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Gender Identity There are many theories into the formation of gender identity.

Psychoanalytical theory emphasises the importance of identification of same-sex parent, social learning theory emphasises the explicit rewards and punishments for behaving in sex-appropriate ways as well as vicarious learning that observation and modelling can provide, and cognitive developmental theory emphasises the ways in which children socialise themselves once they have firmly labelled themselves as male or female (Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974). For the purpose of this essay, I will discuss three theories in regard to gender identity. The first is Kohlbergs cognitive developmental theory, second is the gender schema theory and lastly is the organisation-activation hormones theory. Evidence and research will be presented and evaluated for each theory. Cognitive Developmental Theory The basic principle of Kohlbergs CDT is that a child's understanding of gender develops with age. There are three stages involved. The first is gender identity which happens at about 2 years of age, and it is where the child recognises they are male or female and other people are as well. The next stage happens at about the age of 4 and is called gender stability. Here, the child now understands that their gender is fixed and will be male/female when they are older. The last stage is gender constancy, which happens between the age of 5 and 7 and is the stage at which the child understands that changes in appearance does not alter sex. For example, a girl wearing jeans is still female. Once children achieve this understanding about themselves, information about gender categories is believed to take on greater significance in how children respond to gender norms, develop relevant attitudes, and guide their behaviours. Cognitivedevelopmental theory also emphasizes that gender development involves an active construction of the meaning of gender categories, initiated internally by the child rather than externally by socialization agents. Finally, it argues that mastery or competence motivation is a driving force in gender development, as children seek to bring their perceptions and behaviours in line with their developing knowledge about gender categories. Evaluation and Evidence Kohlberg is not always clear about the extent of gender knowledge required to understand each stage. Contemporary cognitive-developmental theorists have agreed that basic gender identity has motivational significance but have also suggested that higher levels of gender understandingnamely, stability or consistencymay provide an additional or different kind of motivation for children to actively socialize themselves with regard to gender (Ruble, 1994). For example, basic gender identity may increase interest in and information seeking about gender, whereas more sophisticated levels of understanding may enhance childrens desire to ensure that they are behaving in accordance with gender norms. Given that sex differences occurs before the age that children gain a full understanding of gender constancy, the question is whether Kohlbergs theory contributes to further distinguishing gender differences. The main hypothesis that has been tested is that higher levels of gender constancy are associated with an increased responsiveness to gender related information and having a more rigid application of gender norms. Numerous studies support

the idea that gender constancy understanding influences gender-typed behaviours, but there are many mixed or null findings as well. There is current research to show significant relationships between gender constancy understanding and other aspects of gender development e.g. selective attention, same-sex modelling, same-sex activity, clothing and peer preferences, gender stereotype knowledge and affective indices of heightened responsiveness to gender. In some cases these relations hold for the highest stage of gender constancy, however the lower levels of gender stability or gender identity is more apparent in other cases. A final general point about relations with constancy, alluded to above, is that Kohlberg (1966) may have erred in emphasizing the final stage of gender constancygender consistencyas the most important level of understanding for motivating gender role adherence in children (Maccoby, 1990). When the literature on relations between level of gender constancy and responsiveness to gender-related information is reviewed, gender consistency does not emerge as the crucial component (Ruble & Martin, 1998). Instead, significant relations often involve lower levels of understanding, such as gender stability and even gender identity. Does this observation invalidate cognitivedevelopmental theory? As Maccoby (1990) notes, Kohlberg may have been right about the motivational importance of a firm gender identity for promoting gender differentiation, even if this identity emerges earlier than Kohlberg thoughtthat is, prior to full gender constancy. The crucial cognitive achievement in Kohlbergs view is childrens recognition of the categorical significance of gender, which in turn motivates them to comply with gender norms at a particular point in development. The cognitive approach to gender development gained even more momentum with the advent of the gender schema theory. The gender schema theory (Bem, 1981) is an informationprocessing approach where the distinction between male and female serves as a basic organising principle for every human culture. It argues that the developing child is learning content-specific information, the particular behaviours and attributes that are to be linked with sex. Schemas direct children in an active manner, in that children are motivated to seek information about gender as soon as they can identify themselves as boys or girls. More specifically, once they recognise their membership in a gender category, children seek details and scripts for same-sex activities and are more attentive to differences between boys and girls. From a cognitive perspective, childrens growing knowledge about what boys and girls like and how they differ is expected to influence and guide childrens own interests and behaviours. How might gender schema theory apply to gender identity? The child learns to apply this same gender schematic processing/selectivity to the self. Thus gender identity emerges as the child also learns to evaluate his or her adequacy as a person in terms of gender schema, to match his or her preferences, attitudes, behaviours and personal attributes against prototypes stored within it. This induces an internalised motivational factor that prompts the individual to regulate his or her behaviour so that it conforms to the cultures definitions of maleness and femaleness. And that sex-typed behaviour in turn further reinforces the gender-based differentiation of the self-concept through the individuals observation of his or her own behaviour (Bem, 1972).

