Connect with us

NEWSMAKERS

Should scientists change the way they view (and study) same sex behavior in animals?

Researchers suggest that same-sex behaviors may actually have been part of the original, ancestral condition in animals and have persisted because they have few – if any – costs and perhaps some important benefits.

Published

on

Photo by Gwen Weustink from Unsplash.com

Over the years, scientists have recorded same-sex sexual behavior in more than 1,500 animal species, from snow geese to common toads. And for just as long evolutionary biologists studying these behaviors have grappled with what has come to be known as a “Darwinian paradox”: How can these behaviors be so persistent when they offer no opportunity to produce offspring?

In a new article, researchers from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies make the case that it’s time to reframe the question from “why do animals engage in same sex behavior (SSB)” to “why not?”.

Writing in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, the authors suggest that these behaviors may actually have been part of the original, ancestral condition in animals and have persisted because they have few — if any — costs and perhaps some important benefits.

“We propose a shift in our thinking on the sexual behaviors of animals,” says Julia Monk, lead author and F&ES doctoral candidate. “We’re excited to see how relaxing traditional constraints on evolutionary theory of these behaviors will allow for a more complete understanding of the complexity of animal sexual behaviors.”

Typically, research into these behaviors has rested on two assumptions, the authors state. The first is that same-sex behavior has high costs because individuals spend time and energy on activities that have no potential for reproductive success. The other is that same-sex behaviors emerged independently in different animal lineages.

They argue that a combination of same-sex and different-sex sexual behaviors (DSBs) is an original condition for all sexually producing animals — and that these tendencies likely evolved in the earliest forms of sexual behavior.

READ:  Four reasons not to vote for Donald Trump

They also dispute the assumption that because different-sex behaviors are essential for sexual reproduction selection — or the tendency of beneficial traits that promote increases in population, size, or resilience — will eliminate sexual behaviors that do not immediately result in reproduction. On the contrary, they suggest that SSB is not always — and maybe even seldom — very costly. This would suggest that this behavior is actually what evolutionary biologists call “neutral,” meaning that it has neither negative nor positive effects and therefore persists because there’s no reason for natural selection to weed it out.

Moreover, the authors suggest that not only are same-sex behaviors often “not costly,” but can be advantageous from a natural selection perspective because individuals are more likely to mate with more partners. Many species aren’t inherently monogamous but instead try to mate with more than one individual. In many species it can be difficult for individuals to even discern between different sexes.

“So, if you’re too picky in targeting what you think is the opposite sex, you just mate with fewer individuals. On the other hand, if you’re less picky and engage in both SSB and DSB, you can mate with more individuals in general, including individuals of a different sex,” says co-author Max Lambert, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California-Berkeley’s Departmental of Environmental Science.

For example, scientists have found that male burying beetles engage in increased same-sex behavior when they perceive a higher cost of missed mating opportunities with females. This suggests that engaging with different-sex behaviors exclusively is actually disadvantageous because it reduces chances to display mating potential when mating opportunities are rare.

READ:  Senatorial candidate Edu Manzano expresses support for LGBTs

Such examples only hint at what scientists don’t know about same-sex behaviors in animals, Lambert said. There are thousands of examples of SSB in animals, he said, yet most of these observations occurred by chance and scientists rarely if ever actively study how often these behaviors occur compared with different-sex sexual behaviors.

“So far, most biologists have considered SSB as extremely costly and, consequently, something that is aberrant,” he says. “This strong assumption has stopped us as a community from actively studying how often and under what conditions SSB is happening. Given our casual observations suggests that SSB seems to happen pretty commonly across thousands of species, imagine what we would have learned if we had assumed this was something interesting and not just a rampant accident.”

Other co-authors include Erin Giglio from the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin; Ambika Kamath from the University of California Berkeley; and Caitlin McDonough from the Center for Reproductive Evolution at Syracuse University.

For the paper, the researchers explained that they use the terms “same-sex behaviors” and “different-sex behaviors” rather than terms such as homosexuality or heterosexuality to avoid conflation with terms for human sexual identities.

Nonetheless, Monk notes that scientific questioning into the persistence of same-sex sexual behaviors has long been observed through the lens of a human society that has historically judged some behaviors to be “normal” or “abnormal.” This tendency, she says, has hindered our understanding of animal behavior in that it has promoted research that only confirms pre-existing assumptions or even averts important steps in the scientific process.

READ:  Bikini open for transmen slated on May 2

“Once you really dig into the research on the behavior of animals you can’t help but be impressed by the diversity of life and how animals are out there defying our expectations all the time,” she says. “And this should lead us to question those expectations.”

