Thu | Aug 13, 2020

Garth Rattray | The unnatural primacy of ‘sex’ (Part 1)

Published:Monday | September 23, 2019 | 12:00 AM

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sex, per se. However, nowadays, everything seems to be all about sex, sex, and more sex. The only reason that we exist is sex, so it isn’t a bad thing. This is how we procreate naturally. Sex used to be in the background and, given the intimate, sensitive and private nature of the subject, unless there is some specific, important or educational reason for raising the topic, that is where it belongs.

Not long ago, one’s personal sex life and sexual leaning were very private. Now, many people boldly announce their sexual orientation to the entire world. It’s TMI (too much information). There is an explosion of people publicising that they are heterosexual, homosexual, demisexual, sapiosexual, heteroflexible, bisexual, polysexual or ‘queer’, some say ‘questioning’. Transgender is a state of mind and is, strangely enough, not thought of as homosexuality.

Because so many have a burning desire to publicly declare their sexuality, people are wondering if there’s a sharp increase in the incidents of alternate sexual orientation. Is it genetic, hormonal/chemical, learned, something to do with environmental chemical toxins, radiation or the contagious permissiveness of modern-day society? Some actually suspect that it’s a pervasive ‘evil spirit’ let loose among humankind.

I do not believe that alternative sexual lifestyles are on the increase. Some societies are becoming more liberal and allowing the expression of varied sexualities. And I’ve learnt that those who ‘come out’ and perhaps even march/demonstrate to showcase their sexuality, do so in order to bring it out of the dark, where they are more susceptible to institutionalised/systemised prejudice and persecution.


I have absolutely nothing against people with alternative sexualities. I have had, and still have, friends (females and males) who just happen to be homosexual and even bisexual. They know what I am and I accept them for what they are. When asked about their ‘feelings’, they explain that they were always attracted to the same gender. I suppose they feel about the same gender as I feel about the opposite gender.

Because of this, I never see them as evil or deviant. I simply see them as different from me and I never judge them. It just so happens that I was never born with their psychological/behavioural wiring. Perhaps some are the way that they are because of their social environment, grooming or abuse. Either way, I believe that something so private should not define anyone or take primacy in any society.

Then there are the various gender identities that I found on the Internet – “male, female, transgender, gender neutral, non-binary, agender, pangender, genderqueer, two-spirit, third gender, and all, none or a combination of these”. I can’t explain them. Those affected say that they feel trapped in the wrong body. There’s a raging debate that it’s gender dysphoria vs body dysmorphic disorder . Whichever it is, many jurisdictions allow and even support radical, irreversible surgery to change the anatomical appearance of people wanting to lead the life of the opposite gender.

Our gender is determined/set at conception, so this talk of ‘sex-change’ operations is ridiculous. If someone earnestly associates with being one-legged or blind, it would be illegal to amputate a limb or enucleate eyes to facilitate that urge. But, since the feelings have to do with ‘sex’, major reconstruction and genital mutilation is facilitated. There needs to be a fulsome discussion around surgically altering anatomical gender appearances versus counselling/medication to adjust those feelings.

Although there’s much more to us than just ‘sex’, it permeates, affects and controls all spheres of society. Pushing ‘sex’ in everyone’s face sends the wrong message. We need to put it into perspective.

Next week – Interpersonal Sex

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and