Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gender Identity



            All humans posses gender identity; most though match their anatomic appearance.  Gender identity is either male or female or in some cases, both.  Does gender define who we are or does who we are define our gender?  Culbertson states, “If it is not created, then the child will be assigned a grammatical gender (in the Western world, all children must be either a boy or a girl), which may or may not match that child's social gender as it evolves over the course of childhood” (Culbertson, 2009, para. 14).  Is this a fair statement to make?  How would one explain a hermaphrodite then?  What about accident related sex operations?  In the case of David Reimer for example.  He was born a boy accident occurred and was transformed into a girl. Spent twenty years as a female only to find out he was a male from the beginning.  This led to emotional problems and eventually led David to take his own life at 38 (New York Times, 2004). 
            David’s story expresses the importance of ones own gender.  It also shows that there is more than one contribution to gender than just sex organs.  Hopefully there will be an understanding into how gender identity occurs by the end of the paper.  The use of biopsychology and the environment will aid in a complete understanding of gender identity.  Hopefully there will be a deeper understanding of the subject regarding gender identity as well as a deeper understanding of one’s own individualism. 
            Many references have been made about women’s moodiness, usually around her menstrual cycle and menopause.  But, mood disorders are serious and should be taken as such.  Many identifying factors occur when looking at one’s mood.  Factors such as environmental, and psychosocial interact with each other and create vulnerability in both men and women.  Any one of these factors stem from biological and or environmental. 
            Biological factors show that pre-puberty rates of mood disorders are similar in both boys and girls.  Most gender differences in mood occur after the women have successfully had their menstrual cycle.  This combined with the hormonal ups and downs that occur sure shows signs that sex hormones and mood walk hand in hand. 
            Female gender is always connected with the presence of ovaries versus gonads and the male gender is associated with testis not present in females unless one is a hermaphrodite phenotype.   Behavior affects hormones changed by one’s environment regardless of if it is physical or social.  Social environment is random because people respond differently and have the ability to select one’s own environment.  This selection occurs based on prenatal androgen exposure. 
            For example a female joins the service, in basic they are taught many different things from how to make their beds exercise and eat.  As the soldier matures through basic training and the other various schools for training the female has adapted to the military regimen. She has become a part of her social environment.  The question is, does this make her more influenced to change her gender because she wears men’s size boots, Battle Dress Uniforms that are designed for men?
            The great debate still lingers is homosexuality based on environment or a result of biological factors.  This topic will continue to be debated because the side that says it stems from the environment has supporting documentation and experiments as well as the side that states it is from biological factors. 
            Human sexuality experimentation began in the 1930’s when Alfred Kinsey came up with two hypotheses.  The first is to understand the amount of males who participated in homosexual activity.  Not surprising that most asked replied with no.  When then asked if they had had sexual relations with the opposite sex the percentage of males who responded doubled.    The result of this experiment shows that 30% of males claim they had at least one orgasm during the homosexual act (Kula & Slowikowaska-Hilczer, 2000). 
            Karen Hooker received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.  Her quest was to discover how different heterosexuals and homosexuals are.  The experiment was divided into groups after the heterosexual and homosexual main category; Intelligence quotient (IQ) and level of education.  Each group was given three psychological tests the Rorschach, which is an inkblot test.  The Thematic Apperception Test (TAT), which is a picture interpretation test finally, the Make-A-Picture-Story Test (MAPS).  Each answer that the participants gave were then submitted to a panel of psychologists and the calculated.  Surprisingly there were little differences annotated between the two groups.  Because of this “score”, Hooker deduced that there was no direct correlation between environmental or social sexuality (Modi, Sarna, Sharma, & Marfatia, 2008).  In 1973 American Psychological Association (APA) because of her experiment removed homosexuality from Psychological Disorders.  APA then released a statement that followed up their choice by saying that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. 
            More recently, D.F. Swaab from the Netherlands conducted a study on male sexual differentiation of the brain.  Based on his research it was noted that in human subjects with genetic and other disorders show that direct effects of testosterone on the developing fetal brain are of major importance for the development of male gender identity and male heterosexual orientation (Swaab, 2004).  He also annotated that the homosexual’s hypothalamus was shaped differently as apposed to that of a heterosexual male.  The suprachiasmatic nucleus  was found to be twice that the size of someone desiring the opposite sex as a partner. 
            Researchers can suggest that biological factors give the impression that they are the strongest when looking at sexual differentiation and gender identity.  With the psychological adaptively of humans, one’s own natural instinct and the knowledge scientist gain by studying the brain both homosexuals and heterosexuals have a strong biological fight when stating what influences them to be who they are.  Environmental is controlled by that person’s mind basically stating that it is the mind over what they chose for themselves.  One’s instinct, hormones and biological programing create more challenges only because these forces come from within the body. 
            Since humans differ from each other, so do each one’s individual influences.  If someone was introduced to the prenatal hormones that determine sexuality but then are surrounded by an environment where their mind is influenced that person has the ability to change completely.  That said, it is hard to say truly what has the greater influence.  There are cases where a female is raised as a female should determine their sexuality.  But we all know it does not always happen this way.  If the answer were clearer, then there would be a better understanding why female homosexuals have a higher level of testosterone.  Does it come from the environment or her body?  Most likely, it is contribution of both that lead to the cause.
            Because someone looks a certain way there are many contributing factors that will determine their sexual orientation.  Fining a clearer answer to one’s gender will aid researchers understanding human nature.  Until that day, all must take into account that everyone has a choice to be who they want to be and regardless of  one’s sexual preference that does not make them ill or sexually ‘confused’ as the term has been coined.  Sexuality makes everyone individuals. A good person is based on his or her deeds in their own life not who they chose to spend their life with.  A saying that was spread though out the military states that every soldier puts their BDU’s on the same way regardless of color, creed, nationality or sexual orientation.  If  society would make this a standard practice and eliminate the sexual profiling possibly, just possibly, it will not matter of  “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” but a matter of if that person can complete the what is asked of them. 

References

Berk, L. (2003). Development Through the Lifespan 3rd Ed. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon.
Burr, C. (1993). Homosexuality and Biology. The Atlantic Monthly , 272 (3), 47-65.
Culbertson, P. (2009, February 1). Bobbittizing God: on the importance of the divine genitals
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Modi, M., Sarna, J., Sharma, A., & Marfatia, Y. (2008). Homosexuality: Nature or nurture.
            Abstract from current literature: Homosexuality , 29 (1), 54-56.
New York Times. (2004, May 12). David Reimer, 38, Subject of the John/Joan Case, Dies.
             Retrieved May 16, 2011, from New York Times:
            http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/12/us/david-reimer-38-subject-of-the-john-joan-
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Pinel, J. P. (2009). Biopsychology Seventh Edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Susiarjo, M. (2009, February 18). BPA changes hormones that control puberty, ovulation.
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