NEWSMAKERS

Intersex community holds first summit in Phl

In an effort to gather members of the intersex community in the Philippines, thereby discussing issues that are very specific to them and then bringing the same to the fore, Intersex Philippines (IP) organized its very first summit in the country.

Published

on

All photos courtesy of Jeff Cagandahan/Intersex Philippines

Making the “I” visible.

In an effort to gather members of the intersex community in the Philippines, thereby discussing issues that are very specific to them and then bringing the same to the fore, Intersex Philippines (IP) organized its very first summit in the country.

According to Jeff Balahadia Cagandahan, who helms IP, exactly because intersex people remain largely invisible, there’s a need to gather “so that they will not feel alone.”

IP – of course – started as an online support group, and this is the first actual physical gathering; and for Cagandahan, “it (has) a different impact when you meet in person.”

For the gathering, IP started at the basics – e.g. while there were lessons on Intersex 101 “because some of them don’t know anything about intersex, basta ang alam lng nila e kakaiba sila (they just knew they’re ‘different’)”; there were also lessons on self-acceptance because “we want them to accept themselves (as intersex people) first because mahirap manghingi ng pagtanggap sa iba kung sarili mismo namin e hirap kaming tanggapin (we can’t make others accept us if we, ourselves, have issues with accepting ourselves).”

As FYI: intersex is NOT identity; it is a medical condition/biological variation. As stated by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: ” Being intersex relates to biological sex characteristics, and is distinct from a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. An intersex person may be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or asexual, and may identify as female, male, both or neither.”

READ:  Bikini open for transmen slated on May 2

Added the (now-defunct) Intersex Society of North America, “intersex is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male.

To stress, from UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: “Intersex people are born with sex characteristics (including genitals, gonads and chromosome patterns) that do not fit typical binary notions of male or female bodies. Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of natural bodily variations. In some cases, intersex traits are visible at birth while in others, they are not apparent until puberty. Some chromosomal intersex variations may not be physically apparent at all.”

According to experts, between 0.05% and 1.7% of the population is born with intersex traits – the upper estimate is similar to the number of red haired people (similarly stated by the Intersex Campaign for Equality).

Incidentally, Cagandahan – who is now part of Intersex Asia, an Asia-wide support group/network/organization for intersex people – was granted by the Supreme Court (SC) to change his gender marker because of his medical condition.

On December 11, 2003, Cagandahan filed a Petition for Correction of Entries in Birth Certificate before the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 33 of Siniloan, Laguna. Specifically, Cagandahan asked to change his name and his sex (from female to male). Cagandahan claimed that he developed male characteristics while growing up because of a condition called Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH).

READ:  Teaching Deaf Mindanawons about community-based HIV screening

The case reached SC, which sided with Cagandahan.

In its 2008 decision, the highest court stated:

“Ultimately, we are of the view that where the person is biologically or naturally intersex the determining factor in his gender classification would be what the individual, like respondent, having reached the age of majority, with good reason thinks of his/her sex. Respondent here thinks of himself as a male and considering that his body produces high levels of male hormones (androgen) there is preponderant biological support for considering him as being male. Sexual development in cases of intersex persons makes the gender classification at birth inconclusive. It is at maturity that the gender of such persons, like respondent, is fixed…

…Respondent is the one who has to live with his intersex anatomy.To him belongs the human right to the pursuit of happiness and of health. Thus, to him should belong the primordial choice of what courses of action to take along the path of his sexual development and maturation. In the absence of evidence that respondent is an incompetent and in the absence of evidence to show that classifying respondent as a male will harm other members of society who are equally entitled to protection under the law, the Court affirms as valid and justified the respondents position and his personal judgment of being a male.”

This decision was written by Associate Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing; with Conchita Carpio Morales, Dante O. Tinga, Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. and Arturo D. Brion concurring.

Now, Cagandahan wants intersex people – Filipinos, in particular – to know that “God did not make mistakes in creating us. We are God’s masterpiece. Wala kang dapat ikahiya sa pagiging intersex (You have nothing to be ashamed of for being intersex).”

READ:  Dulaang UP to stage Rody Vera’s adaptation of Wolfgang von Goethe's 'FAUST', to run starting Feb. 15

Cagandahan eventually co-formed IP to support those like him; and he keeps stressing that “hindi tayo rare; marami tayo. Ito na rin siguro ung panahon para magsalita tayo (We are not rare; there are many of us. It is time for us to speak out).” For him, “naniniwala ako na kapag mas maraming nagsasalita, mas magiging madali ang hinihingi nating pagbabago (If more people like us speak, it will be easier to get the changes we want to happen).”

