Please refer to the Table of Contents for list of specific behaviors discussed under this section.
The purpose of this section is to provide greater understanding of the many diverse forms of sexual behavior as they relate to personnel security. This will facilitate adjudicative decisions based on demonstrable security concerns rather than commonly accepted myths or the personal moral values of individual adjudicators.
Promiscuity is a potential concern to the extent that it is concealed or regarded as shameful, as it may create vulnerability to influence or coercion. Given the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, extreme promiscuity may indicate a propensity for high-risk behavior, poor judgment, or behavior that is out of control.
This section discusses heterosexual promiscuity under the following topics:
Group sex takes various forms including threesomes, orgies, partner-swapping or swinging, group marriages, and some communal arrangements. A common element is that sexual activity is pursued as recreation, rather than as an expression of emotional commitment to another person. One study estimated that 24% of single males and 7% of single females have engaged in some form of group sex, although most did this only once. 41.
Some research suggests that 2% of all married couples, mainly middle to upper class couples with children, have shared mates at least once during their marriage. The same source reported that in 1998 there were "about 3 million married, middle-aged, middle-class swingers," an increase of about 1 million since 1990.42 In 2000, the president of the North American Swing Club Association (NASCA) reported that his group had increased from 150 to 310 affiliates in the previous five years.43 NASCA reported in 2003 that there were about 400 swing clubs in the United States, most of which were open to couples only. As many as 4,000 have attended a popular, annual swingers convention and NASCA's mailing list consists of approximately 30,000 individuals and couples.42,44 One possible explanation for the continuing increase is that the Internet has replaced swingers' magazines as the principal means of locating interested participants.
Swinging, or partner swapping, is an attempt to reconcile two seemingly conflicting desires--the desire for sexual variety and the wish to maintain a stable relationship. Generally, couples engage in swinging, although singles commonly participate. Recreational sex of this type may take place only in private with close friends (closed swinging) or with strangers at organized events held for that purpose (open swinging). 42.
Some couples have rigid agreements as to when, where, and what is permissible, while other couples mutually agree on complete sexual freedom. Swingers often refer to the three primary rules of swinging etiquette: 1) consideration for your spouse; 2) decency--meaning you don't touch another unless invited; and 3) politeness (i.e., using a condom if the partner requests).42. For additional information, see Research on Swinging.
Group sex may raise moral issues for many people. Whether or not it raises security concerns depends upon the type, frequency, recency, and circumstances of the activity.
Depending upon recency and frequency, participation in any form of group sex may contribute to a decision against security approval if it is part of a pattern of dissolute behavior (drinking, drugs, gambling), high-risk behavior, or emotional immaturity. It may not be a significant security concern if pursued discreetly, and if subject shows no other behavioral weaknesses and medical evaluation indicates no emotional instability.
Potential for influence or coercion may not be a significant security issue if the swinging is a consensual activity with one's spouse or primary partner. Swinging in private with a few close friends is of less concern than attending a swinger's club or having a number of anonymous contacts.
Swinging may become a security concern when behavior is in direct opposition to the subject's espoused beliefs and values (i.e., social, political or religious). Even when he or she rationalizes the behavior as being acceptable, a willingness to act out against one's personally stated beliefs and morals values of the organizations one publicly supports may indicate disloyalty as well as increased vulnerability to influence or coercion.
Valid research on psychological attributes of swingers is very limited and dated. Many swingers believe that so long as behavior is accordant with espoused beliefs, it can be healthy. What little research is available, combined with anecdotal evidence, suggests that swinging may be one of several unusual varieties of sexual preference that are not necessarily associated with emotional disorder. Nevertheless, psychological or psychiatric evaluation would be appropriate prior to denial or approval of any case in which group sex is an issue.
One serious problem with studies of swingers is that the sample is limited to currently active swingers; the unsuccessful swingers had dropped out. One study found that about three-quarters dropped the activity within one year.46 Another found that many couples tended to expand gradually from swinging, in which the couple participated together, to individual sexual involvements and long-term intimate relationships with others. 47
In 1998, Dr. Richard Jenks reviewed fifteen studies of swinging conducted since 1970. He reports that most swingers are middle- to upper-middle class with above average educations, incomes, and organizational status (i.e., management and professional positions). Over 90% of swingers are white and nearly two-thirds are between age 28 and 45. Swingers tend to be politically conservative.
Across these studies Jenks found no major personality differences between swingers and nonswingers. In one study, swingers were slightly more irritable and had less self-restraint than nonswingers. Another study reviewed by Jenks, and conducted by Brian Gilmartin in 1978, compared 100 swingers in suburban Los Angeles with a matched control group of 100 nonswingers. 48
A strong finding of the Gilmartin study was that, as adolescents, swingers experienced all forms of erotic and romantic behavior at an earlier age than nonswingers. This generally correlates with a life-long, stronger-than-average sex drive. Swingers were far more likely to have experienced divorce; many married young and divorced soon thereafter. Swingers were as happy as or happier with their current relationships as the nonswingers. Swingers considered themselves monogamous from the standpoint of emotional and psychological commitment to their spouses, and they had intercourse with their spouses a great deal more frequently than the nonswingers.
Gilmartin also found that many swingers (38%) first met their spouses at swinging singles gatherings; in other words, the swinging preceded the marriage. Almost as many swingers as nonswingers had children, and most swingers said they would be pleased if their children adopted the same lifestyle; in many cases the parents had already facilitated their children's introduction to swinging.
