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Can your orientation change over time?

Discussion in 'Sexual Orientation' started by Mysteria, Jul 2, 2019.

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  1. Zerak

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    Possible even if someone has the hard wiring of a gender idtentity other than sex of both those experiences fro before probably going to have an impact, and just because the the part of the brain registering gender identity swings one way or is nonbinary doesn't mean that the rest of the brain is of that gender instead of the one of birth. People say a lot of female and male brains and seem to have quite a bit of evidence for it but that doesn't meant that a 'perfect' example of each is common or even exists.
     
    #21 Zerak, Jul 20, 2019
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  2. smee

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    Asking for clarification: isn't it also harmful to try to change gender identity? I thought that examples like David Reimer, or the lives of any number of intersex people, show that there's something that is fixed. I'm avoiding any transgender examples or statistics out of my own ignorance; I also just don't know how rigorously transgender development has been studied.

    Putting aside expression, I wonder if one way of looking at it is to say that gender can develop in a unique manner, possibly with aspects that are more malleable than others. Maybe an analogy could be made to the general example of personality, where some things such as temperament are fixed before birth or in early childhood, while other aspects may change or be open to influence.

    I also apologize if this is too much of a tangent.
     
    #22 smee, Jul 20, 2019
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  3. Chip

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    The issue with transgender people is that the wiring of the brain does not match the body attached thereto. There are MRI studies that indicate that the brain structures of trans people more closely match the brain structure of the individual's self-identified gender vs. the gender matching their physical body.

    And you're correct that having bottom surgery would not turn a man into a woman; it is more precise to think of it as someone whose brain was simply born with the wrong body type attached to it, and gender confirmation surgery serves to make the physical body conform with the mind.

    Interestingly, there are several cases that illustrate this more clearly than I can. The most egregious of which is a boy who was born with male genetalia, there was some sort of severe mishap during a circumcision, and the doctor convinced the parents to amputate the boy's penis and testes, reconstruct female anatomy, and raise the boy as a girl. This didn't work; in spite of their best efforts (and never telling their child what happened), the "girl" behaved as a boy growing up, resisted dresses and feminine activities, and never 'felt right' in his body. I don't remember the details, but the boy eventually found out what had happened to him, was (understandably) livid, and immediately started dressing and acting as a boy... and pretty quickly all of the dysmorphic feelings and depression and anxiety he'd been experiencing went away.

    So it's one of a handful of similar anecdotes that basically support the idea that simply snipping parts off and telling someone what his or her gender is won't change his/her self-perception and brain wiring. And that matches everything else we know about trans people.

    Sexual orientation (i.e., who we are sexually attracted to) is also, according to everything we know, similarly hard wired. I think I covered that in the previous post.
     
  4. Chip

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    The issue with transgender people is that the wiring of the brain does not match the body attached thereto. There are MRI studies that indicate that the brain structures of trans people more closely match the brain structure of the individual's self-identified gender vs. the gender matching their physical body.

    And you're correct that having bottom surgery would not turn a man into a woman; it is more precise to think of it as someone whose brain was simply born with the wrong body type attached to it, and gender confirmation surgery serves to make the physical body conform with the mind.

    Interestingly, there are several cases that illustrate this more clearly than I can. The most egregious of which is a boy who was born with male genetalia, there was some sort of severe mishap during a circumcision, and the doctor convinced the parents to amputate the boy's penis and testes, reconstruct female anatomy, and raise the boy as a girl. This didn't work; in spite of their best efforts (and never telling their child what happened), the "girl" behaved as a boy growing up, resisted dresses and feminine activities, and never 'felt right' in his body. I don't remember the details, but the boy eventually found out what had happened to him, was (understandably) livid, and immediately started dressing and acting as a boy... and pretty quickly all of the dysmorphic feelings and depression and anxiety he'd been experiencing went away.

    So it's one of a handful of similar anecdotes that basically support the idea that simply snipping parts off and telling someone what his or her gender is won't change his/her self-perception and brain wiring. And that matches everything else we know about trans people.

    Sexual orientation (i.e., who we are sexually attracted to) is also, according to everything we know, similarly hard wired. I think I covered that in the previous post.
     
