Humans are sexual beings, and part of our identity is gender. However, the main question is to what extent does our sexual orientation as biology dictates human gender. The query has exacerbated increased debate, especially with the emergence of trasnsgender individuals, whom the public has difficulty in identifying them as male or female. In addition, the available scientific evidence may in some instances be difficult to interpret, and rather than being evaluated from a fair dimension, is often deployed in supporting entrenched positions. According to Ford-Martin (2011), gender identity disorder is characterized by various symptoms, ranging from being disgusted by the genitals, wishing of the opposite gender, depression or anxiety of ones sex to feeling lonely even though the person has peer friends. Even so, various theories of this disorder are based on social, evolutionary, cognitive, and psychology that explain what determines gender identity for male and females, but attribution to nature or nurture as a gender determinant has remained controversial (Eagly and Wood, 2013). In essence, currently, sex in identity the society is ambiguous, but different factors attributed to research discoveries based on neuroscience, social learning, evolutionary psychology, as well as other biological factors have attributed gender identity closely to biological factors. For this reason, the question as to whether gender identity is a matter of nurture or nature is often a debated one. However, both nature and gender determine gender. In effect, nurture-nature debates have remained contentious in the psychology of gender identity, and researchers have integrated the two causal influences. Birth determines the gender of a person, but environmental interactions may influence a change of gender, to transsexual. For this reason, since most aspects of human development are initially driven by genetic makeup before birth, and after birth, environmental influences have a direct effect on human behavior, nature, and nurture both play a part in defining gender identity.
According to Swaab (2007), the brain is believed to develop in the male direction via a sure of testosterone into the nerve cells, but for the females, this surge is absent. In essence, this can be the basic view of gender identity. However, nature can be influential in determining gender even before birth. For instance, sexual differentiation in the brain happens in the second half of the pregnancy, but the sexual differentiation of the sexual organs usually occurs in the first to the second month of gestation, during which transsexuality can happen (van Rysewyk and van Rijsewijk, n.p). The researchers add that the masculinization of the brain during birth may not reflect that of the genitals. In addition, as the standard view of gender identity proposes, transsexualism is dependent on neuropsychological changes which occur in the intrauterine development of the brain and the genitals. For this reason, it is evident that nurturing can determine gender, by either giving birth to a female, male or transsexual. Importantly, a baby can be born as a female only to have a male mindset, and this may trigger the need of becoming a transgender.
Evolutionary psychology attributes the differences between sexuality and gender to the evolution of the various factors in men and women. The concept holds that reproductive success is attained via sustainable birth and success in passing genes from one generation to another. The theory sets the foundation for unions between men and women and the desire to have offspring Peterson and Hyde, 2013). For this reason, gender identity is a matter of nurturing, because as women and men are bound to develop a union to bear children. In addition, nature has a part to play in evolution psychology as the genes are determinant of whether the child born is transsexual, male, or female. As such, it can be derived that nurture and nature are determinants of gender identity.
Another theory through which the factors of gender identity are determined through a learned behavior is the cognitive social learning theory. The theory proposes that gender is attributed to various learning and social factors that influence an individuals gender roles, and it also predicts that people will explore and express their gender roles based on socially acceptable behavior or which the media supports (Peterson and Hyde, 2013). The theory predicts that media has a role to play in gender identity, and thus, it supports the idea that nurture is the determinant of gender. In essence, the media portrays various accounts of sexuality, promiscuity, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, transgender, and the number of sexual partners (Peterson and Hyde, 2013). In consequence, it creates a different attitude towards gender identity as it supports transgender and transsexual individuals, as well as gay and lesbian relationship. When the media covers stories where gays and lesbians have married, it fine tunes the individuals via social and cognitive learning, and in effect, people view these as normal behaviors. People experiment on what they have not done before, and in the process, it creates a gender identity crisis, which in effect can contribute to transgender, transsexual, or homosexual persons. For this reason, nurture via cognitive social learning theory can determine gender identity.
One of the aspects that cannot be ignored in the nurture-nature debate as a determinant of gender identity is genetic factors, which supports the idea that nature determines gender. In essence, genes play a vital role in how an individual physically looks, as well as determine whether the child is female, male, or transsexual. Even though most of the people have two sex chromosomes, boys being identified with XY and XX for girls (Dragowski, Rioo, and Sandigorsky, 2011). These are inherited from both parents; there can be certain abnormalities where children are born with three chromosomes, as in the case of children with downs syndrome, or one chromosome for those with Turners syndrome. If the abnormalities occur, the testicles and the ovaries cannot develop. According to Choi (2001), genes can tell an individual's future regarding physical appearance, as well as the various predispositions that are developed based on the genetic codes. Even so, as Choi (2001) points out, it is almost impossible to alter genes, and the correlation between gender roles and genes cannot be altered through nurture. For this reason, from genetic factors, it is clear that genes are determinants of gender identity, and this cannot be altered via nurture.
