Interaction Hormones Behavior, Interactions Affect Determination Gender Essay

Length: 6 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Women's Issues - Sexuality Type: Essay Paper: #95073895 Related Topics: Aggressive Behavior, Nature Vs Nurture, Steroids, Gender Inequality
Excerpt from Essay :

Interaction Hormones Behavior, Interactions Affect Determination Gender Identity

There are two important distinctions to be drawn, the biological determination of a human being's sex and the gender identity. The former cannot be denied as it is manifest and the complete distinction between a male and female in terms of organs and biological build up is manifest. The perception of an individual regarding who 'he' or 'she' is being defined as 'gender identity' Hormones may help create the female or male in the womb but are they having a role in determining the gender identity? The discussion on the social inequality between men and women have drawn in the interest of biological and social scientists and some arguments were forwarded by them that women make better mothers, while men are genetically molded to be aggressive and so on. Then was the debate of nature vs. nurture. (Williams; Birke; Bendelow, 2003)

This research into the gender roles during the 1970s and thereafter prompted some feminist social scientists to regard gender as a biological essence in the social context that produced the differentiation of two categories of beings - men and women, which they argued occurred because of socialization processes. But the basic biological differences did create a divide between women and men and it was undeniable. Thus nurture could not overcome nature. (Williams; Birke; Bendelow, 2003) The question then becomes if the study of the interaction between hormones and behavior, and how these interactions affect the determination of gender identity.

Various Roles:

It can be seen that the biological factors, family and the environmental situations are the basic parameters that influence sexual differentiation and gender identity. In biological terms it has been discovered that the difference between the human males and females is moderate. This is stated so because in other mammals like mice, the male and females are almost identical -- only difference being the size of the gametes and the differences in genital plumbing, while others like the lion show major differences in anatomy of the male and female. In vertebrates and mammals especially the male and female differences occur with the gonadal differentiation -- that is the genes that determine if the gonads will become testes or ovaries. The gonad produces the hormones like testosterone and estrogen from which point the biological differentiation begins. (Roughgarden, 2004) The biological process has precedence over all others because the being is created by the process.

Nature- The Biology of Humankind:

Hormones and chromosomes play a vital role in creating the humans and determining the sex. The study of sex hormones extended the idea that sex is found beyond the world of living organisms. Thus today even chemicals have had a sex of their own. So we have "male sex hormones, female sex hormones and heterosexual hormones as a reality that simply exists in nature." (Oudshoorn, 1994)

If we accept the existence of female and male sex hormones there is the parallel argument that scientists instead of describing reality create such issues by labeling realities. The understanding of hormones plays a crucial role in the debate. A hormone may be defined as a chemical messenger that will alter or affect the function or metabolism of a cell. The steroid hormones that are the focus here consist of the steroid nucleus, perhydro -- cyclopentenophenanthrene ring and this is concerned with the method of altering or directing human sexual behavior. The various aspects of gender identity and gender role can be biologically considered thus from the view point of testosterone metabolism or as a function of cortisol metabolism. Many other types of relations that hormones can be a part of could relate to the organism's


It must be noted that hormones could be the underlying cause of testosterone-or progesterone-related disorders and may others like corticosteroid or gonadotropin-related problems. (Persky, 1987)

Gender problems of the physical kind are also caused by malformed genes. Some development problems like the turner syndrome, where one sex chromosome is missed and thus has a single X karyotype turn out to be infertile and have gender identities as female and because of the infertility, appearance and the genetic profile, make them feel as not females and cause confusion in gender role. At the other extreme, the Klinefelter syndrome occurs when the fetus possesses a sex karyotype of XXY. Here there is a normal male. But during puberty, "he experiences excessive gynecomastia, with low serum testosterone levels. Infertility is common, and general appearance is tall and thin." Gender identity is affected by these factors. In most cases, the gender role is, in fact, male; activities and rearing typically are also male. But there are emotional disorders and in cases where intersexed conditions as in hermaphrodites and those with Klinefelter syndrome; these people consider themselves both male and female. Likewise the Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia -- CAH can cause variations in female fetal development and the female has a stereotypically masculine identity. (Ghosh, 2009)

Except such extreme cases the gender identity is developed by the human being in relation to his or her biological sex based on the social conditioning, training and environment. Thus the differentiation between the gender and gender identity has to be established. Gender identity may go beyond biology in the sense that it could relate to how a being thinks of itself as a male or female and in some cases, both, or neither and is likened to the gender role. It can be based as the individual's personality. This identity is created by the mind and the role of the gender to which the person subscribes is adopted by the person. Thus a male who identifies his personal gender as a male has a gender identity as male. But his gender role may also be male if he shows masculine characteristics in behavior, dress, and thought. That being the argument for role identity as opposed to the gender identity, it can be argued that the gender role may be an expression of the gender identity. (Ghosh, 2009) Therefore there is still the question of nurturing and training.

What Influences Gender Identity?

Having differentiated that gender as is found in the biological sense is different from the individuals' perception of the gender and its role, it is pertinent to argue that the perceptions of the individuals are not based on the hormones, but more so on the social background. The perceptions of gender identity may change with the changes in the age, situation and other factors not related to the genomes. It is argued that the perception of gender -- or how a being defines its gender or what it is always changes over time. The definition of the individual of his or her status in terms of gender is based on biological influences, but is also caused by external forces like the influence of the family peers, and the culture and the society in which the individual exists. The thoughts, feelings, and the behavior of the individual and those around influence perception of gender perhaps more than the biological and genetic factors. (Lippa, 2002)

Gender identity, clearly begins in the intrauterine stage. Hormone-induced sexual dimorphism in the growing fetus probably plays a primary role. This is apparent in the fact that, most commonly, female sex corresponds with female gender, just as male sex and male gender are commonly linked. "Initially, all human fetuses are primed to have a female sex, in that the default pathway for development is toward female anatomy." (Ghosh, 2009) From the birth on the society grooms the individual in enforcing his or her sexual identity. Identity can be based more on the way the child is reared. Gender identity is a result of social and parental upbringing. (Donovan, 1985) While the argument that there are biological factors that affect all gender role perceptions it can be argued that the biological factors that affect gender perceptions are prenatal sex hormones, genes, and the continuous genetic and hormonal effects. There is a marked increase of the effects of hormonal and physical changes that occur during puberty, childbirth and other occasions. (Lippa, 2002)

On the other hand the greater influence that is brought on a person in identifying their gender and subsequently gender-based behavior stems from the environment and the social climate. Training and nurturing has a greater effect in molding the individual's perceptions and these nurturing activities are at times able to override the biological differences and hormonal problems that would other wise cause imbalance and confusion. Thus the influence of the family on the individual which include parent influence and the gender roles and stereotypes that is seen at home, learned from classmates, friends, and coworkers contribute to the individuals gender perception and these along with the general social condition mould the behavior and the individual perceives the identity by the influence of all these complexities. (Lippa, 2002)

In contrast to this claim it was proved in a research by Zhu and Cai (2006) that androgens, or the male sex hormones, is…

Sources Used in Documents:


DeFries, Zira; Friedman, Richard C; Corn, Ruth. (1985) "Sexuality: New Perspectives."

Greenwood Press: Westport, CT.

Donovan, Bernard T. (1985) "Hormones and human behaviour"

CUP Archive.

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