Department

Department of Zoology and Physiology

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Flannigan

Description

Sexuality and gender are often identified using exclusive definitions such as heterosexual or homosexual, male or female, XX or XY and symbols such as ♂ or ♀, which create expectations that humans should fall into one of these categories. In contrast, there is a fluid continuum of sexual orientation due to biological causation. This project researched primary literature, refereed journals, and other scholarly articles related to this topic in order to evaluate the physiological basis for this continuum. A discussion of fetal environment and different endocrinological cascades serve as a foundation to explain how certain derivations from typical fetal development can influence sex characteristics and personal perception. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, different presentations of hypogonadism, and different anatomical markers of sexual differentiation are explained. Additionally, some background information about the psychology of a mythical norm and the historical development of sexuality is integrated into this paper to give a well-rounded understanding of the societal constructs and opinions that exist today.

Comments

Oral Presentation, UW Honors Program

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A Physiological Perspective on the Continuum of Sexuality and Gender

Sexuality and gender are often identified using exclusive definitions such as heterosexual or homosexual, male or female, XX or XY and symbols such as ♂ or ♀, which create expectations that humans should fall into one of these categories. In contrast, there is a fluid continuum of sexual orientation due to biological causation. This project researched primary literature, refereed journals, and other scholarly articles related to this topic in order to evaluate the physiological basis for this continuum. A discussion of fetal environment and different endocrinological cascades serve as a foundation to explain how certain derivations from typical fetal development can influence sex characteristics and personal perception. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, different presentations of hypogonadism, and different anatomical markers of sexual differentiation are explained. Additionally, some background information about the psychology of a mythical norm and the historical development of sexuality is integrated into this paper to give a well-rounded understanding of the societal constructs and opinions that exist today.