It is important to note that gender schema is a theory of process and not content. Because sextyped individuals are seen as processing information in terms of and conforming to whatever definitions of masculinity and femininity the culture dictates. Evaluation and Evidence Bradbard and Endsley (1983) found a powerful influence of gender stereotypes on childrens preference to toys. Children played more with own-sex-labelled toys than with other-sex labelled toys, and both-sex toys were intermediate. Childrens memories also showed an influence of gender labels: Children recalled more names of own-sex labelled toys than othersex labelled toys and both-sex toys were intermediate (Bradbard & Endsley, 1983). Several other studies have demonstrated similar patterns of results on childrens behaviour and preferences (e.g. Martin et al.1995). Furthermore, when the influence of gender stereotype labels and sex of models have been directly compared, gender labels have been found to influence childrens behaviour more than models sex (Masters, Ford, Arend, Grotevant, & Clark, 1979). Gender stereotyping labels also have been demonstrated to influence childrens motivation, accuracy, and expectancies for success (Davies, 1986, 1989). The most commonly cited evidence concerning stereotype knowledgebehaviour links have been correlational studies. The evidence from these studies is mixed. Also, very few studies have tackled the most relevant issuewhether specific knowledge about which sex is more likely to do a particular behaviour (or who they think should do this more often) relates to the likelihood of children engaging in that behaviour. Thus, there is little direct evidence relevant to this issue. Gender stereotype knowledge is also considered to be only one of many factors (e.g., toy attractiveness, social desirability, personal skills, and familiarity) likely to affect childrens decisions about what they like and what behaviours they choose to engage in. Just because a girl learns that dolls are for girls and trucks are for boys does not mean that she will always choose a doll over a truck when given a choice. For instance, toy attractiveness influences childrens choices. Unfortunately, many tests of the relation between knowledge and preferences involve measures in which the attractiveness of items is not equated or taken into account. Organisation-Activation Theory on Hormones The long-held nurture versus nature debate has also been applied to gender identity. From a biological perspective, gender identity is easily recognised through the genitals. Research has even established that sex hormones (i.e. testosterone and oestrogen) are organised during the early prenatal stages of development, and is then later activated during puberty the onset of sexual maturation (Phoenix, Goy & Young, 1959). This has been labelled as the organisationactivation theory which explains sexual dimorphic behaviours. However there have been unique cases of individuals who are born with biological characteristics of both males and females. Some had been born with genitals ambiguously male-like and female-like. Others were born with one ovary and one testis or with gonads combined into ova-testes or they might have had sex chromosomes, not of the typical male

