Information/articles/integral thoughts about Sexual identities and behaviour

I recognise myself as ignorant on the mentioned subject, and wish to understand more deeply the reality of LGBT people, to whom I’m sorry for all prejudice I’ve had in my life.
Could anybody share with me (and the community) some integral light in shape of clear thoughts/experience/reflection or articles adressing all quadrants of sexual identities?

I hope I’ve understood how this community works and participating properly, and most deeply hope not to offend anybody with my intendedly respectful way of expressing myself, please correct me if I do.

Hello @ManuelDN, and thank you for being so conscientious both around how you are engaging this community, and for your good-faith effort to examine your own various biases and prejudices, which all of us carry around with us to one degree or the other. Awesome example of how to take both “growing up” and “cleaning up” as seriously as we should.

As for resources, here is a very basic four-quadrant graphic I created several years back to help track the many moving parts of our total sexual being and identity, which could almost certainly use an update:

The graphic is sort of purposely simplistic – for example, I fit all of “sexual orientation” in the UL quadrant, though I believe the jury is still out when it comes to the UR neurological factors that also shape and inform our sexual orientation, as well as other “nature + nurture” discussions we could have. But since a person’s sexual orientation is felt the most strongly in the UL quadrant, in terms of attractions and desires, that is where I located it for the purposes of this graphic. But each of these factors is clearly its own 4-quadrant affair. (Heck, just consider how our LL notions of gender have changed so dramatically depending on the LR technological and social container, e.g. how women’s gender role transformed in the LL following the industrial revolution in the LR.)

One major issue we run into, I believe, is when language from one quadrant is used to explain (or explain away) factors coming from the other quadrants. Like the current cultural conversation around gender, for example – the far left tends to want to completely deconstruct gender into nothing but a LL social construct, while the far right wants to limit the discussion of gender by using the same parameters as UR biological sex, which is indeed more binary in nature (other than the many cases of inter-sex individuals).

So the far right believes that, because there are only two sexes, there can therefore only be two genders. But the far left understands that our notions of “gender” are more culturally inherited than biologically inherited (though there are clearly some biological correlates, e.g. hormone levels), though they tend to go too far by deconstructing gender altogether until there are as many different genders as there sets of genitals in the world.

Here are some other discussions that you might enjoy:

I hope that’s enough to at least get the conversation started!


Thank you very much!
The issue mentioned about confusing quadrants and reducing the way of determinating gender is clear and good to have in mind.

I will devote some time to reading the articles included (which will take me a few days since I don’t have a lot of “free” time, but meanwhile I include some of the questions that point into the places I don’t understand (and maybe don’t feel quite confortable about):

-I can understand sexual orientation, but it is difficult for me to empathise with the feeling of having a sexual identity different than the biological gender. Where could that feeling/thought come from? Is it a kind of “character” or “story” created by the mind/ego because of cultural context/life experience/near people’s influence, that could have been different and perhaps aligned with biological sex (though I no longer feel comfortable at all with the far right point of view that this is just a deviation or deformation, that it is sin or something like a corrupted way of life) or could it be something coming from a deeper place in spirit/consciousness before being affected by all these factors?

-Could it be that all this revolution around sexual identity, orientation and behaviour is a global movement taking us to understand our sexuality in a deeper way which could be both feminine and masculine? Could it be that we are all, in some hidden inner way, bisexual, able to feel atracted sexually to both male and female, and even in some way spiritually intersexual?
If we were to follow this thought, I would like to avoid “falling” in to the idea of deconstructing and flattening everything by believing that “everything is the same”, and instead try to discover all the rich nuances of sexual life and consciousness that could be experienced by allowing us to live in our physically sex-determined body, but with a more integrative and diverse perspective that could include different sexual experiences in different levels and ways.

I hope I’ve expressed my self clearly, and will try to devote some reflection time to think over the subject

Hi ManuelDN,
I hope you find my perspective helpful in answering your question(s). I’ve been interested in gender since I was very young, and I’ve taken several classes on biology and human sexuality which have informed this perspective somewhat.

