Causes of sexuality

Sexuality is complex and ever-changing and everyone’s is unique. People’s sexualities are influenced by a complicated interaction of many things including: the culture they are born into which tells them what kinds of sex are more or less acceptable; biological processes such as the level of sex hormones which are present at different times; the relationships which they see around them as they grow up; the ways in which their particular body works; the images and experiences which they personally link to sex as they grow up; and the decisions they themselves make about the sexual practices they do or do not engage in.

It doesn’t make sense to ask whether a person’s sexuality is ’caused’ by ‘nature or nurture’, or whether it is ‘chosen’, because of this complex interaction, and because our bodies (including our brains) are always changing as a result of the experiences we have, and our experiences are impacted by our bodies. Some people have a strong sense of some aspects of their sexuality being there from before they were aware of them, and some feel that the same aspects were something they chose to pursue, or something which emerged later in life. It should not make a difference to how people treat each other whether our sexualities can be linked to biological and/or social factors, or whether they can be viewed as more determined by outside or internal forces or more personally chosen[18].

Sexual identities

18. Shaw, L., Butler, C., Langdridge, D., Gibson, S., Barker, M., Lenihan, P., das Nair, R. & Richards, C. (2012). Guidelines for Psychologists Working Therapeutically with Sexual and Gender Minority Clients. Leicester: British Psychological Society.

Sexual identities