Last Updated 16 Jun 2020

Describe Sexual and Gender Identity, the Distinction Between Them

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In physiological side, the sex identity is regarding the appearance of the external sex organs at the birth of an infant. Hence, the sex identity of boy or girl is usually straight forward related to biological. On the other hand, the gender identity is more complicated. It cannot be focus on biological process and it may affect by many aspects. Firstly, the behavior of males and females always affect by different culture and society. Each culture has their own sex roles standards and can change as time goes on.

For example, there is big difference viewpoint when we look at a transvestist nowadays. We can accept this is a trendy and they are fashionable. Even though many parents can gradually accept their son or daughter is a transgender, they will try their best to lead their children in the appropriate sex roles from infancy stage. Girl must wear dress in pink and play with their “Barbie” doll. Whereas, boy must play with their car or transformers toys. Also boy should be stronger than girl and protect them always. Crying is for girl only.

Hence, the major influences on the child’s adoption of typical masculine or typical feminine are their parents’ attitudes. In general, tomboy is easier to accept by people than effeminate behavior for boys. The sex-roles of cultures that are radically different from our own. According to Margaret Mead's studying of three tribes, the Arapesh, the Mundugumor and the Tchambuli, she found that few sex role differences in the Arapesh and the Mundugumor. The males and females of the Arapesh were passive, gentle and co-operative. The Mundugumor were aggressive, restrictive and fierce.

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The Tchambuli appeared to be a complete reversal of the typical male and female sex-roles as we know them. The women were independent and aggressive whilst the men were considered sentimental and emotional. Such finding indicated a great deal of cultural and social influences on the child's formation of either male or female. By learning theory, the acquisition of gender roles was by teaching rather than biological. Bandura, the social learning theorist, believe that sex appropriate behaviors are learned like the other behaviors.

They are both via imitation and reinforced by parents. Non-appropriate behaviors is not allowed or actively discouraged. From the infant was born, their parents started to instil sex appropriate behaviors consciously and unconsciously. Goldberg and Lewis in 1969 studying 32 girls and 32 boys with their mothers, they found that the emergence of sex-typed behaviors by the age of 13 months and indicated links between these sex-appropriate behaviors and the way in which these toddlers had been treated by their mothers.

At the result, greater dependency on their mother which was showed by the girls at 13 months was due to the differences in handling at 6 months. Hence, it appears that early differences in handling may contribute to the emergence of sex-typed behavior. Some theorist believe that the biological factors still can explain why a child adopts a specific gender roles through two main ways. One is the effects of hormones and the other is the lateralisation of brain functions.

Young and his associates used monkey for testing. They injected pregnant monkeys with testosterone (a male hormone) early in their pregnancy. They found that female offspring had some genital abnormalities and showed types of social behavior which were more characteristic of male monkeys. Later testing the female monkeys injected testosterone after birth but before puberty, they become much more assertive, and even becoming very powerful.

From another theorist, John Money, he matched pairs of hermaphrodites, he concluded that it is the socially imposed identity which is the accepted one though there does appear to be a critical period between 18 months and 3 years after which sexual reassignment is unwise. Regard to the lateralisation of brain functions, two hemispheres of the brain specialize in different functions. In general, the left hemisphere is concerned with processing verbal material while the right hemisphere deals with spatial information.

The other theorist, Bryden found that men are more specialised than women. That means men are more vulnerable to the effects of brain damage than women. For example, if a woman suffers damage to the left hemisphere she is less likely to suffer language impairment than a man with similar damage. Similarly, if a woman suffers damage to the right hemisphere she is less likely to show spatial problems than a man. As a result, the specialisation of the two hemispheres of the brain seem to indicate that some sex differences are inate.

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