Behavior and Gender Identity

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Interaction between Hormones and

Behavior Regarding Gender Identity

Dawn Bennett

7/27/2012

PSY/340

Gary Mayhew

Explain the interaction between hormones and behavior, and how these interactions affect the determination of gender identity.

Hormones and behavior affect gender identity in significant ways, each having a distinct

purpose and outcome. As hormones affect ones body biologically and physically, behavior is

constructed from environmental stimuli.

Biological factors play a large part in physical development. Hormones are responsible for

sending natural chemical messages. These hormones shape the appearance of physical characteristics. Some studies state that same sex hormones that determine sexual organ differentiation in utero have a significant involvement in shaping gender identity. Human beings are sexually oriented by nature. Young children are taught preference when it comes to many things, one of them being personal sexuality and stereotypes regarding social sexuality. They observe specific behaviors concerning sexuality, whether it be; heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. They are exposed to differences in sexuality on television, in music, and in public places. Children are taught or guided to have specific opinions about personal preference and how comfortable they are with their bodies. Some are taught to believe that homosexuality is wrong and should not be tolerated, others are taught that it is simply a personal choice. A number of children are taught that masturbation is disgusting and one should feel guilty and ashamed if even thinking of it. Parents and families have a distinct, sometimes invisible power regarding how a child behaves sexually or how comfortable a child is with their body. Typically, children who have not had access to understanding, explanation, and personal freedoms in regards to sexuality and gender identity grow up discovering they have psychological issues with their bodies and sexual orientation or preference.

Other children are taught that sexuality is something you grow into. These children are encouraged to be comfortable with who they are and whatever they choose is accepted and embraced. Whatever children are taught or guided into, has been passed down from generations long before them. The beliefs or opinions of a family are passed through members with pride and passion. Some of these are passed through religion, others are passed through simple belief and culture. No matter what the reasoning behind the belief, each family has their own. John Locke believed in tabula rasa, which means the mind begins as a blank slate, so all that we are and all the knowledge we have obtained is due to experience. This theory supports the nurture factor of sexual differentiation and gender identity. If one is taught to act and live as one gender, the belief is that they are in fact supposed to be that gender, usually without question. In studies that have been conducted by numerous psychologists and biologists, this theory has many undecided factors and contains a lack of credibility. In our society, “female or male” is socially accepted and acknowledged. When it comes to people who are born without specific genitalia, mutilated sexual organs, or both, society can be very cruel and ignorant. There are case studies that have shown children who feel as though they are in the “wrong” body, and were meant to be the opposite sex. In these cases, other options have been explored, depending on the individual. Other philosophers like Plato and Descartes believed that some things occur naturally and are not influenced by environment in any way. This theory supports the nature factor of sexual differentiation and gender identity. One of the first studies conducted by Hopkins researchers involved 27 genetically male children. All had normal XY chromosomes. All were born with cloacal exstrophy, explained as; a lack of penis, testicles are normal. 25...
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