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Gender Identity Essay

1364 words - 6 pages

Gender Identity
When the word gender is brought up, the first thought that comes to mind is weither the person is male or female. This is not necessarily correct. The term sex is a biological term that refers to the physical differences between males and females. If sex is the term that encompasses male or female, then what exactly is gender?
Gender is a psychological term that refers to the awareness and reaction to the biological term of sex. It also is a term that can construe more than one meaning. Gender is determined by biological, psychological, and sociological factors. Gender consists of three elements: gender role, gender identity, and sexual orientation or preference (Kenyon, ...view middle of the document...

In addition, there is evidence that hormones have an effect, and plays an important role in determining someones gender. Hormones influence gender in two ways. One by influencing the development from conception to sexual maturity of the anatomical, physiological, and behavioral characteristics that distinguish one as a female or a male. And two by activating the reproduction-related behavior of sexually mature adults (Pinel, 2009). Hormones carry messages from glands to cells to ensure maintenance of chemical levels in the blood system that achieve homeostasis. The presence of hormones acts as catalysts for the chemical changes necessary for growth, energy, and development at the cellular level. There are two main types of hormones: steroids and peptide. Steroids are the general hormones related to sexual maturation, and fertility of an individual. They are made from cholesterol by placentas in the womb or by the adrenal gland or gonads that are testes or ovaries.
Nature vs. Nurture is an argument between those who believe that human behavior and individual’s development processes are caused by inherited genes (nature) or the environmental influences (nurture). The nature side of the debate argues that our behavior and development are genetically inherited and therefore it cannot be altered, whereas the nurture side of the debate argues that the environment in which we grow and socialize shape our human characteristics. Either way, there is no clear conclusion to this debate; however, in my opinion both nature and nurture are very important in the individual’s developmental processes. Many psychologists believe that gender is the result of environmental influences, particularly the way we are treated by our parents, guardians, friends, and relatives. According to Dr John Money we are psychosexually neutral at birth, and our gender is a consequence of the nurture we receive as children (Kenyon, 1994-2006). A less popular view is that gender is the result of nature, particularly the effects of hormones on the developing brain (Kenyon, 1994-2006).
In 1972, John William Money and Anke Ehrhardt reported the case of a seven month old baby boy, one of a pair of twins, born in 1963 whose penis was removed after an operation for circumcision damaged the newborn's penis. At 22 months old the child was surgically reassigned as a girl and brought up according to the prevailing view at the time that we are psychosexually neutral at birth (Kenyon, 1994-2006). This case entered the textbooks and informed medical opinion for several decades because Money reported that the child had adapted well as a girl. However, long-term follow up of this case by Milton Diamond paints a very different picture of the success of this application of the nature theory of psychosexual differentiation. Despite being raised as a girl, Joan never felt happy. At 12 years old, she was given estrogen therapy to complete the conversion to a woman. She grew breasts, but was never...

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