For intersex people, or those who want to know more about intersex condition/s and Intersex Philippines, visit Jeff Balahadia Cagandahan’s FB account; email jeffcagandahan@yahoo.com, or contact 09155159819.

Continue Reading

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Homophobia and transphobia still a problem in sport

One third of those active in sport conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity within the context of their sporting activities. More than a third of those questioned were unable to name a single organization or individual they could contact in the event of a negative experience or incidence.

Published

on

Photo from Pexels.com

The overwhelming majority of people perceive homophobia and transphobia to be a problem in sport; with homophobic and transphobic language remaining widespread, especially in team sports. 

This is according to analysis coming out of Europe, where a Europe-wide project was done to develop strategies and training measures in the field of sport in order to counter discrimination and violence related to sexual orientation or gender identity. In the first study, an online survey was used in which more than 5,500 LGBTI from all 28 EU states were asked about their experiences in sport. In the second study, representatives of 15 sports associations, sports federations and umbrella organizations from the five project countries were interviewed about their strategies for combating homo-/transphobic discrimination in sport.

As stated, the overwhelming majority of respondents notes homophobia and transphobia to be a problem in sport. Homophobic and transphobic language was also noted to be widespread, especially in team sports. As a result, one third of those active in sport conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity within the context of their sporting activities. More than a third of those questioned were unable to name a single organization or individual they could contact in the event of a negative experience or incidence.

“Discrimination against LGBTI is a problem facing society as a whole,” says Professor Ilse Hartmann-Tews, Director of Studies at the German Sports University, “which is why each one of us should feel responsible for creating a culture of respect.”

READ:  Study finds almost half of all LGBT pupils still face bullying at school for being LGBT

In the area of organized sport, the study recommends an open and proactive attitude towards questions of sexual and gender diversity on the part of all men and women active at every level of clubs, associations and sports federations. This is because, the ideal is for participation in sport at all levels to be made easier for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and intersexual people.

Homophobic and transphobic language was also noted to be widespread, especially in team sports.
PHOTO FROM PEXELS.COM

The collaboration of five European project countries lasted three years and will end on 31 December. Results were presented and discussed at various levels, including the final conference of OUTSPORT held in Budapest, an international conference on the situation of LGBTI in sport in Barcelona, the sports committee of the NRW state parliament in Düsseldorf and the Federal Network Conference of Queer Sports Clubs (BuNT) in Hamburg.

Continue Reading

NEWSMAKERS

Women reporting greater identity uncertainty are more at risk for hazardous drinking

Mostly lesbian and bisexual women reported the most depression, anxiety, and physical health symptoms; mostly lesbian women reported the highest levels of hazardous drinking. Among those who reported drinking, mostly lesbian women drank the most frequently and reported the most alcohol-related consequences. Mostly lesbian women reported the most identity uncertainty.

Published

on

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels.com

Fact: In research, “mostly lesbian” women are typically grouped with “exclusively lesbian” women, although they are sometimes grouped with “bisexual women”. A study is now saying that this grouping is problematic since it doesn’t fully show the experience of mostly lesbian women – e.g. that they are at higher risk for hazardous drinking.

In “Health Disparities Among Exclusively Lesbian, Mostly Lesbian, and Bisexual Young Women“, written by Robin J. LewisSarah J. EhlkeAlexander T. ShappieAbby L. Braitman and Kristin E. Heron and published in LGBT Health, it was noted that health disparities have been identified between groups of diverse young sexual minority women (SMW) and heterosexual women. “This approach may generate sufficient group sizes for statistical analyses but obscures important differences. Moreover, some young women may not identify as ‘lesbian’ or ‘bisexual’ but somewhere in between.”

And so, to best understand varying experiences, researchers saw it best to examine health and sexual minority identity-specific outcomes among three groups of SMW — i.e. women who identify as “exclusively lesbian,” “mostly lesbian,” and “bisexual.”

For this study, participants were 990 young (18–30 years old) SMW (exclusively lesbian: n = 305, mostly lesbian: n = 133, bisexual: n = 552) who completed an online survey, including information about mental and physical health symptoms, hazardous drinking, and identity uncertainty. Those who reported alcohol use in the past 30 days responded to questions about their alcohol use and alcohol-related negative consequences.

READ:  ‘God loves LGBTQIA people; so do we.’

The study found that, controlling for demographic differences, “health outcomes varied significantly by identity. Mostly lesbian and bisexual women reported the most depression, anxiety, and physical health symptoms; mostly lesbian women reported the highest levels of hazardous drinking. Among those who reported drinking, mostly lesbian women drank the most frequently and reported the most alcohol-related consequences. Mostly lesbian women reported the most identity uncertainty.”

