What is gender identity Gender identity is a person’s concept of him or herself whether male or female, this can be either the same as their biological gender or it could be different (Schwartz, 2008). Most of the people out there are satisfied at being the gender they were born, though some may feel that they should be the opposite sex. Nature The debate between nature versus nurture concerning gender differences has gone on for many years.
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It is believed that women who believe in a social gender theory would tend to be more likely to not accept gender stereotypical characteristics including negative feminine traits than women who believed in a biological gender theory (Coleman, Hong, Jan-Mar 2008). “Biological, and certain physical conditions (chromosomes, external and internal genitalia, hormonal states and secondary sex characteristics), lead to the determination of male or female sex. ” (Ohle, 2006. Para. 3).
There are researchers that believe having an excess of one hormone is the cause of homosexuality though there have been no data to prove this as true or false (Schwartz, 2008). A person’s gender role is often created in a society by factors such as observed behaviors and appearances. Different environmental factors can cause sexual differentiation or gender identity disorders (Ghosh, 2009). Nurture A person’s gender as opposed to their sex is mainly a social construction and their own thoughts and feelings about their gender have a large impact on the development of their own identity.
Women are the bearers of our children and as such it is tradition which gives them the title of mother. This title has an influence on the type of work women do, including their role in society (Ohle, 2006). This leads to the belief that sex is associated with biology and a man or women’s gender identity in any society is determined socially and psychologically which includes historically and culturally (Ohle, 2006). In the determination of gender identity, social and cultural perceptions of what is considered masculine and feminine traits along with roles have to be considered.
It is believed that gender is a learned process through socialization and by the culture of the society involved (Ohle, 2006). Most cultures encourage boys to participate in acts associated with conceived male traits such as playing with guns and physical games such as football and baseball, while girls are encouraged to play with dolls and have tea parties while playing dress-up. This encouragement carries over into the type of discipline handed out to each gender and what types of careers they can aspire to. Most of this influence can be found in how men and women are portrayed in the media (Ohle, 2006).
It is known, however, that during the gestation period, the brain of a fetus starts to produce testosterone on developing nerve cells which then become either male or female in the absence of hormones (Swaab & Garcia-Falgueras, 2009). The fetus will become a male if testosterone is produced and female if it is not. Every fetus begins life as a female because of the X chromosome coming from the mother; this is the only chromosome active for the first few weeks of gestation. At the eighth week the fetus takes a chromosome from the father who can be either an X or a Y (Wickens, 2005).
If the fetus takes an X chromosome it will stay a female, but if it takes a Y chromosome it begins making testosterone and other male hormones and will begin to develop as a male. These different hormones work in the brain to create the male sex organs and genitalia (Wickens, 2005). In some situations during gestation a fetus’s brain produces male hormones but the fetus still becomes a female. Other times the fetus does not produce enough testosterone for the fetus to become completely male. This is known as hermaphroditism (Ghosh, 2009). Society today calls this intersex.
The greater influence Gender identity can take place as early as during gestation; an ultrasound can allow the gender of a fetus to be determined. This usually takes place during the second semester of gestation. Parents tend to use this information as a means of tailoring their parental planning, including gender-specific names, types of clothing and gender based toys (Ghosh, 2009). A parent’s aspirations pertaining to the infant can change due to the anticipated gender. They develop preformed ideas of the infant’s wants and needs prior to its birth (Ghosh, 2009).
Examples of this are; if the ultrasound shows a girl, the parents may want her to become a nurse, but if it were a boy they may plan on him being a baseball player. After the child is born and doctors assign it a specific gender, the parents begin to raise the infant as either a boy or girl based on the gender of the child. This is known as the core gender identity (Dreger, 2009). Research has discovered that core gender identity takes place by age two or three, in some cases the child may be as old as five before the core gender identity is complete.
It is believed that the parents create the infant’s gender role. The decisions parents make are the largest contributing factor in determining environmental influences (Dreger, 2009). The same research has proven that behavioral changes happen when parents of either sex interact with different genders (Dreger, 2009). Some examples of this are that girls are cuddled more often, and boys are encouraged to play more assertively. Sooner or later the concept of his or her gender develops (Ghosh, 2009). Parents can often become overly worried about certain behaviors, but this tends to only confuse the child even more.