing of the thousands of people who have made a life commitment to these issues and to help foster a more understanding society.