The researchers stressed that “describing and classifying SMW is a complex endeavor, and collapsing across identities may mask important differences among these subgroups.”

Although the common conceptualization of sexual identity includes mostly lesbian women under the bi+ umbrella, there may be important factors that lead women to adopt this sexual identity that sets them apart from their bisexual peers. This research “suggests that women who identify as mostly lesbian may be unique from their exclusively lesbian and bisexual peers by reporting greater identity uncertainty and more hazardous drinking. Moreover, if trying to subsume them within lesbian or bisexual identities, they fall into different patterns for different outcomes.”

The researchers are recommending further research to be done to improve understanding of the development of nonmonosexual identities, and researchers should be mindful that operationalization of sexual identity may affect outcomes.

Continue Reading

NEWSMAKERS

Income inequality fuels status anxiety and sexualization, research shows

As economic inequality continues to grow, researchers say so too will women’s preoccupation with their physical appearance, and the mental health issues that tie in with this.

Published

on

Photo by Isabella Mariana from Pexels.com

Women’s appearance enhancement is driven partly by status anxiety and income inequality, according to new research.

Researchers at the universities of Melbourne and New South Wales have examined the relationship between income inequality, status anxiety and sexualisation of women.

Using a role-playing experiment, more than 300 people from 38 countries participated in a hypothetical society online where each version matched one of the many economies of the world today.

Participants were asked to indicate how anxious they were about social status in their respective society and then chose an outfit to wear for their first night out. Options ranged from least to most revealing.

Researchers found that women assigned to economically unequal societies chose more revealing, sexy outfits for their first night, and they did so because they were anxious about their social status.

By making women worry about social climbing, research shows that economically unequal societies incentivized women to use their attractiveness to get ahead.

University of Melbourne gender relations expert Khandis Blake said results show that for some women, being the fairest of them all can be a smart strategy to climb the social and economic hierarchy.

“Although we might like to pretend in today’s environment that beauty doesn’t matter anymore, research and our day-to-day experiences say otherwise,” Blake said. “Our results favor a view of women as strategic agents, using the tools available to them to climb the social hierarchy in specific socio-economic environments. When we see women in these outfits, pouting into their phone cameras or preening over their appearance, we might think it’s just narcissism. But things are more complex. It’s really about women responding to incentives in their environment, given the state of their economy.”

READ:  Dulaang UP to stage Rody Vera’s adaptation of Wolfgang von Goethe's 'FAUST', to run starting Feb. 15

As economic inequality continues to grow, researchers say so too will women’s preoccupation with their physical appearance, and the mental health issues that tie in with this.

“Beauty is one way women can out-do others and try to maximize their lot in life, but it’s important to remember that beauty has a shelf-life and obsessing over your appearance comes with other risks and challenges,” Blake added.

It is worth noting that LGBTQIA people are just as affected by economic disparity.

LGBTQI people are more likely than their peers to live in poverty, according to a report from the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative, which shows how indicators of economic disparity including food insecurity, housing instability, low-wage earning potential and unemployment and under-employment are all heightened for LGBTQI communities.

Continue Reading

NEWSMAKERS

Empathy for perpetrators helps explain victim blaming in sexual harassment

It is widely assumed that a lack of empathy for female victims explains why people blame them, but a study found that empathy for the male sexual harasser was a more consistent explanation of variability in victim blame.

Published

on

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pexels.com

Men’s empathy for other men who sexually harass women may help explain why they are more likely to blame victims, new research suggests.

The paper, published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly, is entitled: “Why women are blamed for being sexually harassed: The effects of empathy for female victims and male perpetrators.”

The research, based on two studies, compared people’s reactions after reading about an incident of sexual harassment.

In the first study, men and women showed equal levels of empathy for the female victim – but men’s greater empathy for the male perpetrator explained why they were more likely than women to blame the victim.

The second study was an experiment where people were asked to focus on the man’s or the woman’s point of view before reading the same information. Both men and women who focused on the male perpetrator’s point of view showed greater empathy for him and blamed the female victim more.

The researchers, from the universities of Exeter, Queensland and Bath, say their findings highlight a dark side to empathy.

“Despite movements such as #MeToo, women still fear negative consequences of making a sexual harassment complaint,” said Dr. Renata Bongiorno, of the University of Exeter, who led the research. “Many women encounter victim-blaming attitudes when they do, especially from men. In our research, victim blaming wasn’t high overall – but consistent with past research it was higher in men than in women on average.”

