Gender identity is described as the differentiation of a living individual based on their gender. When the topic is in context to a human being, then there are three broad categories of gender differentiation. The first is a male, the second is a female and the third is the transsexual gender. This research paper has been formulated to identify the core meaning of gender identity. An attempt has also been made to the interaction between hormones and behavior and its effects on gender identities. There has also been an attempt to describe the role of biological psychology and environmental influences on sexual differentiation and gender identity.
What Is Gender Identity?
Gender identity is defined as the gender of a person. It is a core identifier that helps in the self-identification of a human being. Contrary to the popular belief, gender identity is not necessarily based on biological facts, nor is it dependent on sexual orientation. Gender identity can be classified into three broad groups, namely the male, the female, or a group that is somewhere in between and is neither a male nor completely a female. Another name for sex reassignment surgery, gender identity is also a psychological term that helps define the core gender identity of a living individual. According to Hagan 1992, leading health researchers to think that gender identity is directly dependent on prenatal hormonal, social as well as hormonal determinants. The sway of testosterone and genetic material conventions in the brain cells are measured to be the genetic determinants of sexual characteristics and sex identity.
Gender identity is a complicated process that starts with the influx of conceptual thought. The thought refers to the growth process which occurs during the gestation period and it is also dealt with learning experiences that often happen after the birth of a child. Each individual is divided into three categories, which we have already discussed above. The multiple gender identities arise when an individual is a female but her gentiles are male and this phenomenon is termed gender dysphoria. In this state, the concerned individual is under a state of deep unhappiness as she is a female but is unable to express her feminine side due to the presence of male genitals in her body. Some researchers think that the gender identities of transsexuals are fixed when they are in their early childhood. A majority of such gender identities are formed when the child is in the age group of two to three years. Interestingly, with the advancement in medical science, the gender identity of an individual can be changed through the means of a surgical procedure. Hormonal replacement therapy and sex reassignment therapy is a perfect example of this phenomenon.
Hormonal and Behavioral Influences in Gender Identity
Money and Musaph 1978 mentioned that there are three models of action based on hormonal influence in gender recognition. These models have been devised by Melissa Hines in the year 2002. The first model is the Classical Model of hormonal influences. According to this model, the presence of testicular hormones is the basic deciding factor of the male gender, whereas the absence of testicular hormones indicates that the child is a female. The second model is known as the Gradient Model. It describes the slow effect of hormones on an individual’s behavior. Normal variations in hormones cause normal behavior changes while rapid variations in hormones cause rapid changes in the human behavior patterns.
The third model is termed the Model of Active Feminization. This theory demonstrates that ovarian hormones should be taken into account to some extent to determine the female sexual demarcation. Ovarian hormones are known to cause fewer amounts of variations on the human brain, although their effect is stated to be permanent. The Classic Model can be depicted in the shape of a syndrome expressed as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. This grounds the excessive production of the male hormones in both males and also in females. The deficiency of CYP21 creates such a situation. This is owing to the early influences of testosterone in their bodies. Interestingly, most of the females in this category have female gender characteristics.
Neurobiology and Environmental Influences
The relationship between gender identity and the brain is still unknown. Although there have been several research studies that have been conducted in this regard, very little apart from the presence of influence behavior is known. Biologists believe that power motivation is directly proportional to the estrogen levels of a human being. This is more prevalent in the female gender. On the other hand, behaviors such as aggression and libido are symbolic of the presence of testosterone levels in an individual. This is seen as more common in males. Researches on rodents have shown that parental hormonal influence has a major role to play in the identification of gender identity (Neave, 2008).
Sex is also considered to be an influencing factor in the identification of gender identity and both females as well as males have been known to possess different levels of sex hormones. The sexually dimorphic nucleus of a male is considered to be seven times higher than that found in the female gender. At the same time, the Interstitial Nucleus of the Anterior Hypothalamus is considered to be thrice as big in males when compared to the female gender. Gender identity is also stated to be under the influence of numerous environmental factors (Brick & Worthman,2008). Some of these environmental factors include parental upbringing, peer relationships, a traumatic experience, personal relationships, and the influence of friends and relatives. If an individual is deprived of adequate parental support, regardless of his/her gender, the individual tends to develop abnormal behavioral tendencies, which easily differentiate the individual from an ordinary normal person. It has been noticed that people who stay in large cities are very different, in terms f their behavior and way of life, when compared to people who stay in small towns.
Brick, C., & Worthman, C. (2008). Hormones, health, and behaviour: A socio-ecological and lifespan perspective. America: Cambridge University Press
Hagan, P.(1992). Interactions between hormones of the axis and regulators of the immune system. Canada: National Institute for Biological Standards and Control.
Money, J.,& Musaph, H. (1978). Handbook of sexology: Genetics, hormones and behaviour. New York: Elsevier Science Ltd
Neave, N. (2008). Hormones and behaviour: A psychological approach. America: Cambridge University Press.