Gender identity can be defined as a perception of ourselves as male or female. Gender identity is closely linked to the concept of gender role, which is defined as the outward characteristics of personality that mirror the gender identity. A person’s sexual identity also reflects that of the anatomical or physiological boundaries. “A person’s gender is a conclusion reached in a broad sense when individual gender identity and gender role are expressed. ” (Shuvo Ghosh, 2006)
Initially, all human fetuses are female. Between seven and nine weeks of gestation, the appearance of a Y chromosome and the SRY gene product will determine if male development will occur. If these two factors are present, then the previously female fetus will change into a male one. Follicle-stimulating hormone will trigger development of the female reproductive organs. This hormone is present in both males and females, but is denied effectiveness by the production of testosterone in males.
A significant environmental role begins with assignment of sex at birth in gender development because the parents usually raise the child as one sex or the other, male or female. During the infancy stage, gender identity probably remains incomplete, much as it existed at birth. As the child grows, the parents exert the largest influence on gender role, and parents and society play the most influential part in determining environmental influences. Gender identity throughout the rest of childhood is usually reinforced by gender role. Both sexes are constantly reevaluating their place within gender-related issues.
As we progress through our daily lives, people subconsciously assess and redefine their identities and roles as females and males and are affected by subtle pressures to adhere to gender-stereotypical mores and behaviors that undervalue both sexes and have a negative effect on women, men, and society. Men and women who do not live up to the stereotypical behavior subscribed to by the majority of society are seen to be something of deviants within their gender. A woman who is assertive and outspoken may be seen as unfeminine or exhibiting masculine traits.
Conversely, a man exhibiting nurturing, tender behaviors is seen as less masculine. My anatomy is the first factor that helps me identify as female. I was born with XX chromosomes and all the anatomically correct and working parts that define me physiologically as female. My oral and linguistic tendencies manifested earlier than my male peers, also in line with female gender identity. Thirdly, and possibly most importantly, I have always believed I was the correct gender. I am very comfortable with being female and have never felt as though I should have been born something different.
I will admit to looking at the “other side” in frustration and thinking, “I wish I was a guy! They have it so easy! ” I found the more I read the more irritated I became at the insistence of labeling and pigeon-holing that appears to be so inherently human. I understand that we label in order to quantify or understand something or someone. We label to be able to relate it to something. I have resisted labels for many years and was reluctant to add any to myself for the last t of this paper. In my opinion, I combine attributes from the masculine and the feminine but dislike the androgynous title as well.
I can be aggressive, assertive, tactile, visual, stoic, rational, objective, independent, individualistic, demanding, competitive, and proud. I can also be nurturing, emotional, expressive, shy, submissive, deferential, modest, gentle, supportive, and soft spoken. Gender identity is a more complex topic than it generally appears. There are a multitude of variables that go into making us who we are; physiologically none that we can truly control. We cannot control the environmental affects that impact us either until we are older and become able to make decisions for ourselves.
It is my belief that although society has shifted somewhat in acceptance of a certain blurring of so called masculine and feminine traits, the psychological evolution negating the need for these labels will be a very slow one. References Merck. (2008, July 5). Retrieved July 5, 2008, from Merck. com. WebMD. (n. d. ). Retrieved July 5, 2008, from http://www. webmd. com/sex/gender-identity-disorder Shuvo Ghosh, M. (2006, July 10). Retrieved July 5, 2008, from emedicine: http://www. emedicine. com/PED/topic2789. htm
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