  5. Chip

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    That depends on what you mean by "change gender identity". If your gender identity (i.e, what you, in your brain, know yourself to be) matches your physical body, then your mental health is going to be a lot better than if it does not. If your physical body does not match, and you work to bring yourself into concordance with your brain's identity, then generally, your mental health is going to be better than if you are constantly in a state of non-concordance, which in most cases creates body dysmorphia.

    But intersex individuals are in a completely different category, and there, it is very individualized to each person. Some identify as intersex, some identify as one gender or the other. What matters is that however they identify is concordant for them. If that's the case, then there's no problem with dressing or otherwise acting in accord with the identified identity. But when someone goes against whatever their brain identity is, yes, that is harmful in most cases.

    This is an area that's out of my scope of competence. I do know there's a lot of investigation on this, but I don't feel versed enough to coherently comment on it.
     
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  6. Peterpangirl

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    There seems to be stacks of research on male sexuality, but where is the research on female sexuality?
     
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  7. Spatula

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    I shall present a counterargument...

    While I agree that your scenario is probably happening for a large number of people, and could be the case for the OP (or not), it has been my experience that a percentage of people's brains are just more pliant than others when it comes to attractions, for whatever reason. Clearly, most people's attractions age like a fine wine. As an example, 14 year olds are often attracted to other 14 year olds, but as they age their attractions also shift physically to match their age group, and people whose attractions don't shift tend to have a major problem. There's a big physical difference between early teens and 30 year old adults. So this is just one example that we all commonly accept as a thing that happens.

    Some people may be endowed with even more pliancy than that, and gain a taste for a gender they had previously found uninteresting with age, or lose interest in the gender that fueled their teen fantasies. I think the killer example for this would be transgender people who experience shifting attractions multiple times throughout their lives. If someone is already out as trans, the social consequences of their transition are far more serious than their sexual orientation, and they've already had to deal with a lot of internal hangups and ruminations regarding their gender identity and the long term outlook of their life, so in a sense they're like a control group for your little hypothesis.
     
    #27 Spatula, Sep 23, 2019
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  8. Chip

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    That's a false equivalency. The brain development of a 14 year old is wildly different than a 30 year old, and adolescent brains are malleable in many ways. Yet even the 14 year old brain is fixed in its sexual orientation, as far as we know. You're talking about attraction to similar age groups, which has nothing to do with attraction to a given gender. People whose age attractions don't shift nearly always have trauma; in substance use treatment, we know that the brain of the person with a substance use disorder is essentially emotionally frozen at the age s/he first starts using drugs or alcohol. And most people who are attracted to much younger people are similarly emotionally much younger than their physical age. So this is a completely different argument that has nothing to do with the stability of sexual orientation.

    Again, you're mixing apples and oranges, and with trans individuals there are a whole bunch of really complicated factors that we don't even fully understand yet. There are also a lot of issues of trauma... but also trauma of a different kind with trans people, because they face near universal resistance and non-acceptance in so many spheres that it severely influences worthiness, and this influences vulnerability, which influences ability to fully understand their own attractions. So not at all the same as when we're talking about cis individuals and stability of sexual orientation over time.
     
    #28 Chip, Sep 23, 2019
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  9. Apeiron

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    Well, I for one, had experienced a change in my attractions. I don't want to dive deep into my story, but I would like to share my opinion on this topic, although it might seem controversial to many.

    Sexual attractions can be altered by environmental factors. Although, those factors are mostly affective during early childhood and puberty. Later on in life our brain structure becomes more stable and is less prone to changes, thus these environmental factors that could alter our arousals become barely affective. Nevertheless, it is still possible to make changes. From my experience, to alter your attractions, you have to adopt a certain mindset and follow certain procedures. It would be difficult to explain what worked for me because it would take a lot of time to write it down. Also same things can't work for everyone, so they would need to be refactored to be fit for another person. Finally, after applying the certain lifestyle changes, a person can experience a noticable change in sexual attractions over a period of time.

    Besides experiencing this myself, I know other people who were also able to witness a change in their attractions. Having that said, I strongly believe that changing what attracts you is possible. But it is difficult. There is barely any information available on how to do it, so I had to do the investigations by myself with the help of other few commited people. I wish the leading psychology organisations in the world would research this more, but sadly they seem unable to do it due to political reasons. Hopefully that won't be the case in future.

    Now feel free to disagree with me. But I'm not here to argue, I just wanted to share my experience. Peace and love to you all.
     
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  10. blagh

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    I'd be very interested to hear about what you did to change your orientation.
     
