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MAMTA Health Institute for Mother & Child | New Delhi

Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation

Sexual identity is the degree to which we identify with the social and biological aspects of being a man or a woman. Many men and women identify primarily with their biological sex but transgendered people identify more with the biological and social characteristics of the other gender. An integral part of sexual identity is sexual orientation, which essentially is defined by who we are emotionally and/or physically attracted to.

Sexual orientation is the term used to describe a person's underlying sexual preferences. It refers to a consistent pattern of sexual arousal toward persons of the same or a different gender, encompassing fantasy, conscious attractions, emotional and romantic feelings, and sexual behaviours. Typically a person may be identified as primarily heterosexual (the focus is primarily people of the opposite sex), homosexual (people of the same sex), bisexual (potentially both or either sexes), or asexual (no sexual attraction for either sex).

Sexual orientation is regarded as a complex phenomenon that is influenced by biological, social, cultural, economic, and political factors. In general, the ways in which people behave are determined and at times controlled by some social norms about how life should be lived. It is commonly believed that homosexuals and heterosexuals are discrete populations in society. But the fact is that homosexuality or heterosexuality may be phases in the life of a person. It is possible that a heterosexual person becomes homosexual or vice versa.

Read more about LGBT, and Sexuality and Labelling.

Know more about Heterosexism and Homophobia and how it leads to discrimination and violence.

Read about reproductive and sexual health rights of young people.

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