Development of Gender Identity

Identity is the most visible manifestation of that articulation, where our self "gets identified" with particular features and has the greatest influence on interpersonal and social actions. We develop identities as Hindus, Muslims, Christians, or atheists. I was born into a traditional household, but I 'identify' with contemporary principles, so I am a modernist. We may also believe, "I was born a female, but I think I am a boy," or vice versa. As a result, our identity is something we accept and own, and it significantly influences our interpersonal and social connections. We develop identities as a woman, a man, or a transgender person. When we grow up, we may change our identity.

What is Gender and Gender Identity?

Gender is a multidimensional reality that is socially formed and culturally produced. Gender depicts the culturally and socially determined roles, obligations, advantages, relationships, and expectations of men and women. Because they are socially created, they can alter over time and vary by location. Gender refers to culturally and socially acquired behavioral distinctions between males and females. By age three, children have developed an early sense of gender identification, learning to define themselves and others as females or males.

They also begin to participate in customary activities and duties. Almost all civilizations require the sexes to play various gender roles; these are the fundamental normative patterns of behavior that females and males should follow in a community. Gender role norms identify the shared features and behaviors considered desirable for males and females. Gender role norms are societal expectations or standards for how males and females should behave. Gender-based norms in every community produce gender-based stereotypes, which are overgeneralized and generally erroneous assumptions about the traits of all males and all females.

Development of Gender Identity

Gender identity, from a sociological standpoint, encompasses all of the meanings assigned to oneself based on one's gender identification. These self-meanings, in turn, serve as a source of incentive for gender-related behavior. Gender identity is sometimes forced on individuals by society. Gender identity is also self-identified as a consequence of a mix of innate and extrinsic or environmental elements. In contrast, gender role is exhibited within society through visible characteristics such as behavior and appearance.

Gender identity development is a multidimensional process that begins with conception and includes processes throughout gestation and learning events after birth. Traditional standards in certain communities require that everyone be labeled as either a male or a woman. When an individual's gender identity causes her to be a woman while having male genitals, she may feel 'dysphoria,' a severe depression induced by her sense of herself as a woman and her absence of phallus.

Gender role is typically an outward manifestation of gender identity, and most participants felt that gender identity and gender role are mutually exclusive. Cultural variances in the manifestation of one's gender role can sometimes grow; however, in certain other countries, such fine differentiation is acceptable since gender norms can play a role in characterizing gender identity.

The Dichotomy of Femininity and Masculinity

In modern epistemological discussions, the term dichotomy has become a significant question. The definition of dichotomy is "a separation or contrast between two things that are or are depicted as being opposed or wholly different." It is similar to dualism in that it categorizes how we believe. A dichotomy assumes the actuality of two opposing principles in all aspects. In this strategy, the dichotomy defines what is normal and aberrant, what is evil and good, and what is excluded and included. The contradiction between femininity and masculinity has become crucial in today's culture. People expect us to act, behave, and live according to our gender daily. Many people need help to meet the norms established for men and women.

In India, parents frequently advise their children to act following their gender. Girls, for example, are trained to be demure, sober, sensitive, soft-spoken, and subservient, whereas guys are taught to be aggressive, domineering, and harsh. Masculinity is characterized by being powerful and rough, whereas femininity is characterized by being weak and gentle. It is not conceivable to call these Indian cultural manifestations "natural." In our family, whether a child is a boy or a girl is debated from the minute, he or she is born. Furthermore, cultural expectations are developed around children depending on gender. The conscious and instinctive motivations of continuing the family tradition through the boy offer satisfaction.

Sexuality – Self and Body Awareness

Sexuality is defined in several ways, the most important of which are a need for self-validation by the chosen and accepted other, closeness and emotional connection, and a desire for pleasure and fulfillment. As previously stated, children's genders are allocated based on their major sexual traits at birth. The presence of a vaginal tube, the uterus and the ovaries (womb), the major and minor labia that fold the urethra and the clitoris, and the vulva, are the primary sexual features of males. Most of the time, the presentation of the major sexual features is unambiguous, and sex is assigned based on these observable characteristics. A decision is made on whether to raise the infant as a girl or a boy, depending on the given sex.

Sexuality is intimately related to self-awareness and self-validation. In societal conversations, sexuality is an essential but rarely mentioned issue. Psychologists, scientists, religious and social leaders, and reformers have recognized the value of healthy sexuality based on mutual respect and dignity for both men and women. However, there is a strong reluctance to discuss healthy sexuality in public and private settings.

Some psychologists believe that sexuality is at the foundation of human nature, while others believe it is an important motivation but not at the core. As puberty approaches, sexuality and bodily awareness become more prominent. Puberty is distinguished by the emergence of secondary sexual characteristics such as an increase in body hair, including pubic hair, the emergence of body hair on the face (as beards and mustaches) in men, the growth of breasts in women, and the onset of menstruation (called menarche) in girls, sperm production in boys and changes in voice, and an increase in height/weight for both girls and boys.


Our socialization process generates and maintains gender roles, or what men and women may and cannot do based on societal conventions. Many societal representations of gender indicate that we have preconceived and prejudiced ideas about men and women. Gender stereotypes are pre-determined expectations and judgments that shape our interpersonal and societal relationships.

Updated on: 05-Apr-2023


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