Gender identity paper


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Gender identity paper

  1. 1. Gender Identity 1 Gender Identity Paper Adreena Lind February 3, 2013 Biology of Psychology 340 Rebecca Wilson
  2. 2. Gender Identity 2 People identify with a personal idea based on internal and external factors and a person generally has a key sense of this identity from early childhood. Sexual orientation and heredity; some theories assume that these topic go hand in hand. When discussing the theories behind gender norms, it is first important to realize that gender norms and gender identity are completely separate concepts. The gender norms theory are “what make up a sex role, which recognizes that there are a set of expectations about how someone labeled a man or someone labeled a woman should behave” (Ryle, p.119). Gender norms are sets of rules that define what is fitting for masculine and feminine behavior in a societal-cultural perspective. This creates the approach that the idea of being a woman or a man becomes an adopted part of the style that a person reflects on self-concerning gender identity. Puberty was once thought to be the open door to sexual orientation and attraction, but in recent studies it seems that puberty actually occurs after the first signs of sexual excitement are observed. Perhaps there is truth to the theory that a women’s immune system could deactivate masculine hormones over the course of several pregnancies, which might explain the fraternal birth order theory. The fraternal birth order theory identifies a connection between homosexuality in men and those men having multiple older male siblings (Pinel, p. 351). Neither one of these theories proves to be conclusive and also do not explain homosexuality in women. Human understanding of gender and identity is simply the initial process of learning the ways of a society in infancy and childhood. This understanding is generally transmitted through the primary caregivers, such as parents, guardians, and families to which we belong. Human sexuality and gender identityis a complex and multifaceted concept. Western society attempts to connect sexual identity to a specific gender, but in truth, many people blur the line of what is “male” and what is “female.”This is hardly the case and in fact most people that
  3. 3. Gender Identity 3 are unable to identify with this male-female specific gender norm tend to feel lost or incomplete. Sexuality is nowhere near as simple as either male or femaleor man or women;gender and identity take on personal characteristics, therefore areimpossible to designate an individual as completely masculine or completely feminine. People are not one or the other, but rather are different combinations of the male-female equations. No person is exactly the same and while some may see this as confusing, complex, or perplexing. According to Connell’s theory, “there is no one male role, as might be assumed in sex-role theory,” but rather there are a variety of masculinities that act togetherin organized-competitive ways(Connell, 2009). Men enact different versions of this masculinity depending on where they are located in social hierarchies of power. Heredity and genes play a role in the sexual identify and orientation of a person, but they are not likely the defining factors. I believe they share the spot light with the “nurture” aspect of childhood development. This would explain why generally most siblings have different sexual preferences. In addition, studies of dizygotic orfraternal twins were shown to have one twinto be same-sex oriented, while the other was not. Identical or Monozygotic twins showed more signs of relatively similar sexual orientations, (Pinel, 2009.) In the matter of rodent laboratory test the trick seemed to be getting the “perfect” amount of serotonin for the wanted result; it is possible that sexual orientation may be the result of chemicals in the brain tempting to have some kind of equilibrium. Furthermore studies on mice show chemical injections of serotonin increased the number of homosexuality in the rodents. Whether homosexual or heterosexual the hormone levels in the brain are relatively unchanged. Heredity and genes play a role in the sexual identify and orientation of a person, but they are not likely the defining factors. I believe they share the spot light with the “nurture” aspect of childhood development. This would explain why generally most siblings have different sexual
  4. 4. Gender Identity 4 preferences. In addition, there studies of dizygotic twins where more often there is one sibling that is same-sex oriented, while the other is not. Monozygotic twins tend to show more signs of relatively similar sexual orientations, (Pinel, p. 350).There is no difference in the brains of a lesbian bisexual, transsexual or any other sexual oriented group of people. According to Nevid, Rathus, and Rathus (2005) “Gender identity is usually but not always with the individual’s anatomic sex,” p. 175. The hormone levels in human beings are generally the same as far as sexual orientation and gender identity. In humans it has been proven that increased levels of estrogen are an important factor to lesbianism; this is also the case when it comes to increased levels of serotonin in regards to male homosexuality (Pinel, p. 350). This further indicates that both gender and sexual identity are not chosen by choice, but are in fact developed from birth. Gender identity and sexuality can be seen as a biological trait rather than something that is developed over the years; while environment does play a role it seems that these aspects of self cannot be changed. Men and women develop individual sexual and gender identities from personal experiences and genetic influences (Pinel, 2009). Mentallypeople are equipped with a set of blue printsas towhom we are from birth and throughout experiences grow into a complex individualized sexual identity, but the basic foundation of whichare still ingrained within “us”. Human beings are, indeed, male and female, but in different configurations. In general most people develop wave of femininity and masculinity, whether male or female. There is not just male and female; there are several different degrees to the male-female ratio in each person. It calls to mind images of mothers and fathers developing careful plans for the behaviors that will be rewarded and punished in their sons and daughters. In reality, few parents ever sit down and make these kinds of intentional decisions.Social learning theorists subsequently added to their original formulation and said that conscious intent on the part of agents of socialization
  5. 5. Gender Identity 5 was not necessary to the process.Some theorist argue that that children are generally more likely to model themselves based on the behaviors of individuals of the same gender (male-female). Essentially, this observational developmentdrives the child to reproduction the entire patterns of behavior without necessarily being trained or rewarded for doing so.Thisis where the parental figure takes an active role in shaping the manner that the child thinks about and understands gender(Rathus, Nevid, and Fichner-Rathus, 2005). The brain, like the genital organs, undergoes prenatal sexual differentiation. Testosterone causes cells in the hypothalamus of male fetuses to become insensitive to the female sex hormone estrogen. In the absence of testosterone, as in female fetuses, the hypothalamus does develop sensitivity to estrogen. Sensitivity to estrogen is important in the regulation of the menstrual cycle after puberty. The hypothalamus detects low levels of estrogen in the blood at the end of each cycle and initiates a new cycle by stimulating the pituitary gland to secrete FSH. FSH, in turn, stimulates estrogen production by the ovaries and the ripening of an immature follicle in an ovary. The concept of gender identity is basically an individualattitude to gender, focusing on how gender functions from the intimate self and is reflected to the outside world.Therefore I would have to conclude that while nurture does impact one’s perception of gender and sexual identity. The foundation of personality factors as well as sexual identity is defined long before childhood. This explains why a very young child often displays gender specific roles during play (i.e. how the child plays, who and what the child plays seeks out). There is an obvious connect from perinatal development into childhood and so on to adulthood.Furthermore when looking to understand why children often seek to be engaged by other children with similar genderidentities; little girls prefer to play with other little girl while little boys often prefer to
  6. 6. Gender Identity 6 play with other little boys.After all, love may also be a chemical reaction from endorphins, so there may be a connection between sexual orientation and serotonin in human males (Pinel, p. 350), and then we have to think how science would explain bisexuality. References:
  7. 7. Gender Identity 7 Connell, R. (2010, October 11). Professor Raewyn Connell. Retrieved from YouTube website: Pinel, JJ (2009) Biopsychology; Eighth Edition, Allyn& Bacon. Rathus, S. A., Nevid, J. S., &Fichner-Rathus, L. (2005 ). Human Sexuality in a World of Diversity (6th ed.). New York, New York: Pearson Education. Ryle, R. (2011). Questioning Gender: A Sociological Exploration . Hanover, Indiana: SAGE Publications.
  8. 8. Gender Identity 8