Preface: Genital presentation is influenced by hormones (specifically, androgens) during gestation. We all start out with the same basic parts: phallus, gonads, etc. and depending of the concentrations of androgens in the womb (which are influenced both by the fetus’ sex chromosomes and by the stress levels of the mother), the phallus will likely develop into a penis or a clitoris and the gonads develop into ovaries or testes (which usually remain inside the pelvis until puberty). Male or female, we have anatomically equivalent parts that often work in very similar ways.

  1. Gender identity: My understanding of the biological basis of gender normative behaviors is that the naturally-occurring behaviors are influenced by sex hormones (primarily testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone have been studied, but even these (probably) have effects/interact with other behavior-modulating hormones, such as oxytocin). Most people have all three of these hormones in their body, regardless of their biological sex. Most people experience fluctuations of the concentrations of each of these hormones to varying degrees and the female fertility cycle (of which we know MUCH more about than the male fertility cycle) requires a higher level of estrogen to build in order for ovulation to occur, followed by a high surge of progesterone which stays high and grows in order to maintain a pregnancy. Hormonal birth control works by tricking the ovaries into thinking they’ve already ovulated by ingesting progesterone. As I’m sure you are aware, in general, males tend to have higher levels of testosterone, and females tend to have higher levels of estrogen (unless they are on hormonal birth control, in which they will have higher levels of progesterone). These tendencies are likely the biological basis for gender normative behaviors, but there is a high level of variance from person to person and throughout a person’s life. Additionally, we only started studying sex and gender in the last 100 years (I believe Kinsey was one of the first scientists to publish attempts at comprehensive research.) and there appears to be a lot of information we still don’t know about the biochemical mechanisms at play.

Now the social aspect of gender begins with parental expectations, often unconsciously communicated from birth, before the majority of sex hormones begin to play a more active role in the child’s body (puberty). Many children will unconsciously accept the perceptions of their caregiver and seek to conform to those expectations as a survival strategy. An example: telling everyone your favorite color is pink/blue when really you prefer the aesthetic of green.

The experience of gender dysphoria is when someone treats you in a way (based on their perception of your gender) that you find particularly uncomfortable and confusing.

Imagine how you might feel if someone told your 3 year old self that you only like to play with dolls and/or bake. (Apologies, if my assumption that you identify as male/man is incorrect, you have stated that you identify as cis-gendered and your username is indicative of maleness, if this is an incorrect assumption, please just reverse the examples.) If another person (such as a parent), refuses your request for a G.I. Joe or toy truck (insert male-gendered toy of interest) for your birthday or Christmas and instead gives you your 10th dress-up doll (insert female-gendered toy of disinterest), you might feel a tinge of gender dysphoria. It’s mostly a feeling of being misunderstood and not seen as you are or happen to be in that moment.
At the more extreme ends, it’s feeling forced to dress and behave a certain way in order to obtain acceptance and belonging from the family unit, or being punished for behaviors for which your siblings of the other gender are encouraged. It can also include being told you are not good at something (like math or sewing) by a teacher and given a lower score based on their perception of your gender, rather than the quality of the actual work. Because of the tradition of patriarchy (males are seen as more powerful/capable of autonomy, rather than simply likely to be oriented towards autonomy), FtM individuals might be abused or targeted for not having the physicality to back up their claims to autonomy, whereas MtF individuals might be abused or targeted for displaying an orientation towards community.

I personally suspect the severity of gender dysphoria a person experiences as a child is correlated with the rigidity of gender roles presented to the child and the potential severity of punishments for non-gender-conforming behaviors.