Jenks found that the most pressing problem associated with swinging was that of sexually transmitted diseases. At least one study showed that 33% of husbands and 10% of wives feared contracting a venereal disease. About 58% expressed some fear of AIDS and 22% knew someone with the virus. Many, 62%, had become "safer" swingers because of AIDS and 7% had quit swinging altogether. 42
Two problems addressed by Jenks have direct implications for personnel security. First, Jenks notes that fear of exposure is a common concern among swingers. Such fear makes subjects vulnerable to influence or coercion. Next, Jenks notes that swinging may be a precursor to sexual addiction if the time devoted to swinging comes to dominate the swinger's life. For more information see Compulsive or Addictive Sexual Behavior.
Use of prostitutes by a married man may reflect poor judgment, a propensity for irresponsible or high-risk behavior, adjustment problems, or that sexual behavior is out of control. For many men who use prostitutes, this is a secret activity with substantial penalties. These penalties include public embarrassment and marital problems. There may be a financial drain as well as call girls can charge as much as $2,000 per encounter.
Paying for sex while traveling abroad on official business is a security concern, as it may attract attention from the local security service. Even within the United States, there is potential for arrest and embarrassment as police in many areas mount periodic crackdowns on prostitution.
There have been few systematic studies of men who patronize prostitutes. Demographics from a 2001 study of 140 men arrested for soliciting sex from a prostitute found them to have an average age of 34 years, with ages ranging from 19 to 66. Most had at least some college education, 43% were married, 42% were single, 15% were divorced, separated, or widowed, and 63% reported having no children. Seventeen percent had sought professional help for their use of prostitutes, 17% reported that other people had expressed concern over their use of prostitutes, and over half had tried to stop using prostitutes. Older men were more likely to report enjoying sex with a prostitute. 49
In a 1990-1991 Los Angeles County study using a probability sample of 638 street prostitutes, blood tests found that 33.7% had been infected with syphilis at some point in their lives, 15.2% were probably infected at the time of the study, 32.6% were infected with Hepatitis-B, and 2.5% were infected with the AIDS virus. The percentage of prostitutes with AIDS is believed to be much higher in other areas; the low percentage in Los Angeles reflects the unusually low percentage of HIV virus among heterosexual drug users in that area.59 In Miami, for example, where 91% of female sex workers were also crack-cocaine users, a study of 300 prostitutes has found that 17% were infected with HIV, 51% tested positive for Hepatitis B, and 41% were positive for Hepatitis C. 50
Premarital sex, by itself, is not a security concern. It could become of interest if it falls into another category of concern, such as sexual addiction or a pattern of notorious behavior that shows poor judgment.
Cohabitation of unmarried persons is relevant to security only because the partner must also be investigated.
Adultery or marital infidelity is voluntary intercourse with a partner who is not the lawful spouse. It may be a security concern only if it creates vulnerability to blackmail, financial pressures, or is sufficiently notorious to indicate poor judgment.
Most surveys of marital infidelity have used a group of volunteers rather than a scientifically selected sample, a methodological flaw that raises serious questions about the validity of the findings. Such studies typically report infidelity rates that are considerably higher than scientifically conducted surveys. One study in 2002 that did use a scientifically selected sample of 2,765 respondents found that 24% of married men and 16% of married women had had at least one sexual partner other than their spouse at some time during their marriage. Additionally, 90% of men and 94% of women felt it was "always wrong" or "almost always wrong" to have sex outside of marriage. 51
When one or both partners give permission to the other to engage in extramarital sexual relations, this is sometimes referred to as an open marriage. One study of 4,246 persons over age 50 found that about 5% had the spouse's approval for extramarital relations.52 Reasons for such agreements may include incompatible sexual needs, one partner has a sexual dysfunction, the marriage is continued for practical reasons without emotional commitment, or there is mutual consent to separate sex from emotional commitment.
The term "gender transposition" signifies that one or more components of masculine or feminine identity is transposed so as to be opposite from the anatomical gender. Scientific understanding of gender transpositions is still limited, but there is a growing conviction among researchers that these conditions are, to a substantial degree, influenced prior to birth.
This section deals with:
All fetuses start their development as females. If the male Y chromosome is present, it normally triggers the release of male sex hormones and neurohormonal chemicals which cause development of male organs during the first to fifth month of pregnancy.
Release of some hormones may be insufficient to clearly establish one or more aspects of the male identity. Based on experimental studies with animals, there is reason to suspect that an anomaly in prenatal hormone function may influence sexual pathways in the central nervous system to remain sexually undifferentiated or potentially bisexual. If so, individuals affected by this would respond easily to postnatal influences that tip sexual orientation in one direction or the other. 53
During gestation, complex chemical processes occur in the brain and throughout the body of the fetus. Because these processes operate over time, one or more of them may not continue to completion, which can cause either obvious or subtle and hidden results. Transpositions may take different forms and vary in degree of severity. The following transpositions may occur:
Sexual transpositions occur naturally in other mammals as well as in humans. Transpositions have also been induced in experiments with pregnant laboratory animals which then gave birth to homosexual offspring. For example, male offspring of female rats subjected to severe emotional stress during the last trimester of pregnancy are likely to be homosexual. This happens because stress reduces the level of testosterone in the mother's blood, which in turn affects development of the fetus. 54
Researchers differ on whether prenatal developments only predispose to a given sexual orientation or rather firmly determine that orientation. Both could be true under different circumstances. According to Masters et al., "There may be different types of homosexuality, each of which originates in a different way." 55
John Money, a leading researcher on the psychobiology of sex, writes that "with respect to orientation as homosexual or bisexual in the human species, there is no evidence that prenatal hormonalization alone, independently of postnatal history, inexorably preordains either orientation." He explains that prenatal developments will facilitate subsequent development of a homosexual or bisexual orientation, but only if the postnatal determinants are also present. Money believes that one's "lovemap" is formed during late infancy and childhood prior to puberty, and that developments during puberty and adolescence play little role. 56
On the other hand, Lee Ellis and Ashley Ames, after reviewing more than 300 research reports on this subject, conclude that "...complex combinations of genetic, hormonal, neurological, and environmental factors operating prior to birth largely determine what an individual's sexual orientation will be, although the orientation itself awaits the onset of puberty to be activated, and may not entirely stabilize until early adulthood." 54
Ellis and Ames believe one's early sexual experiences and other environmental factors also contribute to a homosexual or heterosexual orientation, but that these experiences after birth may only influence how, when, and where one expresses the basic sexual orientation formed in the womb.
Although scientists disagree on the extent to which biological versus environmental factors influence the development of sexual orientation, it is commonly held that both are important factors in the manifestation of homosexual orientation. However, after years of empirical research, the distinct causes of homosexuality are still unknown. As Drescher stated in 1998: "The origins of human sexual attraction still remain an unsolved mystery." 57
Sexual orientation alone is not an appropriate basis for security concern, but it may be a suitability issue for employment in some occupations. The circumstances of each case should be evaluated in the context of specific security risks and job suitability requirements.
Individual homosexuals, like heterosexuals, sometimes encounter emotional problems adjusting to their sexuality, and this may be considered under the Psychological Conditions guideline. As a group, however, homosexuals do not differ from heterosexuals in their emotional stability or psychological adjustment. Homosexuality is not a mental or emotional disorder. For further information, see Homosexuality and Emotional Stability.
There is no evidence to support the belief that being homosexual predisposes one to unreliability, disloyalty, or untrustworthiness. Large individual differences in honesty and morality are found among heterosexuals as well as homosexuals. 58
Homosexual lifestyles are as varied as heterosexual lifestyles. Some lifestyles raise security concerns while others do not. For example, the regular "cruising" associated with some homosexual lifestyles does involve a degree of promiscuity and sexual indiscretion that is difficult to reconcile with some security requirements, especially if the individual may travel or be assigned abroad. For further information, see Homosexual Lifestyles and Prevalence of Homosexuality.
Concealment of homosexuality may cause a person to be vulnerable to threats of exposure, but not necessarily more so than any other person who conceals an embarrassing personal secret. Increased openness and public acceptance of homosexuality have reduced the risk of blackmail, but the possibility remains and is strongest for individuals in positions where exposure of homosexuality may result in job or other personal losses. For more information, see Homosexual Vulnerability to Coercion.
Many studies have applied well-known psychological tests to both homosexuals and heterosexuals to determine if the two groups differed in emotional stability or psychological adjustment. This is an important issue for security policy. If homosexuality were pathological or indicated maladjustment, there would be security concerns to evaluate.
Two independent literature reviews concluded that mental health and social adjustment are unrelated to sexual orientation. "Homosexuals as a group are not more psychologically disturbed on account of their homosexuality."61, 62 For over 30 years, the American Psychological Association has declared that "homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability or general social or vocational capabilities." 63 This is the prevailing view among sex researchers, psychiatrists and psychologists, and it is the rationale that underlies court decisions dealing with the hiring and firing of homosexual personnel. 64
Although research has repeatedly shown there to be no significant differences in the emotional and mental stability of homosexuals and heterosexuals, scientists continue to report that homosexuals are subject to significant amounts of stress as a direct result of their sexual orientation.65 Homosexuals report extensive stress stemming from both latent and expressed desires to conceal their sexual identity.65, 66, 67, 68 Unrealistic attempts to conceal sexual identity may leave an individual emotionally vulnerable and open to exploitation. For more specific information see Homosexual Vulnerability to Coercion.
The stress experienced by homosexuals should be examined in light of how it is handled by each individual. If stress is acknowledged and dealt with appropriately and does not lead to further emotional or mental problems, it may indicate that the individual is very well adjusted within his or her homosexual lifestyle, and that he or she will be able to adjust well to other stressors and life pressures.
Scientific findings on the origin of gender identity and role transpositions have contributed to significant changes in public perception of homosexuals. Attitudes toward homosexuals are considerably more positive among people who believe that homosexuals are "born that way" than among those who believe homosexuality is a conscious choice of lifestyle or an unnatural act. 69
Statistics on the prevalence of homosexuality are not cited here as they are so difficult to evaluate. Findings vary widely depending upon how homosexuality is defined. It is easy to define a single homosexual act, but not so easy to define a homosexual person. Are individuals categorized on the basis of their sexual acts, their emotional feelings, or their self-identification as either heterosexual or homosexual? If categorized on the basis of sexual acts, how much homosexual activity is required before classifying a person as homosexual rather than heterosexual? How should one categorize persons whose sexual preference has changed over time? Some researchers believe bisexuals represent a distinct category often miscounted as homosexual.
Findings on prevalence of homosexuality may also be influenced by how the data are collected, as it is not possible to obtain a random sample of persons willing to talk honestly about sexual behavior that is nonconforming to societal norms.
Close-Coupled: These homosexuals were similar to happily married heterosexuals. They were living together with a sexual partner in a quasi-marriage, and they looked to each other, rather than to outsiders, for sexual and interpersonal satisfaction. They were able to integrate their emotional and their sexual needs. They tended to be better adjusted, have fewer sexual problems, have less regret about their homosexuality, and be more sexually active than the typical homosexual.
The Close-Coupled homosexual may be more trustworthy and less vulnerable to blackmail than the heterosexual who carefully conceals an illicit extramarital relationship.
Open-Coupled: Those in this group were also living with a special sexual partner but were not entirely happy and tended to seek sexual satisfaction with others as well. This group scored higher than average on number of sexual partners, number of sexual problems, and amount of cruising. This was the most common group for male homosexuals. Lesbians were found most frequently in the Close-Coupled category. Open-Coupled males were about average in their psychological and social adjustment, but Open-Coupled females tended to have difficulties. The Open-Coupled females were comparable to the Dysfunctional category on measures of happiness, self-acceptance, paranoia, tension, and depression. The infidelity associated with the Open-Coupled relationship appears to be symptomatic of emotional problems for many females but not for males.
