Gender And Sexual Identity Development

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Proficiency in gender and sexual self-identity and the functions and effects of gender roles is important because it allows one to understand themselves and how to relate to others. The creation of gender identity is a complex process involving biological, cultural, and psychological elements (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). A person’s gender identity is the deepest feelings one has about their gender and is expressed by the way they behave feminine, masculine, neither or both (Planned-Parenthood, 2015). For most individuals gender identity is not much of a concern (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Gender roles on the other hand are of much concern to people (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Gender roles tell one how to act as either a man or woman in their culture. In fact, many people question whether they are sufficiently feminine or masculine (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Not only does culture relate to gender identity and gender roles it also relates to sexual identity development. For instance, the world around a person helps shape their sexuality and the ways it is expressed (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Sexual identity is realized in adulthood when one identifies with a sexual identity such as; heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). This paper will analyze sexual and gender identity relating to how they evolve throughout ones’ lifespan and influences that contribute to their development. Analysis of; how gender identity contributes to sexual expression, functions and effects of gender/role stereotypes and their effects on relationships will be discussed.

When one is born, assignment of gender is given based on anatomical appearance (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). This assignment tells others how to respond affecting the individual’s social and cultural development (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). As development occurs through early childhood the individual is able to identify themselves as boy or girl based on what is internalized from what others have told them coupled by factors that are not yet understood (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). The feeling of either femaleness or maleness is the individual’s gender identity and is developed between the ages of 2 or 3 (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). During this stage some children may believe that they can change genders by changing their clothes or hair length (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). By the age of 6 or 7 children begin to understand that gender is permanent and it is not something that can be altered or changed by clothes (Yarber & Sayad,2012).

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Gender identity evolves with how we feel and express our gender and gender roles (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). These expressions are linked to culture and are expressed through clothing, behavior, and personal appearance (Planned-Parenthood, 2015). Although gender identity is established by seven years of age gender identity expression is communicated and it evolves over time through changes in society and culture (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Different pressures from birth through childhood to conform to ones gender are expressed through learning gender roles (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). In infancy throughout childhood a girl may be given dresses to wear, have long hair, and may be prescribed to wear colors such as pink (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Conversely boys may be prescribed to wear pants and blue colors. Parents begin assignment of gender roles based on a child’s gender which shapes the formation of their gender identity (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Parents deploy the use of manipulation from infancy onward by treating girls gently, telling her she’s pretty (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). They tell boys they are strong and tell them that boys do not cry (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Channeling is used by directing children’s attention to objects that are gender specific such as dolls for girls and cars for boys (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Parents during childhood also use verbal appellation to describe the same behavior with different words for boys and girls (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Activity exposure is another way parents expose their children to gender roles (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). For instance boys are discouraged from imitating their mothers while girls are encouraged to be there mother’s helper (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Throughout childhood and adolescence teachers and peers are socializing agents that also provide standards for gender-role behavior (Yarber & Sayad, 2012).

As mentioned earlier gender roles influence the adaptation of one’s gender identity (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). The relationship of gender roles and gender identity is also linked with sexual expression (Yarber & Sayad,2012). One will sexually express themselves through gender roles that are learned as well as through social and cultural roles which offer sexual scripts that provide rule, acts, and expectations associated with a particular role (Yarber & Sayad,2012). The sexual scripts in American culture strongly influence sexual expression in both men and women. Sexual scripts and gender roles may be different for those that are bisexual, transgender, lesbian and gay (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Sexual scripts organize one’s sexual expression (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). There is a cultural component to sexual scripts which emphasizes heterosexuality, places sexual intercourse first, and discourages masturbation (Yarber & Sayad, 2012).Within cultural scripts there are specific male and female scripts that are encouraged by society to be practiced (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Male sexual scripts include; men should not have or express certain feelings, performance is only what counts, the man is in charge and already know what the woman wants, a man is always ready for sex and wants it, all physical contact leads to sex, all erotic contact leads to sexual intercourse, and sexual intercourse leads to orgasm (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Female sexual scripts include: sex is both good and bad, sex is for men and love is for women, men should know what women want, women should not talk about sex, women should look like models, a man’s desires should be over hers and his orgasm over hers, and only through penile penetration can a woman have an orgasm (Yarber & Sayad, 2012). Interpersonal scripts deal with shared conventions and signals expressed by a couple signaling sexual behaviors. Intrapersonal scripts deal with the physiological states that lead to or identify sexual arousal (Yarber & Sayad, 2012).

Gender role attitudes and behaviors of the male sex I would like to see become more like my own include men looking like models and being constantly attractive. I think if this same standard was mentioned or even enforced culturally and by media standards there just may be consensus between both males and females that such standards are not ideal and is ridiculous. Another gender role stereotype that would be nice to see in the male sex is for men to become nurturers. It would be nice to see more males make sacrifices for the partner’s careers or the children’s needs even if it may inconvenience them form what they may want . The on taking of this role may help make roles androgynous. The final role behavior I would like to see more like my own is for males to be caregivers of children. Men becoming caregivers of children may allot women more opportunities within the workplace because they have the peace of mind knowing their counterpart is taking care of their child.

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Gender And Sexual Identity Development. (2021, September 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
“Gender And Sexual Identity Development.” Edubirdie, 09 Sept. 2021,
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