I think it’s also important to note that because of some of the extreme ways in which patriarchy is enforced, there is greater social incentive for FtM individuals to transition to a male-passing body in order to be seen as a complete autonomous person. The discomfort of being devalued (and targeted for abuse) because one presents as female can be mistaken for gender dysphoria in the case of some FtM individuals, who might otherwise identify as gender fluid, agender, or slightly female. This is often a very unpopular idea amongst transgender communities operating under mean green memes, who see this observation of power dynamics as an attempt to delegitimize the reality of being a transgendered person. In my perspective, it’s just looking at a bigger chunk of the picture. Why would anyone want to be female if toxic patriarchal memes (such as, you don’t have rights over your own body, especially concerning sex, you are community property, especially when pregnant, you produce inferior work, you are emotionally unstable, etc.) were the primary form of understanding about females? Similarly this appears to also be true for MtF individuals and toxic masculinity memes arising from toxic patriarchy (such as, real men don’t cry, you are the abuser but never the victim, you are more valuable than women and children, you are violent, you can’t control your anger, you can’t control your behaviors, you are a blood-thirsty warrior, etc.)… if those memes were all true, why would you want to identify as a man/male? From my perspective, patriarchal memes (masculinity is superior to femininity) has toxic results for both typologies and can’t really be ignored when discussing gender identities.

I, personally, spent a LOT of time and energy trying to conform to gender roles and expectations that were laid out for me by my parents, my church, and society. I was never able to figure out how to do it “correctly”. I was constantly receiving messages that I wasn’t good enough, specifically because of my gender presentation. I eventually gave up, and I’ve experienced a lot less stress and a feeling of wholeness in recognizing my own natural tendency to straddle the line between femininity and masculinity.

  1. I’m inclined to agree that the revolution is about learning to understand sexuality, gender, and relationships in general in a deeper way that connects and values both masculine and feminine traits. I would say that it’s possible for everyone to be a little pansexual (attracted to any gender presentation or biological parts, an expansion on “bisexual”). I have a tendency to think that if someone is unable to admit/see that they could be attracted to someone on a level that enables them to see past genital presentation (however rare such an attraction might be), that they are likely harboring homophobia somewhere in their shadow self. It’s possible this is a bit of demisexual superiority hidden within my own shadow, but when I’ve asked heterosexual folks who appear quite comfortable with homosexuals and the idea of homosexuality, they’ve had a tendency to reveal that they are open to the possibility of meeting someone of their same sex, so attractive or particularly matched to their romantic relationship needs that they would consider pursuing the relationship and the included sexual behaviors. Tig Notaro and Stephanie Allynne are one of the more famous examples of this phenomenon.

Pansexual is a sexual orientation which (from my understanding) remains open to the nuances and possibilities of the diversity of human gender and genital presentation and the interactions thereof. I believe it’s a fairly new term, though it’s been reportedly used in some LGBTQ+ communities since the 1990s (or before). According to GoogleTrends, it appeared on the internet (or at least more searchable) ~2007, which is approximately when I discovered it. I’m inclined to believe that its increase in acceptance and the increased number of folks who identify with it is indicative of the growth in awareness of masculine/feminine typologies and the natural interplay between them.

Thanks for sharing your perspective and questions, Manuel, I’ve greatly enjoyed considering them. I would love to hear what you make of my attempt to respond to some of your questions, if they help you grow your ability to empathize or increase your understanding of the biological basis of sex and gender, or if I missed the task completely. :slight_smile:


Hi Coda*! Thanks for your answer! It has, indeed, helped me understand better.

I found particularly interesting the preface where you explain the process of genital generations. Do you have an article or any source where it is more deeply explained?
Also, (beyond the central idea of the discussion) do you have something on the “male fertility cycle”, which I had never heard of before?

