Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Research Project in the Making

My current project involves an in depth look at gender, sex, sexuality, and orientation. I am working on a hypothesis of how these are actually divided up, what is fluid, how fluid the different aspects are and the potential rates for each different 'classification.' As many who look into gender in any depth know, it's complicated. So is a persons sex, sexuality and orientation. I am going to go through my current basic breakdowns in the hopes of getting some feedback on what others think of it. Parts of this will likely make up the subject matter for my masters thesis as well as my PhD dissertation.

So here are the basic breakdowns:
Sex – (C)ASAB, Sex Identity, Sex Attribution, Body Map Fluidity
Gender – Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Gender Attribution, Gender Identity Fluidity, Gender Expression Fluidity
Orientation – Sexual Orientation, Romantic Orientation, Orientation Attribution, Sexual Orientation Fluidity, Romantic Orientation Fluidity
Sexuality – Libido, Exploration, Expression, Identification, Identification Fluidity, Libido Fluidity

Each of the second categories have the various classifications; e.g. ASAB → AFAB/AMAB. The ones I still need to work on are in the Sexuality category as that is the area I have done the least formal thought on for this kind of project. I really feel that doing this kind of mapping can help someone realize that they are complicated, fluid and that it is okay. While most people seem to assume that their ASAB = Sex Identity = Gender Identity = Gender Expression and that Sexual and Romantic Orientations are the same. While part of the research I want to do on this includes asking people these kinds of questions to find out if my hypothesis (that people assume SO and RO are the same etc) is correct I also want to use the fleshed out (and fully researched) version of this as a potential prop for therapists working with gender or sexuality “atypical” people to really look into themselves and to be able to clearly share this kind of information with their family or friends who they are having difficulties discussing these topics with.

While therapy isn't my area of interest I want my research to have practical applications for people and I hope that this is the start of something that can really help people who are struggling with identity issues. It can also help people who just need to understand what someone is talking about. By putting together a clear reference point a person can say oh on this categorization scale my Sexual Orientation is Homo and my Romantic Orientation is Hetero, both however are highly fluid. This tells a clinician something specific and useful about doing relationship therapy with the person. E.g. that the person is homosexual and heteroromantic but that they aren't stable things and may change depending on the other people involved or even just randomly. However if the romantic orientation was stable then the clinician knows that the person may be having problems in their homoromantic relationship because the client isn't homoromantic and that isn't likely to change over time either.

This gives me the idea of working on developing a set of measures to help determine a persons categories. (I really need a better word for it but right now, that's all I have. Ideas would be useful.) For example doing a 'fill in the blank' where the person puts down what they think of themselves as for each scale then have a series of questions that can help determine the answers as well. A clinical interview would also be useful to help make sure that there is a complete picture of the client. This is straying out of my field of expertise though so I will end the pondering there.

Long story short; I am working on teasing out the complicated areas of sex and gender as well as how they interact with others. I will be going into more detail on each of the different categories over the next week or two and will continue to do updates on this as the idea and the research gets more fleshed out.

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