RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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Pediatric sexology and hermaphroditism.

Lacking an empirically based theory of erotosexual development and health in childhood, pediatrics too easily falls back on reductionistic hypotheses of the nature versus nurture type. A new, three-term paradigm, namely, nature/critical-period/nurture, is needed to explain, for example, the phenomenology of hermaphroditism, and the differentiation of gender-identity/role (G-I/R) in individual cases. In 30 young women with a history of the early-treated, 46,XX congenital virilizing adrenal hyperplasia (CVAH) syndrome, 37% (N = 11) had a history of bisexual imagery or practice, as compared with 7% in the control patients (chi 2 = 17.7; p less than .001); and 5 of these 11 rated themselves as exclusively or predominantly lesbian. In Kinsey's sample, 15% of females reported homoerotic imagery by age 20, and 2 out of 3 of them also had homoerotic partner contact. The CVAH finding may be a function of prenatal and/or neonatal brain androgenization, but other variables, such as the history of juvenile erotosexual rehearsal play, cannot be ruled out. Among adolescents with a history of hermaphroditism, sex-reassignment applications are honored predominantly if they are made by 46,XY hermaphrodites assigned neonatally as girls and with nonfeminizing hormonal puberty, as medical and folk traditions both favor approval of such applicants more than others. Parthenogenic whiptail lizards that alternately simulate the male and female mating behavior of related diecious species provide an animal model that demonstrates the existence of both male and female sexual schemas in the same brain. In human beings, the irreducible sex differences are that males impregnate, and females menstruate, gestate, and lactate. Otherwise, sexual dimorphism that is programmed into the brain under the influence of prenatal hormones appears to be not sex-irreducible, but sex-shared and threshold-dimorphic. A complete theory of the differentiation of all the constituents of masculinity or femininity of G-I/R needs to be both multivariate and sequential in type. It must be applicable to all of the syndromes of hermaphroditism, and to the genesis of all the G-I/R phenomena, including transvestism and transsexualism, as well as to the genesis of a heterosexual G-I/R.

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