Now, when you go from that biological formation to the social aspect of gender, could you be skipping a kind of UpperLeft consideration of “consciousness” related to the emergence of a previous identity which could carry the background feelings/thoughts that show up as preferences of one or other colour or type of toy or game? Where could those feelings/preferences come from? Could they have anything to do with the hormonal processes at all, or could they come from other places?
If this is of interest, I could do more research, as I only remember the idea but not the deep content: For anthroposophy (Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy you could call it), a child’s preference speaks about his “temperament” which is related with lots of aspects of his/her personality (maybe somehow like the astrological sign, in terms of the types of personality named).
By bringing this idea, I mean to express that perhaps the preferences of colours or different choices speak of something in the inner being of the child (UL quadrant), which exists before being in contact with culture and parental expectations (LL).
And with this idea I bring up another question: if this preexisting elements of the being exist and are part of what a person “comes with to the world”, do they necessarily express a gender identity?
Or is it that gender identity is one of those preexisting elements, and so it manifests in the choice of one or other set of preferences?
Or, yet another possibility that occurs to me: Could it be that, reacting to the imposition of cultural accepted behaviours for your biological sex, as a child doesn’t seem to fit with that character, may “fall into” the other possible fixed role? Some inner (but unconscious) dialog as "Dad says I should like blue and cars, but I don’t, I prefer playing with babies instead " that then lead to the identification with the other gender.
What comes to me as a thought if these considerations have any sense and if I’m not just answering from the classical paradigm still working inside me, is that these “alternative” (just not coincident with parental expectations) could not necessarily mean a different gender identity, but maybe that identity was forged as a way of finding a place of belonging from where to reject the impositions.
I may not have been so clear in these points, but the ideas aren’t so clear in my head either, so I guess I did what I could.

Actually, even as I was writing, I supposed that the feeling of gender identification must be much deeper than just a conditioned behaviour caused by rejection to superficial preferences, but I still wanted to put it out to be analysed by others.
Anyway, if gender identity (I mean, just in case I’m not using the term correctly, the feeling that one is male or female or somewhere in between) doesn’t come from cultural imposition or reaction to it, nor from a hormonal-biological process, then where could it come from? Is there an answer to that?

I’ve also found your description of gender dysphoria and the violence inflicted to transgender people, as well as the different ways of living it, such as those who wish to change their bodies or not, and the analysis of the effects of patriarchal conceptions very interesting and contributing to my understanding of that world of possibilities.

The idea of Pansexualism seems very interesting also, do you have any other information or example of this orientation?

Thanks for your accurate writing, I will keep on reflecting and searching. :slight_smile:

*I’m glad to be talking in English with you, it avoids all the gender problems in Spanish. We are facing some big discussions on the issue, with people proposing new ways of speaking, such as replacing final "a"s or "o"s which many times (not always) indicate gender, by "e"s, such as: Amigues instead of Amigos, when refering to a group of uncertain gender population, or to someone whose gender identity is not known; while others of course defend the traditional use of the language, with the masculine plural including the possibility of women in the mentioned group. What do you think of this, do you have this type of discussion in English?
(Or in your native language, whichever it is)

Hi Manuel,

I didn’t include links in my first post because I didn’t want to insult your google-fu… these articles aren’t meant to be the sole source of information, but they might give you an idea of how to research further.

Here is a wikipedia article explaining sexual differentiation:

Male fertility cycle -
Review of male contraception methods:

I didn’t mention one of the parts in UR concerning brain differentiation because Corey DeVos mentioned it, and there is still a fair bit of debate about the degree and effects of the differences. I think that these structural differences in the brain could be partially responsible for perceptual differences in the UL quadrant. As the quadrants appear to interact with one another and not in isolation.

I agree that past lives or collective consciousness could play a role in identity formation. From my understanding identity formation is an active process of the ego, so it doesn’t really matter if the preferences come from identifying with current social-cultural suggestions, biological suggestions, past lives, or the collective consciousness… it is the process of identifying with preferences which forms identity and before we are construct-aware (turquoise level) we have less control over this process. I suspect that until a child begins puberty, they are less influenced by the hormonal processes.

I don’t believe gender identity is formed through a different process than other identities, as my understanding of identity formation is a process lead/informed by the ego (self). This leads me to believe that besides the biological structures which might lead an ego to identify with one gender over another, gender identity, like all identities, is somewhat constructed after birth and the formation of the ego beginning at the magenta level of development. From my perspective, it’s based on the ego’s interpretation of the interactions between all four quadrants.

"Could it be that, reacting to the imposition of cultural accepted behaviours for your biological sex, as a child doesn’t seem to fit with that character, may “fall into” the other possible fixed role? Some inner (but unconscious) dialog as “Dad says I should like blue and cars, but I don’t, I prefer playing with babies instead " that then lead to the identification with the other gender.”

