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Gender Identity Essay

1666 words - 7 pages

Gender Identity is a learned quality. It does not have anything to do with nature (genetics) as much as nurturing. Males and females are separated by gender at birth. A person's sex determines how their gender will develop. Some circumstances may cause gender identity disorder .What makes a woman a woman and a man a man? Is it nature? A persons genetics, or is it nurture? The way a person is raised. The way a female and a male are raised from birth decides what gender the person will become. Gender identity is a learned behavior, which is reinforced through out one's entire lifetime. Gender identity is the sense of knowing which sex one belongs. That is the sense of one's masculinity or ...view middle of the document...

The awareness of physical difference is followed by awareness of the cultural differences between males and females and identification with the parent of the same sex, whose behavior the child begins to imitate.The most famous 20th-century theory about the acquisition of gender identity at this stage of life is the Oedipus complex formulated by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). Like its female counterpart, which Freud termed the Electra complex, the Oedipus complex revolves around a child's wish to possess the parent of the opposite sex, while simultaneously wishing to eliminate the parent of the same sex, who is perceived as a rival.The Oedipus complex has been widely criticized, especially by feminist critics who reject its assumption that "anatomy is destiny." One respected feminist theory is that of Nancy Chodorow, for whom the central factor in gender identity acquisition is the mother's role as primary caregiver, which leads to a greater sense of a relatedness in girls, who identify with the mother and go on to reproduce the same patterns of mothering in their own adult lives (Brazelton 1990). While boys, needing to identify with the parent of the opposite sex, acquire a defining sense of separateness and independence early in life. This "reproduction of mothering," being both biologically and sociologically determined, is at least theoretically open to the possibility of change if patterns of parenting can be altered.The formation of gender identity has been approached in different terms by Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987), who formulated the concept of gender consistency, the awareness that gender remains fixed throughout a person's lifetime. Kohlberg noted that while children are aware of their own gender and the gender of others by the age of three, they do not really begin assuming appropriate gender-based behavior until the age of about seven, when they first understand that gender is permanent: that they cannot change gender the way they can change their clothes or their behavior. Kohlberg believed that children do not start systematically imitating the behavior of members of their own sex until that point.After gender identity is formed, then gender stability develops. Gender stability is the realization that girls grow up to women and men grow up to be men. It is during this period of gender stability development that many children show stereotypical behaviors appropriate to their gender identity.While most children follow a predictable pattern in the acquisition of gender identity, some develop a gender identity inconsistent with their biological sex, a condition variously known as gender confusion, gender identity disorder, or transsexualism , which affects about 1 in 20,000 males and 1 in 50,000 females (Brazelton 1990). Researchers have found that both early socialization and hormonal factors may play a role in the development of gender identity disorder. Children with gender identity disorder usually feel from their earliest years that...

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