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Understanding Gender Identity

Gender identity is the sense of one own's gender from a personal perspective. It is different from gender role, which is the external expectations and meaning attached to a specific gender.

Nature or Nurture?

There is no universal consensus on what fuels gender identity with some studies proposing nature, while sociology has remained grounded on nurture; socialisation.
Nature (Biological Factors)

Here, the conceptualisation of gender identity is from a biological perspective. The basis of gender is informed by the presence of the primary and secondary anatomical features associated with a particular gender. For example, women will have female prenatal and postnatal traits such as hormones, while men will have those of males. The result is physical features, like genitalia, that identifies the person.

But then, there is some divergence in people. Intersex people, the transgender, transexual and gender variants, in general, won't fit in any category as their biological characteristics may not reflect their true gender identity.

Nurture (Socialisation)

Several social scientists have held the firm opinion that how a child is raised influences their gender identity. Well, this is widely acceptable considering the truth in several socialisation theories. Social roles ascribed to genders, for example, the role of men and the role of women, indeed, influence gender identity.

But there are several cases of non-conformity as well. Women have taken up the roles of men and still maintained their gender identity. Transexuals are also clear signs that socialisation, just like biological factors, doesn't always determine gender identity.

Indeed, biological factors, as well as socialisation, are determinants of gender identity. But there are always some atypical characters in society.