For the Open-Coupled male homosexual, frequency of cruising may be a relevant security consideration; in the San Francisco study, 28% of the males cruised at least once a week. Some lesbians in this category may need to be evaluated for emotional stability.
Functionals: These homosexual men and women organized their lives around their sexual experiences. The closest heterosexual counterpart would be the "swinging single." This group reported more sexual activity, a greater number of partners, more cruising, and less regret at being homosexual than any other group. They were not interested in finding a special partner to settle down with. They tended to be younger, exuberant, very involved with their many friends, more open in their homosexual activity, and involved in the homosexual community. They are also the most likely to have been arrested for a homosexual offense. This group was better adjusted than average, although not quite as well adjusted as the Close-Coupled group.
Although rather well-adjusted emotionally, the Functional homosexual's promiscuity, cruising, and frequent lack of discretion in sexual activity may be a security concern. Of the Functional male homosexuals in the San Francisco study, 76% were cruising at least once a week. Cruising of homosexual bars was characteristic of 65%, while 40% cruised on the street. The study found that every one of the male Functional homosexuals had at least 20 different sexual partners during the previous year. Many had far more than that. For an employee assigned or traveling overseas, this type of activity is likely to attract the attention of a local security or intelligence service. On the other hand, Functional homosexuals tend to be somewhat more open about their homosexuality and, therefore, less vulnerable to blackmail. Female homosexuals are far less likely than males to be promiscuous or to engage in anonymous sexual contacts. Cruising was unusual among Functional lesbians, and only 10% of them had more than 20 different sexual partners during the previous year.
Dysfunctionals: This group resembled the stereotype of the tormented homosexual. They were not coupled, but scored high on level of sexual activity and number of partners. They were troubled people whose lives offered little gratification. They showed a poor adjustment sexually, socially, and psychologically. They were much more likely to regret their homosexuality. Among the men, they were the most likely to report robbery, assault, extortion, or job difficulties as a result of their homosexuality. They were a bit less likely than the open-coupled males to have been arrested for a homosexual offense, but more likely to have been arrested for some other offense. The women were more likely than other homosexual types to have needed long-term professional help for an emotional problem. About 20% of the homosexuals clearly fell into this Dysfunctional category.
About 66% of the Dysfunctional male homosexuals cruised at least once a week, 90% had at least 20 sexual partners during the previous year, 80% reported difficulty finding suitable sexual partners, about half reported problems of psychological adjustment, and 43% reported that their homosexuality had harmed their career.
Individuals of this type may be vulnerable to exploitation by others, including hostile security or intelligence services. Psychological evaluation of emotional problems may be appropriate.
Asexuals: The most prominent characteristic of this group was a low sex drive and relative lack of involvement with other people. They were not coupled but differed from the Dysfunctionals by scoring low on level of sexual interest and number of partners. They had more sexual problems than other homosexuals and often complained of difficulty in finding a partner. They expressed more regret over their homosexuality, were less exclusively homosexual and more covert in their homosexual activity than other respondents. Female asexuals were more likely to rate themselves as bisexual and to have sought professional help concerning their sexual orientation.
Cruising was rare among the Asexual males, and none had more than 20 sexual partners during the previous year. On the other hand, Asexuals were more likely to conceal their homosexuality and, therefore, may be more vulnerable to blackmail. Almost half of this group reported problems of psychological adjustment. About 75% reported difficulty finding a suitable sexual partner, which may make an individual vulnerable to exploitation.
This vulnerability may be quite significant for an individual who travels or works in foreign countries. As with the Dysfunctionals, psychological evaluation of emotional problems may be appropriate.
Although the statistics regarding cruising presented in this section have likely changed since AIDS awareness programs have been implemented, the distinct categorizations described here can still be used to classify patterns of homosexual lifestyle and adjustment. Homosexuals who are accepting and unashamed of their sexual orientation are less vulnerable to coercion or threats to reveal their sexual identity than those who make a concerted effort to conceal their homosexuality. On the other hand, promiscuous sexual behavior of any kind, homosexual or heterosexual, may leave an individual vulnerable to exploitation by foreign or hostile intelligence operatives.
A Security Practices Board of Review convened by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1992 concluded that "the evidence indicates that homosexuals, 'in or out of the closet,' are no more vulnerable to coercion or blackmail than heterosexuals." 71 Most people have personal secrets they would prefer to keep private. A heterosexual adulterer may be just as vulnerable to coercion as a concealed homosexual.
Relevant considerations for assessing the vulnerability of both homosexuals and heterosexuals are:
Adjudicators may also consider whether an individual has character strengths or weaknesses that might influence how that person responds to coercion.
On the other hand, recent studies have suggested that homosexuals are subject to considerable stress as a direct result of their sexual orientation, and this could leave some of them vulnerable to outside pressures or coercion. A 2000 study of over 1600 college students from fourteen colleges and universities nationwide found that 51% of homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgendered persons concealed their sexual orientation to avoid intimidation, while almost three-quarters of those who were “out” reported being harassed because of their sexual orientation. Of these, 20% feared for their physical safety. 66
A study of 146 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons at the University of Oregon found that 60% were open with their sexual orientation: 23% were "out" to “everyone” and another 37% were “out” to the majority of people. Thirty-one percent of lesbians and 27% of gays reported concealing their sexual orientation from the general population. Five percent of the sample had been threatened with exposure and about 20% had experienced pressure to hide their sexual orientation. 67
In a 2003 study of 887 openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered high school students from 48 states and the District of Columbia, 84% reported being verbally harassed because of their sexual identity, 39% were physically harassed (pushed, shoved, etc.), 58% reported having personal property stolen or damaged while at school, and 64% felt they were not safe at school. Students reporting harassment also had lower GPAs. These percentages of high school students who experience harassment have increased since 1999, indicating less tolerance for homosexuality in younger age cohorts.68 This is important to consider when granting security clearances to young men and women who may not have come to terms with their sexual identity. Younger homosexuals may experience more pressure to conceal their sexual identity, may suffer more in terms of performance and productivity because of this pressure, and may therefore be more vulnerable to influence or coercion.