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  11. Broccoli

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    There's no credible evidence that you can change your sexual orientation. This was discussed in response to Apeiron's post on the last (and only other) thread he posted in if you want to go back and read it @blagh.
     
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  12. JToivonen

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    So would I.
     
    #32 JToivonen, Sep 25, 2019
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  13. out2019

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    I personally don't have a problem with people who want to change - and I believe they can at least change, and I don't believe 'banning' 'dangerous' therapy - it's ludicrous when they are giving life-alterting drugs to kids for all sorts of reasons gender identity among them -

    At the very least one can choose to develop habits that keep them away from unwanted sexual behavior if that is what they choose to do - usually it involves a heavy spiritual connection or some 'greater than sex' reason for transmutation of sexual energy. - i don't know the 'science' of this but it seems like an area modern psychology isn't that interested in..but there are long standing traditions in religions and some traditional athletic practices..Some eastern religions even traditionally say its an imbalance that can be restored (A ying and yang)

    That said, @blagh, it sounds you're still looking for ways 'out'.. I did for a long time but you know what, I realized, deep down, I wanted to be gay. I still have issues, but when I remove all the baggage I want it and love it!

    That's my choice. I know most here will disagree about this but I believe if someone really, sincerely doesn't want to be I think they can alter their life and as long as they have other things that are 'higher callings' it could be their community, it could be self image, it could be their religion.

    BTW you won't find the information you're looking for on this site, and if it was posted or discussed it would probably be deleted - I am ok with that too, it's not the place for that (But that should be clear to people).
     
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  14. JToivonen

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    Sorry, but I strongly disagree with you. Seriously, I couldn't disagree more.

    I sincerely didn't want to be gay. Not in a million years!!! It made me want to puke, really, it was disgusting! It was sinful. I had a higher calling. I wanted to please God and I knew he'd honour my true wish to be a loving husband and father.

    And I'm very masculine. Cutting the crap, but I'm good looking. In my teenage years girls would fight over me. Now that I'm married girls, women, MILFs, they check me out. I run, I go to the gym. Besides, how could I be gay if all my hobbies are very masculine? I love cars, getting my hands dirty with oil...I love sports, would practice, watch and talk about 24/7 if I could. So I also have my self image telling me "no way you're gay!"

    I tried SO, SO F*CKING HARD not to be one...hey, if sexuality were an option, well, I chose to be straight! I dated hot girls, I got married. I'm a practicing Christian. So I have all the tools to alter my sexuality.

    But, you know what? It never happened. And never will.

    Because now I know I was born this way. No more bs. No more fooling myself. I'm a gay man. And now I'm proud of it.

    So, please, don't fall into that false idea that "someone can alter his/her sexual orientation if he/she really/sincerely wishes". That's a hurtful lie. I tried that. It only caused pain and turmoil.
     
    #34 JToivonen, Sep 25, 2019
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  15. JToivonen

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    Sorry for sounding too harsh, @out2019 , but, please, don't buy that idea. The dangerous notion that someone can be "ungayed". Even if you change your behaviour, it'll never be possible to change who you really are.

    Last night I watched Boy Erased, so it made me realise how close I got to going down on that same crazy path. No one should try that, seriously.
     
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  16. out2019

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    I wrote:
    , it sounds you're still looking for ways 'out'.. I did for a long time but you know what, I realized, deep down, I wanted to be gay. I still have issues, but when I remove all the baggage I want it and love it!

    That's my choice


    I simply want people to have choice - and trying to hide or shout down or downright make illegal alternatives raises eyebrows with me.
    Do you sincerely thing that someone who went to a therapist to change their sexual behaviors (let's skip 'orientation' for a moment) is doing something more dangerous than giving pre-adolescent kids life-and permanently mind altering drugs?

    I get it.. but there have been people who have been successful. What really disturbs me is when people discredit them - again - [yes i know the founder of exoducs blah blah blah, but there have been many sincere perment changes...it's not for me but I don't believe that 'the science is settled' - I also believe that 'gay' behavior covers wide range of behaviors and root causes - which is why they will never get to a 'root' 'cause' because there is no central cause.

    Pardon if this is a little blunt but are you a believing one? Because a believing one would believe that God could change anyone. I am not saying you can magically 'pray away gay' but there people who have had profound religious experiences who say their orientation changed. Do you believe them? (I am a skeptic but I will take their word for it, as I also believe that for example LSD can (not always and in fact rarely) permanently change people.

