Is sexuality predetermined?
- ‘Sexuality’ is defined as “the quality or state of being sexual; the condition of having sex” and “sexual activity.”
- A February 2022 Gallup report says LGBTQ identification in the US has ticked up to 7.1%, up from 5.6% in 2021 and 3.5% in 2012, with nearly 21% of Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2003) identifying as LGBTQ. Bisexuality was the most common sexual identity claimed among LGBTQ Americans, coming in at 57%. A 2021 Newsweek poll cites the Gen Z LGBTQ identification marker as being nearly 40%.
- An October 2021 Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that the majority of Americans (72%) believe there are only two genders with 38% believing people should be able to choose their gender.
- When considering “marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws, sodomy laws, pride parade bans” and “hate crime laws, gay and trans panic defense, [...] and queer infrastructure” between states, the Spartacus Gay Travel Index USA ranked the following states as most “friendly” to LGBTQ travelers as of 2021: Washington state, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and several others.
Sexuality is not predetermined but changes throughout life, shaped by experience and environment. A person's environment may make some feel comfortable expressing their sexual identity early on, while others may not. This feeling of safety, or lack thereof, affects the way someone chooses to identify sexually in early life and possibly into adulthood.
People grow and change continuously across many areas of life; sexuality is likewise not unalterably transfixed. The human brain isn’t even fully formed until age twenty-five—individuals could change or explore their sexuality later in life as their brain develops and they gain more life experience. People have biological children with partners of the opposite sex before growing into their gay or lesbian sexuality. And the reverse is also true of men and women who were once gay but later married opposite-sex partners and start a family. Someone could identify one way in adolescence, then come into a better understanding of their preferences in adulthood. In fact, this is the case more often than not.
As society becomes more accepting of non-traditional sexual identities and gender non-conforming behavior, more people gain the confidence to step into new sexual identities. Young people identifying as LGBTQ now aren’t bound by the first sexual choice they make, nor should they be. Likewise, research shows that children who express gender dysphoria will likely outgrow it in their teenage years.
This is not a new phenomenon. The Kinsey Scale, The Storms Sexuality Axis and The Klein Grid demonstrate the diversity of sexual orientation and prove the journey of sexual identity is not linear. As for the science behind sexuality, there are correlations, not causations. While some biological factors may contribute to determining sexual leanings, not even science can say with certainty that sexuality is genetic or fully predetermined.
The question of determinism versus free will has been debated for ages in philosophy. Whether sexuality is predetermined or a personal choice is answered with greater clarity when the meaning of predetermination is clear. Collins Dictionary defines the word 'predetermined' as something whose 'form or nature was decided by previous events or by people rather than by chance.' Evidence from both biological and psychological realms supports the predetermined nature of sexuality.
In Freud's psychoanalytic view of psychosexual development, as Psychologenie summarized it, the foundations of sexual attraction toward the opposite sex are laid in the child's personality by as early as four to six years of age (the 'Phallic Stage'). Deviation from this norm is the result of 'unresolved infantile conflict' in these early stages, as noted by JK Mills in his review article. In either case, considering the child is so young, it is not a conscious choice but instead appears to manifest naturally.
Research has linked sexuality to the relative dominance of either of the brain's two hemispheres in the biological realm. James Olson's research suggests that 'when a man is right-brain dominant or a woman is left-brain dominant, that person will be gay or lesbian.' He also notes that since the two hemispheres' neural wiring that determines a person's relative dominance is complete before birth, sexuality is essentially predetermined.
Research published in Karger International has also found that sex determination depends on innate factors like chromosome constitution and chemical compounds in the environment, not only in humans but also in animals.
Sexuality is therefore predetermined and is the product of the interplay of genetic codes, chemical, environmental, and psychological factors beyond one's conscious personal choice.