As these studies show, homosexuals face a variety of stresses that may leave them vulnerable to undue pressure or coercion. Those who are open about their sexual orientation often experience harassment or are pressured to conceal their homosexuality. Additionally, 40-50% of homosexuals on college campuses actively conceal their sexual orientation from the majority of people, which may make them vulnerable should their lifestyle be discovered. These statistics are significant because college campuses are known to be more accepting of homosexual lifestyles than many other settings. If a large percentage of homosexuals experience pressures to conceal their sexual identity in a relatively “open” college atmosphere, these pressures may be even greater in more conservative surroundings, such as the military or in the workplace.
Although these studies provide ample evidence that homosexuals, particularly young homosexuals, are likely to experience pressure to conceal their sexual identity, they provide no details on the types of pressure or vulnerability. In previous studies of blackmail of homosexuals, the extortion was almost always an amateur effort by a lover, friend, acquaintance, relative, coworker, or neighbor of the homosexual. "The image of the gay person being blackmailed by professional extortionists seems rather mythical," according to one study. 75
Sexual entrapment followed by threats of arrest or blackmail is one of the standard recruitment techniques used by foreign intelligence and security services. This occurs principally in hostile or potentially hostile countries that conduct aggressive intelligence operations against the United States. It is important to note, however, that experience in the Soviet Union and other communist countries indicates that heterosexuals engaging in sexual relations with local nationals have been just as vulnerable to recruitment as homosexuals.
Research on bisexuality has increased considerably in recent years, and many scientists and researchers have begun to identify bisexuality as a distinct sexual orientation. Others maintain it is not a distinct sexual orientation comparable to heterosexuality or homosexuality. There are three alternative interpretations: 76
Extensive interviews of persons who identified themselves as bisexuals have found that sexual behavior and lifestyle associated with those claims varies widely.77, 78 Many are basically homosexual but married. Others grew up conforming to heterosexual social norms but later experienced homosexual desires as a reaction to stress or emotional conflict. Some are hedonists who "swing" both ways but have a clear understanding of their sexual identity as heterosexual or homosexual. 79
At least thirteen different types of bisexuality have been proposed, ranging from traditional bisexuals who have loving, sexual relationships with persons of both sexes to conditional homosexuals, who are heterosexual but will have sex with same-sex partners when there is no access to other-sex partners (such as in jail or the military).80 Several types of bisexuality and their relationship to security are discussed here.
Unfortunately, those who do categorize themselves as bisexual may face greater pressure to conceal their sexual orientation than homosexuals. In a University of Oregon study, bisexuals were more likely than both gays and lesbians to conceal their sexual orientation.67 Many bisexuals report that they don't fit in and feel "left out" by both heterosexual and homosexual groups; they report not having a "place" in society. Therefore, they often try to conceal their bisexuality, either claiming they are 100% gay or 100% straight, in order to maintain social standing. That said, bisexuals may be more vulnerable than homosexuals to outside influence and coercion as a result of their sexual identity.
Patterns of sexual behavior are so diverse that it seems inadvisable to think in terms of neat categories like heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual. The scientific debate over whether there is such a thing as bisexuality, or how to define it, is not relevant to personnel security decisions. What name one ascribes to those who fit between the extremes of exclusive heterosexuality or exclusive homosexuality is far less important than recognition of the immense variety of human sexual behavior, and the ability to deal with individuals as individuals rather than as members of any category.
Transsexualism, literally, means going from one sex to another. A transsexual experiences strong discomfort with his or her biological sex. There is a conviction that, mentally, one is a man trapped in a woman's body, or a woman trapped in a man's body. As with other gender and sexual anomalies, this occurs with varying degrees of severity.
The wish to be a member of the opposite sex commonly dates back to one's earliest childhood memory. The young child may make very emotional assertions that he or she is the other sex. Cross-dressing normally begins early in life, as does play that is more typical of the opposite gender and choice of playmates exclusively of the opposite gender. Although transsexuals almost invariably report having these gender identity problems in childhood, most children who have these problems do not grow up to be transsexuals.
The transsexual tends to be asexual and may be so aversive to the genitals, for example, that there is a reluctance to touch them to masturbate. Attempted self-mutilation is not uncommon. One of the most common myths about transsexualism is that transsexuals are homosexual. Although transsexuals are usually attracted sexually to members of the same biological gender, they perceive themselves as heterosexual as they are themselves in the wrong body. 81, 82
Transsexuals may suffer from moderate to severe personality disturbance due to the stress caused by their inability to live in the role of the desired sex. They frequently report anxiety or depression, although some studies have found that they yield more "normal" personality test scores when replying as their desired sex versus their anatomical sex.83 Any associated personality or adjustment problems would be a security concern.