    Again, I believe that sincere people can change, but I am at the point where even if there were a pill or a cure, I wouldn't take it, I want to get rid of my denial baggage - but that doesn't mean I want to force everyone else to not have a choice.
     
  17. Chip

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    It isn't an issue of shouting down. And if alternatives worked, even if they were risky, that would be one thing.

    But "illegal alternatives" (or legal alternatives) don't work. Full stop. Period. Paragraph.

    The APA, some years ago, commissioned a major metastudy that looked at every credible study that had been done over the past 60 years, and even looked at some discredited ones, all focused on the idea of changing sexual orientation. The results were pretty unequivocal: It is not possible to change sexual orientation. Reparative therapy does not work. Furthermore, most of the therapies are extremely psychologically damaging, and some have the potential to cause severe physical harm.

    This isn't an issue of "Oh, let's take away choice because it doesn't fit the narrative." Treatments that attempt to change sexual orientation are quackery, and they are as unscientific, ineffective, and dangerous as quack therapies such as bathing in gasoline to treat arthritis (it was an actual promoted therapy at one point), icepick lobotomies (actually used for a number of years), the old-school "break down the psyche" approaches to defiant teenagers (caused severe damage and numerous suicides.)

    Reparative therapy has been responsible for many suicides, countless severe depressions, and an awful lot of really screwed up people that it took years to fix.

    It depends on what drugs we are talking about.

    If you're talking about the drugs used in treating trans individuals, there is controversy with that, and that's one of the reason that the most common treatment for pre-adolescents is puberty blockers, which are pretty minimal in their side effects.

    If you're talking about antipsychotics, antidepressants, and ADHD medications, when judiciously and appropriately used, these can be literal life savers for severely damaged kids.


    This is highly debatable. Of the ones where it is claimed to have been successful, the overwhelming majority, when contacted 5 or 10 years later have gone back to their hardwired homosexual orientation. Of the few that have not, in most cases there are mitigating circumstances involving childhood traumas that likely impacted the emotional relationships these people had with same-sex caregivers. When those emotional traumas are resolved, the fear that covered the original, underlying heterosexuality clears out, and the people revert to their hardwired orientation. In other words, there's strong evidence the "cured" individuals were never gay in the first place.

    That's simply bullshit.

    No. It isn't possible. Talk to the hundreds of thousands or millions of devout Christians who tried for years to "pray the gay away", who were disowned by their families and their congregations. If this worked for anyone, it would certainly have worked for these folks. Many killed themselves because they thought they were unworthy of God's love because God would not "make them straight" as they were fraudulently told by their parents, pastors, and the like.

    This is an issue that our parent nonprofit is absolutely unbudging, unapologetic, and absolutely resolute about. We base all of the information we disseminate on factual, evidence-, research-, and clinical consensus-based information.

    This issue isn't even remotely controversial any more. It was 10+ years ago, but so much has come out that nobody credible, except the religious crazies, even tries to make this argument any longer because there's no evidence to support it. The understanding is agreed by every major mental and physical health organization in the US, and the overwhelming majority of them worldwide. It is not possible to change sexual orientation.
     
    #37 Chip, Sep 25, 2019
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  18. out2019

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    I find myself in the weird position of working on my own coming out, explicitly saying alternate routes aren't for me but I defend the rights of those who want to pursue them...


    So you admit some are permanently damaging yet legal, but you're more concerned with any (not just what you call 'reparative' therapy) attempt by adults to contact another adult to attempt to get rid of some aspect of their life they don't want, or on the positive side, to become someone they want to be. do you object to people even researching the possibility?

    so have sex change operation, if you apply the same standard. so has AA... or maybe none of them had and they had pre existing emotional problems and just didn't find the right support. it's not that they wrong support drove them to suicide. Have you considered that?
    That's shouting down. And then trying to back it up with the muscle of political influence. You're wiling to give room on drugs that can literally permanently brain damage kids, but not this.

    Ok. But this implies they can think they are gay , try to come out, etc, but they need therapy to get their 'hetro normative' state...
    and I assume some observer bios- any undeniable case you'll peg as this..

    and this is simply an ad hominem. If I did that do you, how would feel?

