A lot of people think about sexual orientation and gender as stable characteristics of the self–they think that people are just born a certain way. While it’s certainly true that many people do demonstrate stability in these traits throughout their lives, not everyone does. Many people experience some degree of sexual and/or gender fluidity, which can manifest in unexpected shifts in identity and expression over time. To be clear, this isn’t to say that sexuality and gender are conscious choices that people can simply change at will at any time, nor is it to say that sexual orientation and gender identity have no genetic or biological basis; rather, it’s just that sexuality and gender can be more dynamic across the lifespan than you might think.

For this episode of the podcast, I took a deep dive into the science of sexual and gender fluidity with Dr. Lisa Diamond, a Professor of Psychology and Gender Studies at the University of Utah.  She is author of the incredible book Sexual Fluidity.

Some of the topics we explore in this episode include:

  • How common is sexual fluidity, and what does it look like?
  • What is gender fluidity, and how is it similar to or different from being nonbinary or transgender?
  • How do sexual and gender fluidity intersect? Are people who are fluid in one way more likely to be fluid in others?
  • Where does fluidity come from, and is it possible that fluidity (as opposed to stability) is the really the norm?
  • Are essentialist arguments, such as the “born this way” concept, necessary and helpful in the pursuit of LGBTQ+ rights?
  • What does it mean to have a “sexual orientation?” Is it inherently about sex/gender-based attractions? Or do we all have multiple orientations, with sex/gender being just one type of orientation?

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Credits: LEGIT Audio (Podcast editing) and Shutterstock/Florian (Music). Image created with Canva; photos used with permission of guest.