You are here:

Psychology/Why do gender and orientation matter?



Why do so many people feel strongly about gender identity and sexual orientation? (I do not mean to sound critical towards gay or trans, etc. people-straight, cis, etc. frequently do this too.) I have never cared about these things in myself or others. I don't see them as part of who I am.

If I woke up one day as a different gender or sexual orientation, I do not imagine I would be upset by it, aside from the inconvenience. In my Human Sexuality class, the professor asked how we would feel if this happened to us, and nearly all of the class said that they would feel angry and want to change back. I provided my answer, and a few people interrupted to say I did not understand and was being insensitive.

I was in the LGBTQIA Club in my school for 3 semesters and I never participated much, but it seems like these issues are so important to some people, but for all of my listening and asking questions, I cannot grasp why.

Thank you for your time.

I think there are two questions here.  One is why are gay and trans people sensitive about their gender identity and sexual orientation?  The second is why do other people feel uncomfortable around gay and transgender people, and why are they upset by people who have different gender identities and sexual orientations?

Gender identity is a very large part of most people's sense of self. Most people identify themselves as either male or female.  In most societies, there are roles, social norms and expectations based on gender.  People want to be recognized and accepted as the gender that they consider themselves to be.

I think it is very unusual for someone to not see gender and sexual orientation as important to their sense of self.  How would you describe yourself? ARe gender and sexual orientation included in the description?  Why or why not?  Why did you join the LGBTQIA club?   

In terms of other people judging trans and gay people - this has to do with fear.  It makes many people fearful and uncomfortable to think that gender could be fluid, or that people can experience same sex attraction.  This mostly has to do with what kinds of messages they got from their families and others as they were growing up.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Katherine ONeill


I can answer academic questions about psychology. I am not a clinician (therapist), I am a research psychologist with expertise in biopsychology, general psychology, cognitive psychology, research methods and psychopharmacology.


I have 25 years experience as a researcher in health behavior, biopsychology and psychopharmacology.

Healthcare Businesswomen's Association

Applications of Market Research for Small Business UMBC Activate Program, March 2008 HIV/AIDS: An assessment of Need in the Continuum of Care. Optum Health Education., 12/2008 Maximizing the online medium for market research: Best practices. Market Research for Pharmaceuticals Conference, 12/06/2006 O誰eill, K.A. APD, ADD, ADHD and AD/HD: Personal and scientific reflections. Audiology Online, 6/6/2005. O誰eill, K.A. et al, Hyperactivity induced by NMDA injections into the nucleus accumbens. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 34(4), Dec 1989, 739-745. O誰eill, K.A. and Liebman, J.M. Unique behavioral effects of the NMDA antagonist, CPP, upon injection into the medial prefrontal cortex of rats. Brain Research, 435(1-2), Dec 1987, 371-376. O誰eill, K.A. and Gertner, S.B. Effects of centally administered H2 antagonists on motor activity. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. 264, 1987, 683-686. O誰eill, K.A. and Gertner, S.B. Effects of centrally administered H2 antagonists in the behavioral despair test. 90(2), 1986, 190-192. O誰eill, K.A. Chronic desipramine attenuates morphine analgesia. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior. 24(1), Jan 1986, 155 158. O誰eill, K.A. and Valentino, D. Escapability and generalization: Effect on 礎ehavioral despair. European Journal of Pharmacology 78(3), March 1982, 379-80. O誰eill, K.A. et al, An automated high capacity method for measuring jumping latencies on a hot plate. Journal of Pharmacological Methods, 10(1), Aug 1983, 13-18. O誰eill, K.A., Scott, C. and Weissman, A. Naloxone enhances nociceptive responding. Society for Neuroscience, Abstract 9: 274, 1983.

Ph.D. Experimental Psychology, University of Rhode Island, 1983. Post doctoral fellow dept of psychiatry, New York University Medical Center, 1983-1984. Post doctoral fellow, dept of pharmacology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 1984-1985.

©2016 All rights reserved.