The information acquired over the semester, whether through text or visual media, vividly brought the importance of knowing how one’s gender is identified and developed.
Basically, what one needs to know before proceeding to read through this analysis of gender development is that gender identity refers to “one’s sense of oneself as male, female, or transgender” (American Psychological Association, 2006). When one’s gender identity and biological sex are not congruent, the individual may identify as transsexual or as another transgender category (cf. Gainor, 2000). Example, Jennifer in the book, She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, who brought us through the struggle of living a transgendered life from start to finish. Also, the formation of gender identity is influenced by social factors, such as family, friends, the environment, etc. For example, fathers tend to be more involved when their sons engage in gender-appropriate activities such as playing baseball or soccer rather than wanting to become a dancer or a cheerleader.
In regards to the development of gender identity, it is a more complex issue to deal with, as one has to be concerned about all aspects of the person life, starting from even before they have been born (Swaab, 2004), to a point in their life where they are settled and satisfied with their identity. The American Psychological Association states that while development is very fluid among young children, it is usually believed to form between ages 3 and 6, however many transgender, individuals are not able to embrace their true gender identity until much later in life, largely due to societal stigma associated with these identities.
Studies done by Kohlberg also indicate that children develop gender identity in three (3) different stages: (1) as toddlers they learn about male or female distinctions i.e. gender labeling, (2) around age 4 gender identity becomes set, also known as gender stability and; (3) this is the final stage known as gender constancy which happens between 5 and 7 years and is the stage at which the child understands that cosmetic changes will not alter sex.
Although the development of gender identity is not entirely comprehended, many factors have been suggested which causes an individual to lean towards a certain gender more than the other. Biological factors that may influence gender identity include pre- and post-natal hormone levels and genetic makeup (Swaab, 2004). Social factors include ideas regarding gender roles conveyed by family, authority figures, mass media, and other influential people in a child's life, i.e. children are often shaped and molded by the people surrounding them, who they try to imitate and follow (Maccoby, 1988).
These are both the main stages of gender identity development and the factors that can have an effect on our gender identity. This I believe is the core of the research done about development of gender identity, and hence, this is what I will be focusing this...