    I assume you're an atheist? I was asking the OP as a Christian if believed their testimonies.. I said I was skeptical but I was wiling to believe their testimonies.. what if I told you I didn't believe your personal testimonial that you are gay? would you be offended and insulted? Yet you as an atheist declare that their personal testimonies are not possible? or you know better?

    I understand skepticism - if someone saw something or claimed something like seeing aliens - but there are many cases of personal testimonies of this kind and people changed (not just orientation but many behaviors and even remissions of diseases) - these are internal conscious transformations...


    This kind of language strikes me as self contradictory . if your core parent nonprofit says its not possible than what evidence could convince them?. and you really believe this despite new discoveries and studies every day (like the latest gay twins one?) )

    . I wish, my dear Kepler, that we could have a good laugh together at the extraordinary stupidity of the mob. What do you think of the foremost philosophers of this University? In spite of my oft-repeated efforts and invitations, they have refused, with the obstinacy of a glutted adder, to look at the planets or the Moon or my glass
     
    #38 out2019, Sep 25, 2019
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  19. Chip

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    Attractions, yes. Hardwired sexual orientation, no. Zero evidence to support the idea that orientation can be changed.
    Read what I wrote above about attractions; in the rare cases where this happens, it's a byproduct of trauma that creates a fear of the normal heterosexual attraction. Solve the trauma and resulting fear, and the underlying orientation returns. This person was never gay, just traumatized. Big difference. But the religious crazies are unable to see the clear difference between the two.

    I don't know where this load of shit is coming from, but it is not based on any credible neuroscience associated with research on sexual orientation.


    If this actually worked, then the reparative therapy quacks would have a decent success rate with the dozens of different quack therapies they have tried. This has not been shown the case.

    If one tries hard enough, one can sometimes suppress and deny one's sexual urges for a period of timoe. This isn't remotely the same as changing one's sexual orientation. It also doesn't work very well. The typical person suppresses most emotions along with sexual attraction. Anxiety and depression are common outcomes of this. There is voluminous research on this topic, and plenty of anecdotal data from people here on EC who convinced themselves they had "turned themselves straight", gotten married, and... 5 or 10 or 20 years later figured out they were lying to themselves the whole time.

    Because it isn't possible.
    They have. For over 60 years. In hundreds of studies, as I mentioned above. It isn't possible. It doesn't work.
     
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  20. Chip

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    Of course. All drugs have side effects, and there are some drugs that must be cautiously considered, and pros and cons weighed, before administering them to children. It's a balance between quality of life and risks to health, as it is in the administration of nearly every drug.

    This goes back to our overall philosophy, as a society, on what we do and do not permit. I am not aware of any states that have banned conversion therapy for adults (though I believe they should.) The argument against banning it is exactly as you have stated; people have the free will to be idiots if they want to. However, the harm that comes from these therapies, and the utter lack of effectiveness gives us plenty of precedent to ban those procedures, as we have done for plenty of other "harmless" treatments found to be worthless.

    I have not seen any data that suggests that gender confirmation surgery is responsible for suicide. I have seen data that many trans individuals, with or without gender confirmation surgery, commit suicide. The incidence of depression among trans individuals is astronomically high. That's a societal problem more than anything else. The mental health community is doing its best to address the issue as effectively as possible, and the approaches currently used are the ones that have been found to be most effective.

    Contrast this to reparative therapies of all types, which have been conclusively proven with hundreds of studies, and validated by every major mental health, physical health, and nearly every heallth organization worldwide, to be ineffective, and it isn't apples-and-apples.

    Basically same argument as with trans individuals. Though I'm not a huge fan of AA because there's little credible data that it's effective above about a 5% success rate.

    No, it's calling bullshit on the claim "there have been many [instances of]sincere permanent change. The APA metastudy showed that this was simply not the case.

    Again, going back to the studies that have looked at this, that's pretty much what they find; you can look at the individuals that claim they've changed and genuinely seem to have done so, and nearly always you find trauma that, when resolved, fixed the issue.


    As I said, we're evidence-based. When the evidence, or wide consensus among professionals working in the field changes, our perspective, and the evidence we speak of when presenting information, changes with it. We're pretty on top of the research; several of our staff and board are academics, two are clinical social workers who work in the field, and all of us do our best to stay on top of current thinking.
     
    #40 Chip, Sep 25, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
    Contented and blagh like this.
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