In extreme cases, transsexualism may result in a request for a sex-change operation, which is usually granted only after the person has spent at least one year living as a member of the preferred sex.84 In the United States, several thousand people undergo surgery each year to change (insofar as possible) their external genitalia to that of the opposite sex. As the technology involved in sex reassignment surgery evolves and as sex reassignment becomes more publicized, doctors and psychologists expect this number to increase. 86
Prevalence of transsexualism is traditionally estimated to be one per 30,000 for males and one per 100,000 for females.85 More recent studies, however, suggest that the rate of transsexualism in the United States is actually much higher. A 2002 investigative report states that the prevalence of transsexualism is as high as one for every 2,500 males between the ages of 18 and 60 years. This estimate is based on male to female sex reassignment surgeries on U.S. residents since the 1960s. Since then, 30,000 to 40,000 surgeries have been conducted. Using a low estimate of 32,000 surgeries, at least one in every 2,500 males in the United States is transsexual. Because many or most transsexuals are either unaware of or cannot afford such surgical treatments, the actual number of transsexual males may be three to five times that number. 86
One might expect the U.S. military would be a very unlikely place to find transsexuals. Actually, there are circumstances when young transsexuals are attracted to military service as a means of demonstrating their masculinity. For further information, see below.
Young male transsexuals in the throes of adjusting to their situation appear to go through a hypermasculine phase. They try to purge the feminine side of their personality and prove their masculinity both to themselves and others. Transsexuals pass through this hypermasculine stage during late adolescence and early adult years, which coincides with the time when men consider military service.
An Air Force psychiatrist assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base reported evaluating 11 male transsexuals during his three-year tour. Eight were current or former active duty military personnel, while three were civilians. Of the eight who had had extensive military service, seven had joined the service voluntarily at a time when no draft existed or other options were readily available. All were requesting either female hormones or sex change surgery. 87
Typical quotes from taped interviews with military transsexuals include: "I tried to do things to make me feel more masculine, like joining the Navy and getting married." "I thought it would make a man out of me." "I joined the Navy hoping maybe the problem would go away." "I joined the Air Force as a cover. In uniform, my masculinity would not be questioned."
A civilian doctor advised one young man who had come to him for treatment of feminine feelings to "join the Army, go to boot camp, and learn how to run over trees with a tank." These military transsexuals tend to seek out the more macho military specialties. One who had been assigned as a lab technician volunteered for combat helicopter training during the peak of the Vietnam war; his hobbies were mountain climbing and race car driving. Another became a Green Beret.
These are natural choices for the young transsexual in the hypermasculine phase making a last ditch effort to adjust to what society expects from a male. This effort eventually fails in many cases, however, and transsexual urges return, although transsexuals have had successful military careers of 20 years or more. 88
Transvestism is cross-dressing. The transvestite is almost always a male, and usually a heterosexual male, who has an obsession for wearing women's clothes, usually as a means of reducing psychic stress or tension. To the extent that sexual arousal is a principal motive for wearing female garments, this is a type of fetish and is mentioned under fetishism; it is sometimes called transvestic fetishism. Cross-dressing by homosexuals is the exception rather than the rule. 89
Transvestism takes a number of forms. It may involve occasional cross-dressing while alone in private, usually accompanied by masturbation; relaxing in women's attire while at home in the evening with a spouse; cross-dressing as an erotic turn-on during intercourse with a partner; wearing on a daily basis a single item of women's attire such as underwear or stockings under one's masculine clothes; dressing up in full women's regalia with wig and makeup for the excitement of venturing out in public alone as a woman; or participating in the subculture of transvestite support groups or transvestite bars.
The transvestite should be distinguished from the drag queen and the female impersonator. A drag queen is a male homosexual who dresses as a woman, often for the purpose of sexually stimulating other males. The female impersonator is an entertainer. He, too, may also be a transvestite, although in many cases he is not. The drag queen and female impersonator may have no psychological dependence on wearing feminine clothing as a form of tension release, nor do they necessarily gain sexual stimulation from the clothing.
The transvestite should also be differentiated from the male transsexual who seeks to change his gender identity. As discussed under transsexualism, the transsexual male feels like a woman trapped in a man's body, wishes to live as a woman, and experiences an insistent urge to change his anatomical sex. Although some cross-dressers evolve into transsexuals as young adults or in early middle age, most are quite happy with their gender and feel no urge to change it. 90 There is also an intermediate condition called gynemimesis in males and andromimesis in females, where the person dresses and lives continuously as a person of the opposite sex but does not wish for any change in the anatomy.
Gynemimesis might be more common in the United States if there were not such strong societal constraints against its expression. Males who live as women are accepted and have well-defined and in some cases highly respected roles in a variety of cultures, including India, Burma, Oman, Polynesia, and among North American Indian tribes. In one small town in Oman where they were studied, the xanith, as they are known there, comprised 2% of the 3,000 adult males. 58
Many transvestites (about 60%) are married and masculine in appearance.90 Most assume a female name and personality while they are cross-dressed. Cross-dressing often starts in childhood or early adolescence. The causes are not known, but some prenatal biological influence may be involved as well as later experiences during early childhood.
Cross-dressers are not dangerous. That is, they generally are not child molesters, voyeurs, exhibitionists or rapists. The practice does not generally interfere with work performance. If cross-dressers have difficulties with the law, it is generally because of society's inability to accept persons who do not behave in the "normal" way.91 One of the most complete books on transvestism written by one of the field's principal scholars argues that gender impersonation (including cross-dressing) should not be classified as a mental illness or a pathology unless it becomes a compulsive behavior. Under those circumstances, it should be considered the same as any other compulsive behavior. 89
Owing to lack of public acceptance, cross-dressers normally conceal their feelings and their secret life, and this creates a potential for extortion in exchange for keeping their secret. A study by Docter & Prince found that only 14% of cross-dressers frequently went out in public in female attire. Many cross-dressers report trying to "purge" their feminine attire at some point in their lives due to intense feelings of guilt and shame about their behavior.90 On the other hand, secret cross-dressing tends to be a solitary activity. Unlike homosexuality or adultery, it does not require a partner, so the risk of discovery and blackmail may be considerably less.
Transvestism is similar to homosexuality in that it is not illegal, and there is no empirical evidence that transvestites are, by nature, less trustworthy or loyal than other persons. Cross-dressing, by itself, does not necessarily indicate poor judgment, unreliability, irresponsibility or emotional instability, although these disqualifying characteristics will be present in some cases. For additional information, see Research on Transvestism.
There is evidence that many cross-dressers lead successful lives with a high degree of personal and professional achievement. Each individual should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Appropriate medical authorities should determine whether there are other associated emotional problems or evidence of a progression toward other sexual disorders such as fetishism or transsexualism.
The adjudicative criteria that may apply to some cases of transvestism are the public nature of the behavior and susceptibility to blackmail or coercion. Going out in public dressed as a woman may indicate lack of discretion and would be an aggravating circumstance that may justify disqualification. Concealment of current cross-dressing behavior may indicate susceptibility to pressure. Admission of cross-dressing during a security interview may eliminate some of this susceptibility but is discouraged by the sanctions associated with current personnel security policies.
The Society for the Second Self is a support and social organization for heterosexual cross-dressers. In 2003 the group reported over 30 organized chapters nationwide. Other similar organizations also exist. The "second self" is the woman that the society believes "is buried within every man." The group's purpose is to create a safe environment for the heterosexual male membership "to express without fear, to speak without shame, and to act out without guilt the femininity that is within them." Members generally limit their cross-dressing to the privacy of their homes or cover of night and socialize "en femme" only at chapter meetings with their close confidants. 92
R. Docter and V. Prince, one of the founders of the Society for the Second Self, conducted a survey of transvestites in the late 1990s. They received survey responses from 1,032 self-defined cross-dressers who attended transvestite club meetings or subscribed to club newsletters and magazines.
The findings reported here are from the Docter & Prince survey. In response to a question about how they see themselves, 17% said they felt like a woman trapped in a male body; in other words, they may be transsexuals rather than transvestites. Another 9% reported they were a man with just a sexual fetish for feminine attire, which suggests they should be classified as transvestic fetishists. The classical transvestite response, that they feel themselves to be a man who has a feminine side seeking expression, was given by 74%. Only 29% reported ever having any homosexual experience, which is less than the number reported by some other studies for the male population as a whole. 90
Most (60%) respondents were currently married, with another 23% being either separated, divorced, or widowed. About three-quarters of the married members described their wives as either cooperative or understanding, while 17% of the wives were completely unaware of their husbands' interests. Most (65%) were well educated with a degree beyond a bachelor's degree. This figure reflects the fact that people who join any type of support group tend to be well educated.
A separate study of 51 members of the Society for the Second Self found that many were high achievers, driven to seek personal success in order to gain a sense of self-worth and positive recognition. Many sought out particularly masculine occupations as a means of compensation, that is, to prove their masculinity both to themselves and to others despite their enjoyment of feminine things. 93
41. Reinisch, J.M. (1990). The Kinsey Institute new report on sex (p. 149). New York: St. Martin's Press. Although results of this study are cited by Reinisch, no citation for the actual study is given.
42. Jenks, R.J. (1998). Swinging: a review of the literature. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 27(5), 507-521.
43. Rubin, R.H. (2001). Alternative lifestyles revisited, or whatever happened to swingers, group marriages, and communes? Journal of Family Issues, 22(6), 711-127.
44. Guthrie, J. (2003, July 9). Partner swapping comes out of closet as today's partner swapping is more upscale, perhaps more accepted. Retrieved January 13, 2004, from http://www.nasca.com/states/nasca_faq.html#recent
45. Jenks, R. (2001). To swing or not to swing! (Review of the book The Lifestyle: A Look at the Erotic Rites of Swingers). Journal of Sex Research, 38(2), 171-174.
46. Murstein, B.I. (1978). Swinging, or comarital sex. In B.I. Murstein (Ed.). Exploring intimate life styles. New York: Springer Publishing.
47. Smith, J., & Smith L. (1970). Co-marital sex and the sexual freedom movement. Journal of Sex Research, 6, 131-142.
48. Gilmartin, B.G. (1978). The Gilmartin report. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press.
49. Sawyer, S., Metz, M.E., Hinds, J.D., & Brucker, R.A. (2001/2002). Attitudes towards prostitution among males: A “consumer’s report.” Current Psychology: Developmental, Learning, Personality, Social, 20(4), 363-376.
Surratt, H.L., & Inciardi, J.A. (2002). The
epidemiology of HIV, HBV, and HCV infection among drug-involved female sex
workers in Miami, Florida. Paper presented at the XIV International AIDS
Conference. Abstract retrieved June 29, 2006, from
52. Brecher, E.M. (1984). Love, sex & aging (p. 398). Boston: Little, Brown.
53. Money, J., & Wiedeking, C. (1980). Sexual disorders and their treatment. In B. Wolman & J. Money (Eds.). Handbook of human sexuality. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
54. Ellis, L., & Ames, M.A. (1987). Neurohormonal functioning and sexual orientation: A theory of homosexuality-heterosexuality. Psychological Bulletin, 101(2), 233-258. Ellis and Ames on page 242 cite 10 references to animal experiments.
55. Masters, W., Johnson, V., & Kolodny, R. (1985). Human sexuality (2nd ed., p. 435). Boston: Little, Brown.
56. Money, J. (1988). Gay, straight, and in-between: The sexology of erotic orientation. New York: Oxford University Press.
57. Drescher, J. (1998). Psychoanalytic therapy and the gay man. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. (As cited in Keener, C.S. & Swartzendruber, D.E. (2002). Does homosexuality have a biological basis? In Welcome to dialogue: Biological and psychological views. Retrieved Dec. 3, 2003, from http://www.welcomecommittee.org/booklet-5-keener.html. No longer available on the Internet.