In addition, the issue of gender and homosexuality plays a major role in the nature-nurture debate as determinants of gender identity. There have been many cultural wars in the world as to what causes homosexuality, with Slife (2001) attributing to social learning theories and a neuroscience evidence that bringing up children in an environment where homosexuality is rampant may also contribute. Neuro scans have found evidence that homosexual minds are different from that of heterosexuals. According to Chernin and Holden (1995), the brain part associated with reproductive behavior and psychology, commonly referred to as the interstitial nuclear in the anterior hypothalamus is bigger for heterosexuals compared to homosexual males. For this reason, as per Chernin and Holden (1995) research, biology causes gender identity as opposed to social learning theories. In addition, through biology, this is attributed to transsexual identity in the development of the mind and the genitals, which can cause differences due to different fetal developments. As pointed out earlier, development of the brain happens in the second half of the pregnancy, but the sexual differentiation of the sexual organs usually happens in the first to the second month of pregnancy, which may cause the offspring to have a male mindset and female genitals or vice versa.
However, other studies have revealed otherwise, adopting a perspective encapsulated by the fact that gender is viewed as being dependent on nurture. The debate of homosexuality and gender is exacerbated by the fact that there are noteworthy findings that have supported the cause of homosexuality to be via social learning, as well as associating it to biological causes. For instance, as Swaab (2007) points out, hormones contribute to gender identity. Also, through social interaction and media influence, individuals can be influenced to become homosexuals. However, other studies have shown that homosexuality is not a learned behavior, where children raised by homosexuals do not necessarily become of similar ender identity. For instance, Patterson (2013) cited that lesbians and gays may raise children, but in actual sense, they grew to establish their selves as heterosexuals. As such, this reveals that homosexual gender identity is attributed to biology, and thus nurture.
In conclusion, even though gender can be learned through the social learning theory, it is also associated with genetics and biology. In essence, from the research, genes cannot be altered, but the question remains, if they cannot be modified, then why are there correlations of a learned gender identity behavior? The cognitive social learning theory supposes that the media has a role to play, where behaviors such as homosexuals and transgender are promoted, and this can fine-tune the mindsets of people to become more receptive to this behavior. Also, when children are raised in neighborhoods where homosexuality is rampant or where children are raised by parents who are homosexuals, there is a likelihood that through learning, the children will identify as homosexuals. In effect, this evidences the fact that indeed gender identity is a matter of nurture and nature. In essence, biology is a determinant of gender identity, in particular for the transsexual or people with gene disorders. For transsexuals, this may promote a mindset of becoming transgender at some point in their life. In addition, gender roles are also determinants of gender identity as men and women grow into different gender roles, they are programmed to bear offspring. As such, it can be surmised that genetic makeup initially drives most aspects of human development before birth, and after birth, environmental influences have a direct effect on human behavior, nature and nurture both play a role in determining gender identity.
Choi, Precilla YL. "Genes and gender roles: Why is the nature argument so appealing?." Psychology, Evolution & Gender 3.3 (2001): 279-285. Web. 24 Oct 2016.
Chernin, Jeff, and Janice Miner Holden. "Toward an understanding of homosexuality: Origins, status, and relationship to Individual Psychology."Individual Psychology 51.2 (1995): 90. Web. 24 Oct 2016.
Dragowski, Eliza A., Maria R. Rio, and Amy L. Sandigorsky. "Childhood gender identity disorder? Developmental, cultural, and diagnostic concerns." Journal of Counseling & Development 89.3 (2011): 360-366. Web. 24 Oct 2016.
Eagly, Alice H., and Wendy Wood. "The naturenurture debates 25 years of challenges in understanding the psychology of gender." Perspectives on Psychological Science 8.3 (2013): 340-357. Web. 24 Oct 2016.
Ford-Martin, P.A. (2011). Gender Identity Disorder. In L.J. Fundukian (Ed.), The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine (4th ed., Vol 3, pp. 1850-1851). Detroit: Gale.
Patterson, Charlotte J. "Children of lesbian and gay parents: Psychology, law, and policy." American Psychologist 64.8 (2009): 727. Web. 24 Oct 2016.
Petersen, Jennifer L., and Janet Shibley Hyde. "A meta-analytic review of research on gender differences in sexuality, 19932007." Psychological bulletin 136.1 (2010): 21. Web. 24 Oct 2016.
Slife, Brent D., ed. Taking si...
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