XY or typical female XX composition. Determining gender identity in such cases becomes a lot more complicated. John Money studied these unique individuals and proposed his own theory of psychosexual neutrality at birth (Money, 1951), 1951). He proposed that attitudes and corresponding gender display were relatively independent of organizational prenatal biological forces and set by the boy or girl assignment at birth which was then reinforced by the experiences of life (Diamond, 1965). He believed that the uniqueness of human nature relies more on the social factors to determine the organisational effects of sexual behaviour. Many believed and accepted Moneys theory in that humans gender identity, unlike other animals, was basically the product of rearing, life experiences and acculturation. Evidence to support Moneys psychosexual neutrality at birth theory was mainly provided by inter-sex individuals who successfully adapted themselves to an assigned gender role inconsistent with one or more morphological criteria of sex. So essentially, the theory was not supported by normative data. However this was soon addressed in 1975 where David Reimer, a male twin, had his penis accidentally burned during phimosis repair at the age of 8 months. So it was decided that he would be raised as a girl after having his penis removed and going through preliminary feminising surgery. Monitored yearly along with having regular meetings with a local psychiatrist, the sex re-assignment was reported successful. Money (1975) wrote that no one would ever conjecture that the girl was born a boy. Her behaviour paralleled that of an active girl and was distinct from the boyish ways of her twin brother. These findings infiltrated the media and received major attention from the public as well as the medical society. Beliefs about gender identity being nurtured seem to prevail as numerous psychology and sociology texts used the case of David Reimer to support the contention that sex roles, gender identity and sexual behaviours could be essentially learned. It also seriously challenged the theory of significant prenatal behavioural organisation. These findings also encouraged physicians to perform surgery on inter-sexed individuals, believing they could be successfully raised to an assigned gender without feeling abnormal. The practice became standard that the American Academy of Paediatrics reported research on children with ambiguous genitalia has shown that sexual identity is a function of social learning through differential responses of multiple individuals in the environment (Catlin & Crawford, 1994). Based on Moneys theory, physicians believed that individuals were psychosexually undifferentiated (neutral) at birth however the appearance of genitalia crucial and therefore surgery should be done to decrease gender ambiguity. Further support for this procedure was provided by positive reports from parents of children who had problems with their genitals, if they were counselled appropriately (Money et al, 1981). Suffice to say, the theory of organisation-activation effects had little impact on paediatricians and the theory of psychosexual neutrality was widely accepted. However, transsexuals individuals who were raised normally and had no problems with their genitals openly challenged both their gender rearing and denying their biological sex as their gender identity. Instead, transsexuals reported feeling like the opposite sex from as early as an age they could remember. One would think this would cast doubts in the relevance of nurture in gender identity however instead, transsexuals were believed to have a mental problem a gender identity disorder or gender identity dysphoria as so recorded in the DSM-IV-TR (2000).

However, biological evidence for the organisation-activation effect theory was developing and challenged the theory of sexual neutrality at birth. Research found that gonadal hormones appear to influence development of some human behaviour that shows sex differences. The evidence is strongest for childhood play behaviour and is relatively strong for sexual orientation and tendencies toward aggression (Collaer & Hines, 1995). Also, research demonstrating the testosterone generated organisation of sexual behaviour for animals began to accrue (Beach, 1976). Also, by 1980 it was revealed that things for David Reimer had not been going as predicted. Even without knowing that he had been sex re-assigned, he did not respond well to his upbringing as a female and the absence of his penis did not seem to deter his identification as a male or decreasing his masculine behaviours. The truth about his case was only publically revealed in 1997 where David admitted that he never truly felt like a girl and demonstrated from early on that he behaved more typically like a male. Further evidence against the theory of the psychosexual neutrality at birth came from Reiner who had reported on a male teenager who was reared as a girl from birth yet he still announced himself male at the age of 14. The impact was immediate. Physicians began to finally question their clinical practice regarding sex re-assignment and it seemed to overall suggest that being male or female was innate, immune to the interventions of doctors, therapists and parents (Angier, 1997). The theory of psychosexual neutrality was weakened whereas that of prenatal organisation and subsequent activation was given support. In a review paper by Cooke et al (1998), they summarised much of the accruing evidence on the influence of pre- and postnatal androgens in masculinising the male nervous system and behaviour in humans and animals. It stated that there were ample of evidence if sexual dimorphism in the human brain, as sex differences in behaviour would require, but there has not yet been any definite proof that steroids acting early in development directly masculine the human brain. This might explain why cases like David Reimer began to strongly fight against their sex re-assignment during the peak years of puberty (i.e. 14), presumably to do with the activation effects of sex hormones that occurs in puberty. Additionally, it seemed that the organisation-activation effects theory could also help explain transsexual development. It appears that that the extent of androgens exposure in the brain in utero, early postnatal period and at puberty has more of an effect determining male gender identity than sex of rearing and sociocultural influences when there is inadequate testosterone production or action where adequate androgens imprinting in the brain has NOT occurred then the sex of rearing becomes the predominant factor (Imperato-McGinley, 2002). Zucker (2004) did a review on gender identity development and related issues regarding children with gender dysphoria. In respect organisation-activation effects theory, he stated the transsexuals may feel the need to convert to the opposite sex due to less pronounced variations of the prenatal hormonal milieu that do not affect genital differentiation but plays a part in expressing dimorphic behaviour. In similar cases of David, Reiner found that active prenatal androgens effects appeared to dramatically increase the likelihood of recognition if male gender identity independent of sex-of-rearing. Increase levels of androgens in the brain may explain female-to-male transsexuals however in the case of male-to-female transsexuals the person would experience normal levels of androgens. The biological mechanism is unknown for how a female gender identity is developed although it must apparently override the effects of prenatal androgens (Gooren, 2006).