58. Sarbin, T.R. (1991). Homosexuality and personnel security. Monterey, CA: Defense Personnel Security Research and Education Center. For an academic review of scientific research as it relates to personnel policies, see Herek, G.M. (1991). Myths about sexual orientation: A lawyer's guide to social science research. Law and Sexuality, 1.
59. Kanouse, D.E., Berry, S.H., Duan, N., Richwald, G., & Yano, E.M. (1992). Markers for HIV-1, hepatitis B, and syphilis in a probability sample of female street prostitutes in Los Angeles County (Report#PoC 4192) presented at the VII International Conference on AIDS/III STD World Congress, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, July 19-24, 1992.
61. Gonsoriek, J.C. (1982). Results of psychological testing on homosexual populations. American Behavioral Scientist, 25, 385-396.
62. Siegleman, M. (1987). Kinsey and others: Empirical input. In L. Diamant (Ed.). Male and female homosexuals: Psychological approaches. New York: Hemisphere.
63. American Psychological Association. (1975). Minutes of the Council of Representatives. American Psychologist, 30.
64. Norton v. Macy. 417 F.2d 1161 (D.C. Cir 1969) and Singer v. U.S. Civil Service Commission, 530 F.2d 247 (9th Cir. 1975).
65. Baumrind, D. (1995). Commentary on sexual orientation: Research and social policy implications. Developmental Psychology, 31(1), 130-136.
DiversityWeb. (n.d.). Campus life for gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Diversity Digest: Research,
7(1-2). Retrieved December 3, 2003, from
Helmstetter, C., & Langolf, K. (1996). 1996
campus climate survey on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender concerns.
Retrieved December 3, 2003, from University of Oregon: Oregon Survey Research
Laboratory web site. Now only available at
68. Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network 2003 National School Climate Survey Results. (n.d.). Retrieved December 3, 2003, from http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/news/record/1413.html
69. Ernulf, K. (1989). Biological explanation ... tolerance of homosexuals. Psychological Reports, 65, 1003-1010. Also Schneider, W. & Lewis, I.A. (1984). The straight story on homosexuality and gay rights. Public Opinion, 7, 16-20, 59-60.
70. Bell, A.P., & Weinberg, M.S. (1978). Homosexualities: A study of diversity among men and women. New York: Simon & Schuster.
71. Federal Emergency Management Agency. (1992, November). Security practices review board: Final report and recommendations. See in particular Tab F, memorandum dated August 24, 1992, by Lorri L. Jean, Subject: Personal Secrets and Vulnerability to Undue Influence: What is the Appropriate Analysis of Homosexual Conduct Kept Private?
72. Greenberg, J, Bruess, C., & Conklin (2006) Exploring the dimensions of human sexuality (p. 58). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett
75. Harry, J. (1982). Derivative deviance. Criminology, 4, 645-564. Also see Gagnon, J., & Simon, W. (1973). Sexual conduct (p. 141). Chicago: Aldine, which reports that 12% of a homosexual sample had been blackmailed.
76. Morrow, G.D. (1989). Bisexuality: An exploratory review. Annals of Sex Research, 2, 283-306.
77. Blumstein, P.W., & Schwartz, P. (1976). Bisexual women. In J.P. Wiseman (Ed.). The social psychology of sex. New York: Harper & Row.
78. Blumstein, J.P., & Schwartz, P. (1976). Bisexuality in men. Urban Life, 5, 339-358.
79. Altschuler, K.Z. (1984). On the question of bisexuality. American Journal of Psychotherapy, XXXVIII, 484-493.
80. Little, J.R. (1989). Contemporary female bisexuality: A psychosocial phenomenon. Unpublished doctoral dissertation (as cited in Labrioloa, K. (n.d.). What is bisexuality? Who is bisexual? Retrieved June 29, 2006, from http://www.cat-and-dragon.com/stef/Poly/Labriola/bisexual.html
82. Satterfield, S.B. (1988). Transsexualism. Journal of Social Work and Human Sexuality, 7, 77-87. Peo, R.E. (1989). Understanding transgender behaviors. Unpublished monograph.
83. Cole, C.M., O’Boyle, M., Emory, L.E., & Meyer, W.J. (1997). Comorbidity of gender dysphoria and other major psychiatric diagnoses. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(1), 13-26.
Schafer, S. (2000, December 28). More
transsexuals start new life, keep old job. The
Retrieved December 3, 2003, from
85. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed., revised, p. 535), Washington, DC: Author.
87. Brown, G.R. (1988). Transsexuals in the military: Flight into hypermasculinity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 17, 527-537.
88. Brown, G.R. (1988). Transsexuals in the military: Flight into hypermasculinity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 17, 527-537. Also letter from the author to R. J. Heuer, PERSEREC, dated January 2, 1991.
89. Bullough, V., Bullough, B., & Smith, R. (1983). A comparative study of male transvestites, male to female transsexuals, and male homosexuals. The Journal of Sex Research, 19, 238-257. Also see Bullough, B., & Bullough, V. (1997). Are transvestites necessarily heterosexual? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(1), 1-12.
90. Docter, R.F., & Prince, V. (1997). Transvestism: A survey of 1032 cross-dressers. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26(6), 589-605.
91. Peo, R.E. (1989). Understanding transgender behaviors. Unpublished monograph.
92. Brochure entitled Society for the Second Self: What is it? Whom is it for? What are its goals? and other materials provided by Society for the Second Self to R.J. Heuer, PERSEREC, in December 1991.
93. Goodwin, L.J., & Peterson, R. G. (1990, Winter). Psychological impact of abuse as it relates to transvestism. Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 21(4).