James W. Hicks, M.D.


In Sexual Types on December 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm

This is the last of a dozen posts about each of my proposed sexual types. The transitioning category captures men and women who are in transit from one sexual identity to another. It is not really a sexual type but a stage between types. “Transitioning” is also the term used by transgendered individuals (see metamorphic) who have begun the process of transforming their gender and living as a different sex from the one into which they were born. I use the term more generally.

At one extreme, you may be married and have always considered yourself straight, but you have begun to realize that you are also attracted to, and perhaps prefer, members of the same sex. You may identify yourself as “really” gay or lesbian, rather than bisexual, perhaps because only that would justify coming out of the closet and making a major change in lifestyle. On the other hand, as you complete your transition from one identity to another, you may preserve a sense of sexual flexibility, and this seems to be the more common pattern among women.

You may also transition in the other direction. Your earliest romantic experience may have been with someone of the same gender, but you have come to realize that you are also attracted to the opposite sex. Since heterosexual relationships are more socially acceptable, you may decide that you went through a phase and are “really straight.” A woman in this situation may jokingly refer to herself as a “has-bian.” The term “ex-gay” is also used, though generally only by those who have sought church-based therapy that is hostile to homosexual expression.

In some macho or tribal societies, a man’s sexual identity and role may change in young adulthood when he grows a beard and gets married, at which point he switches from being homosexually receptive to become a bisexual “top.” In the West, the phrase, “today’s trade is tomorrow’s trick,” refers to another, perhaps apocryphal, sort of transition, when bisexual hustlers grow up to become homosexual customers (the implication being that they also switch from being tops to bottoms).

  1. Dear James,

    I find myself well within this category, having finally realised I’m Gay 5 years ago.

    Have been married to a wonderful wife for 15 years (who accepts and loves me regardless and after me coming out), there were many occasions I wanted to have sex with her and didn’t in the slightest even consider that I might be gay.

    Having been brought up very conservative, now looking in retrospect, there might have been some clues along the way. But they were neither obvious nor apparent to me for all of the first 28 years of my life.

    I took the test here (brilliant by the way) and “Transitioning” was the main answer.

    You can imagine that in my situation, Guilt and I have a lasting bonded relationship. I have often before (and now) wondered whether I was straight and became gay?

    Reading your article here on transitioning, do I understand correctly that your opinion is that it is quite possible I was straight and that my orientation changed to gay? If so, is it therefore possible to change it back? (Pray the Gay Away Christian torture camps aside!)

    Note I use ‘straight’ and ‘gay’ here as terms for easier communication, but clearly realise the spectrum inbetween.

    Looking forward to your response very much,


    • I think it depends on how genuine your straight attractions seem in retrospect. The vast majority of men and women who identify as gay have actually had sex with a member of the opposite sex. That doesn’t rule out being gay. I doubt you “switched” from one pole to the other; you probably are closer to the gay end of the spectrum but missed that element of your attraction because of your upbringing and expectations. Generally, I do not believe people can extinguish inclinations that have fed their fantasy life for years, but certainly people can expend the range of what they find attractive and may discover this opens up new preferences and stronger feelings than they would have expected.

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