This certainly seems like a possible path for some, but it does not include the existence of agender, genderqueer, or gender fluid persons. Additionally, the process of ego growth usually means some of what was previously subconscious becomes more and more conscious.

" I supposed that the feeling of gender identification must be much deeper than just a conditioned behaviour caused by rejection to superficial preferences"

To clarify, it was not my intention to imply that gender identity is simply a conditioned reaction to gender roles, I was attempting to answer your question about how it feels to discover that one is transgender (usually through the interaction of the I and We quadrants). :slight_smile:

“if gender identity (I mean, just in case I’m not using the term correctly, the feeling that one is male or female or somewhere in between) doesn’t come from cultural imposition or reaction to it, nor from a hormonal-biological process, then where could it come from? Is there an answer to that?”

I’m not aware of a “We” answer to the question. My answer to this question would be that identity comes from the interaction between all 4 quadrants, mediated by the ego and whatever stage it (the ego) happens to be during the moments of formative experience.

I’m not sure what you are asking about pansexuality. Could you be more specific about the type of information or examples you are looking for? might be a useful place to start?

Language and gender - I find the suggestion of using "e"s to be a simple and possibly effective solution, but mostly I find it interesting that such conversations are being held. When I first started learning French (~ 2001), there was no discussion of alternatives to gendered nouns or pronouns, simply an acceptance that is it that way. (This could have been due to the limitations of my teacher.)
The discussion that I’m aware of in English is about the inclusion of non-gendered pronouns. When I first started learning about alternative pronouns, I was quite fond of Ze/Zer/Zers (as a replacement for He/She, Him/Her, His/Hers), but from what I can tell, the more popular option of They/Theirs (for a singular person preferring an agendered pronoun) appears to be gaining dominance.

P.S. Sorry the links are only English language resources, I don’t know enough Spanish to be sure I’d be sending a useful link. :smile:

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In case this information hasn’t been covered elsewhere, it’s important to make a distinction between “Gender” and “Sexual Orientation”.

Gender is about how one relates to the male-female dichotomy. Sexual orientation is about who one chooses to have sex with. There are very heterosexual individuals the identify with the opposite gender - think rock musicians.

One of the dangers of these types of discussions is that people will get into the game of telling others “what they really are” as opposed to letting them choose for themselves and honoring their decisions. For liberals, we oppose this mostly when we see self-proclaimed homosexuals being told that they are not really gay and that with the right therapy that could be “cured” of their delusions. Ironically, these same liberals may get into the game of identifying self-proclaimed heterosexuals as actually closeted homosexuals who don’t know what’s best for themselves. There is such a thing as a gender spectrum for heterosexuals too.

I say we should be allowed to choose our attitude on gender and our sexual orientation. That’s a freedom individuals should have and society should accept the individual’s decisions.

Thanks for drawing attention to the important distinction between sexual orientation and gender identity!

I may have rushed past it in an attempt to address @ManuelDN 's specific questions about transgender experiences. I had assumed he [they] was asking about gender identity and not sexual orientation, despite his [their] use of the phrase “sexual identity”, because of the context of the sentence and the possibility that English might be a second or third language for him [them]. [Pronoun for unknown gender used as a follow-up example to the previous question about gender and the English language.]

The reason pansexuality (a sexual orientation) was brought up was as an example of a sexual orientation that addresses and recognizes that there are a variety of gender identities/expressions beyond the male-female (man-woman) dichotomy.

To address the original request of this topic…

There is so many resources about this topic from an Integral perspective I have a hard time narrowing down which to recommend.

Of course there is Ken Wilber’s Eye of Spirit and Integral Feminism which I have not yet been able to access through my local library.

I’m interested in finding Integral Voices on Sex, Gender, and Sexuality by Nicholson and Fisher at a local or online library, if I’m able. You can read the introduction here:

This one lists quite a few additional resources during the introduction (as well as, a host of resources in the bibliography), and offers a quadrant analysis that considers some of what we’ve discussed here already: (FYI, it’s a pdf download)

This discussion is a view informed by Eye of the Spirit and Integral Feminism (by Ken Wilber), but seeks to offer additional/differing analysis of the history and evolution of feminism.