Gender identity acts as an aspect of self-concept, which gives a person the sense of being either a male or a female. The gender role affects gender identity, which is the outward manifestation and not necessarily the child’s sex at birth (Rathus, Nevid & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). It is possible for a child to have a hindered gender identity at the time of birth caused by hormonal errors during development stage. Hormonal errors lead to conflict between the inner sexual self and physical sexual genitalia. As early as 18 months, the children become aware of their anatomic sex and there is no confusion whether a child is a male or a female. Definition of Gender takes place at the age of 36 months when the children fully develop.
Factors that determine gender identity
Many factors come in, which determine gender identity. One of the factors is environmental factors where gender identity can be identified through the gender role. Environmental factors depend on the nature and nurture and their roles. Nature is biological factors in which a child finds himself or herself in; while nurture is psychosocial factors determined by the way a child is reared. Most males and females are reared according to their anatomic sexes and not according to chromosomal sexes. As illustrated by Rathus et al. (2005) chromosomal sex is a strong factor because it is usually consistence with the gender identity. Social factors may determine gender identity depending on the observable factors that are evident such as appearance and behavior. Just by observation, one is able to identify whether a person is a male or a female. At times, there is error in nature, which makes a person to be born with confliction of genetic make up. Some of the people with nature error may be born hermaphrodite, with both testicular and ovarian tissues or intersexual. Intersexual are the people with genetic and physical characteristics that define them as one sex, but the individuals feel that they belong to another sex and that they live in another body.
Masculine and feminine traits using the continuum of masculinity - femininity
In describing a man, it is not just a matter of female or male. There are other masculine and feminine traits used to describe gender identity (Rathus et al., 2005). Traits are different for both male and female because when describing man, some words that are likely to be used include courageous, strong, and aggressive. On the other hand, words mostly used in describing a female are sensitive, warm, and gentle. People get confused when they see a man with some traits that resemble that of a woman even if they claim to be male or vice versa. This largely depends on the stereotype description adopted by the human beings. It is possible to get a sensitive male but that goes against the description of men. When a man is sensitive, there is a tendency of the society assuming femininity instead of masculinity.
Three factors that helped determine gender identity
With female identification, one of the factors that help identify the gender identity is the genetic makeup, which comes from the chromosomes. The genetic makeup identifies with the anatomic sex that resembles that of a female. Another factor that has helped to determine gender identity is the physical traits, which are similar to that of a feminine. There are no conflicts between the genetic make up and the physical traits regarding the gender identity. The third factor that determines self-gender identity is the gender role stereotype that does not fit that of a male. The gender role stereotype fits that of a female because it is described as sensitive, emotional, charming and affectionate (Rathus et al., 2005). The traits in the gender role stereotype are consistent and portrayed in the day-to-day activities as a part of personality. Identification as a female being has been contributed by the behavior patterns, physical traits, and the stereotypes in the gender roles.
Masculine and feminine traits using the continuum of masculinity- femininity
There are different masculine and feminine traits that describe people apart from the genetic make up and the stereotype gender roles. The physical traits are equally important because they describe the personality possessed by a person. Males have their personality, which is different from that of female. Females are linked with the sense of being sensitive and warm. Most men are not sensitive and the sensitivity of some is different from that of females. Being affectionate and emotional is attributed to the females and not to males. The feminine traits attributed to me are being emotional, sensitive, affectionate, warm, and charming. A male being may posses one of the above traits but not all traits.
Gender identity is not defined by one factor, but it depends on a combination of factors that include the inner self, genetic makeup, physical appearance, environmental factors, chromosomes, and psychological factors. It is usually difficult to identify gender when there is an error in nature because individuals cannot identify with a particular sex comfortably.
Rathus, S.P., Nevid, J.S., & Fichner-Rathus, L.F. (2005). Human sexuality in a world of diversity (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc..