Impact the Development of Sexual and Gender Identity

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Impact the Development of Sexual and Gender Identity

It is hard for me to pinpoint the beginning of my sexual awareness. Throughout my rearing, questions about sex were never brought to my parents. However, my parents, family, media, social/educational, past relationships and religious upbringing had an impacted on the development of my sexual and gender identity.

Looking back over my life, I realize my initial ideas and influences about my sexual and gender identity developed through childhood experiences with my family. Traditionally women were the caretakers and men were the providers. There were many things that were done around our house that seem to be gender specific. Besides my mother taking care of my siblings and me, through the week my mother would cook, clean, go to the grocery store and make sure we all did our homework. My father worked outside the home to provide for our family. Whenever my siblings and I needed anything we told our mother, but my father would buy it. If my brothers needed chastising my father would chastise them. My father said girls should be chastised by their mother. Every Saturday was deep clean Saturday at our house. My siblings and I did not go out on Saturdays to socialize with friends until the entire house was thoroughly cleaned. My sisters and I cleaned the inside of the house while my brothers did the yard work and anything that was too heavy for us girls to do. In addition to the house chores being gender specific, the gifts that my siblings and I received at Christmas where also gender specific. For Christmas my brothers got cars, cap guns, police uniforms and fire trucks as gifts. My sisters and I got dolls, doll houses, easy bake ovens and ironing boards so, that we could iron our dolls clothing. My observation of my families’ roles developed my sexual and gender identity. Besides my family, the media (TV, magazines, the radio…etc) also had an impact on the development of my sexual and gender identity. According to the media, when I was being reared in the mid 1970’s, the traditional family consisted of a father, a mother and their children. T.V showed women in traditional sex roles such as homemakers and roles that gave attention to their physical attractiveness and dependence on men. The media also portrayed women as being passive, conforming, self subordinating and less competent than men. During this same era of time the media never depicted the parents of a nuclear family as being the same sex. Homosexuality during this time was taboo. When I was being reared, if two individuals of the same sex were portraying to be in a relationship, they were considered as being mentally ill. Therefore, the media had some impact on my sexual and gender identity as well. There was one event in the 4th grade that serves in my memory as the beginning of my sexual development. That year was when they divided the girls and the boys up and had separate talks about changes we could expect to our bodies. I know now that what they were trying to tell us that we would be in the process of becoming a woman, and to not panic when we begin to develop. There is nothing wrong with it, it’s a natural process. They tried to explain puberty and that girls have a menstrual cycle, but because at that time adults didn’t feel comfortable communicating about sexuality, I can remember leaving and having absolutely no clue what they were talking about. The schools continued to educate us on the science of sexuality and inform us on the continual changes are bodies were going through. Nevertheless, that was my first dose of "sex education" from a public school. As I moved up and out of the 4th grade, so did my awareness of sexuality.

My past relationship helps to establish my sexual and gender Identity. It was my sophomore year (16 years old) and I had started dating a young man from my old neighborhood. He and I were good friends before we dated, so it was easy to...
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