READ:  Violence against lesbians, bisexual and trans women is violence against women - R-Rights

It is widely assumed that a lack of empathy for female victims explains why people blame them, “but we actually found that empathy for the male sexual harasser was a more consistent explanation of variability in victim blame,” Bongiorno added. “Media reports of sexual harassment – especially involving male perpetrators – often focus on their point of view and the potential damage to their lives for being outed as a sexual harasser.”

The findings point to the damaging consequences of that focus for female victims.

“To improve responding, everyone but especially men, should be mindful that their empathy for a male sexual harasser can increase their likelihood of blaming women for being sexually harassed,” Bongiorno said. “And victim blame continues to make it very difficult for women who are sexually harassed to come forward and get a fair hearing when they do.”

This is also an issue in the LGBTQIA community.

In June, for instance, a study found that around seven out of 10 LGBT workers experienced at least one type of sexual harassment at work and almost one in eight LGBT women reported being seriously sexually assaulted or raped at work. But this is a hidden problem with two thirds of those who were harassed not reporting it.

Continue Reading

NEWSMAKERS

Race-based discrimination, stereotypes still ubiquitous in online communities and mobile apps

The degree to which racial and ethnic minorities perceive race-based partner selection as racist often gets overshadowed by “personal preference” narratives.

Published

on

Race-based discrimination and stereotypes are ubiquitous in the online communities and mobile apps that gay and bisexual men use to search for sexual and romantic partners, research indicates.

But because racialized sexual discrimination – also called sexual racism – is a relatively new area of study, researchers currently don’t have a tool for measuring its impact on the well-being of men of color who use these websites, according to University of Illinois social work professor Ryan Wade.

Wade and Gary W. Harper, a professor of health behavior and health education at the University of Michigan, have developed a scale to help researchers better understand how the psychological well-being of ethnic minorities is affected by RSD experiences.

Wade presented their latest research on the topic at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Philadelphia on Nov. 6. He and Harper are the co-authors of a new study, a comprehensive review of prior research on RSD that was published recently in the American Journal of Community Psychology.

Wade and Harper found that RSD emerges in a variety of forms and contexts in these online communities and, less often, when men meet potential partners in person. These include prominent statements in users’ online profiles that express inclusionary or exclusionary racial preferences for potential partners.

The researchers note that these race-based preferences – usually expressed by the white majority seeking to exclude people of color – are a common part of the narrative within these online spaces.

READ:  Old Balara Pride Council: Aiming for meaningful LGBT participation

However, the degree to which racial and ethnic minorities perceive race-based partner selection as racist gets overshadowed by these personal preference narratives, Wade said.

Whiteness is the hallmark of desirability for some participants in these networks, and some researchers have called race-based partner selection “the new face of racism in online sexual and dating networks of gay/bisexual men,” according to Wade and Harper’s study.

RSD also emerges in statements that reject, erotically objectify or denigrate men of color and perpetuate stereotypes about their perceived sexual prowess, sexual roles or physical attributes.

Wade and Harper hypothesize that exposure to these experiences may foment feelings of shame, humiliation and inferiority, negatively impacting the self-esteem and overall psychological health of racial and ethnic minorities.

“We ran a series of focus groups to talk about this phenomenon, to determine the different domains it includes and to identify RSD-related experiences that could be measured,” Wade said.

Using information gathered from focus group participants, Wade and Harper developed a scale of RSD that categorized men’s experiences into four domains – exclusion, rejection, degradation and erotic objectification.

The scale consists of 60 items that assess a broad scope of unique RSD experiences across all four of the hypothesized domains, accounting for the effect and frequency of these experiences and the perpetrator’s race.

“RSD perpetrated by in-group members – people of their same race – came up as a major point in our focus group discussions,” Wade said. “Participants discussed how being discriminated against by people of their own racial or ethnic group hurt in a unique way, so we wanted to account for that too when developing the scale.”

READ:  Teaching Deaf Mindanawons about community-based HIV screening

The overall impact of any given RSD experience is measured by multiplying the frequency and effect scores for each domain, Wade said.

To test the scale, Wade and Harper launched a project called ProfileD, in which they recruited young gay and bisexual black men ages 18-29 through social media to participate in an online survey about their RSD experiences.

Data from more than 2,000 participants who consented to be in that project were used in preliminary analyses of the scale.

Discrimination among apps users is not exactly new.

In October 2019, for instance, a study found that Grindr, the most popular dating app for gay, bisexual, two-spirit and queer men, had a negative effect on men’s body image, especially when it came to weight. The study also found that apart from weight stigma, body dissatisfaction stemmed from sexual objectification and appearance comparison.

Three out of four gay men are reported to have used Grindr.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Most Popular