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Sex Typing And Gender Identity

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Gender plays a key role for human’s everyday lives. The gender we are given to in birth can affect every aspect of our lives from personality to even the way we feel about ourselves individually. It can also affect the sort of hobbies and passion that we are interested in, to the way we dress and even socialise to even the sort of career path and opportunities we choose in life based on our biological features (genitalia). In this essay, I will be exploring the differences between theories of sex typing and gender identity, to how religion and culture can play a key role in distinguish our gender identity.

People often get confused between the terms sex and gender. (Mcleod, S. 2014). The term sex is the biological and physical differences between males and females, it is something we are born with. An example of this is the effect of hormones. The term sex sex-typing is the process in which children acquire a sex or gender identity and learn gender appropriate behaviours. (Gross, R.2010,563).

The term gender refers to the type of behaviour, roles and expectation in both culture and society. An example of this is personality, an example of this is a girl playing football is deemed as ‘boyish’ and a boy playing with barbies is deemed him being ‘girlish’. Gender identity refers to how we and others view ourselves in relations to gender. An example of this is ‘a person’s internal, deep held sense of their gender’. (R29, E. 2018) An example of gender identity is Katlyn Jenner. Caitlyn Jenner was born male with the name Bruce Jenner. Bruce Jenner was an Olympic gold medal winning decathlete who went on to have children. In September 2015, Bruce Jenner publicly announced her transition.

There is still a huge debate between the differences between sex and gender in society. Many children throughout history and currently are born with both biological characteristics or feel they do fit the current description of their gender (gender identity). When a child’s gender has been distinguished based of their biological features (genitalia), the child’s parents then go on to treat their children through both gender stereo types aka blue for boy pink for girls and also using the bio-social approach. Bio-social approach is the social labelling and differential treatment of a biological male or female to steer development, such example of this is the Schaffer (2004) experiment who studied the influences of the child sex and the treatment by other adults.

When baby David cried the adults assumed, he was angry but when baby Dana the female cried the adults assumed it was fear. Children obverse and are taught how to be through social learning, social learning is the knowledge squired through study, experiences or being taught. An example of this is the Bobo doll experiment by Bandura (1961) theory. Bandura believes that people learn from one from another, via observation, imitation and modelling.

Bobo Doll experiment

Bandura Ross (1961) conducted a study on young children, investigating the effects on social behaviour such as aggression can be learnt through observation and imitation. During this experiment studied on 36 boys and 36 girls ages 3-6yrs. The experiment conducted of a video being shown to the children of a model or none at all. The children were than split up in the groups depending on their aggression levels. The result of this was children exposed to the aggressive model were more responded more aggressively and mimicking the model’s aggression compared to the other children in the non-aggressive or control group. The girls who was in the aggressive group showed more physical aggression if the model was male, however showed more verbal aggression if the model was female. For the boys the acted more aggression towards the dolls than the girls did.

The advantages for the Bobo doll experiment was that it was clear during the experiment is the Bandura was able to show easy manipulated children are, those children observing the model behaving violently towards the model reflected on how they acted compared to those who weren’t. This test showed how easily children are influenced. Another advantage to this experiment was that it was far in terms of the number of boys and girls and the gender of the model. Many people say that this experiment is a good representation on how children are influenced.

However, there are major flaws to this test. Before the test was conducted researchers pre-tested the children’s aggression level on a scale to 1-5 just by observing them. Throughout the whole experiment the child and the adult model. This means that the child could not influence the adult model at any given point as that was not included in the experiment, it was rather just the child observing the actions of the adult model to the bobo doll. People dispute that this experiment cannot be accurate as this is not what goes on everyday life as the child has some sort of social interaction. People also dispute that this experiment can vary between different ages and culture. Another major flaw to this was this experiment was almost like a snap shot, meaning there was no follow up with any of the children to see if they suffered any long-term effect from the experiment.

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Chromosome start sex differentiation as XX for female and XY for males. Hormones are then realised week between 7/8-24 weeks in which the sexual organs are then developed into either male or female organs. An example of sex is the Hines (2004) theory. Hines studied cases of girl’s congenital adrenal hyperplasia in the foetal stage but exposed to the male hormones during the critical period. Even though the females were born intersex with female sexual organs but appearances wise externally appeared male like, the parents often raised the child as a female through their biological features. Girls born with CAH although raised as female they often show more male typical behaviours. When the girls hit the sexually matured stage, many girls with CAH reduces heterosexual behaviours and preferred either same-sex or bi-sexual behaviours.

The positive outcome for girls with CAH is that most of the people did in fact, identify themselves as female. However, some of the girls did develop gender dysmorphia which mean a person does not feel the gender that they have been born with. Girls born with CAH possibility of showing ‘more male typical behaviour’ can be linked based on the biological external features aka the genitalia are shaped more like a penis then vagina hence the stereo typical behaviour as shown. To conclude, girls with this condition are more likely to end up acting more boyish, showing a higher interest in terms of same sex or bi-sexual relationship, some however do end up displaying gender identity as a result of their gender being chosen for them.

There have been many references regarding sex and gender identity throughout history. Even the society become more modernised and more accepting, it still to this day has not always been accepted by different cultures. Unfortunately, still to this day people are often discriminated against and often punished by their family because of either their sex/gender identity. This issue is still a controversial topic to this day even with the modernisation of society.

There have been many references regarding sex and gender identity throughout history. Even the society become more modernised and more accepting, it still to this day has not always been accepted by different cultures. Unfortunately, still to this day people are often discriminated against and often punished by their family because of either their sex/gender identity. This issue is still a controversial topic to this day even with the modernisation of society.

It is often the case in the western society that both men and women have very clear different gender roles. In the western society men are ‘masculine’. Their roles include providing for their family aka bread winners, the decision maker, the bread winner and the unemotional type. Women however are mother figures, emotional, their duties include being housewives. There are often stereotypical views of women such as men making the joke to women such as get back to the kitchen or women are bad drivers, or men or doesn’t act ‘masculine’ are considered feminine. Parents still unintentionally are sex-typing their children with gifts. Parents assume blue for boys and pink for girls, present wise boys are often bought games and trainers and girls are bought babies, barbies and makeup.

Sigmund Freud studied a theory called Psychodynamic. This theory sees the role of the family crucial in shaping a child’s/person gender identity in which many cases is the mother. Girl’s often feel connected to their mother because of their biological features. The boys however feel biological different to their mother because they do not share the same features. The boy’s developed gender identity because of this reason. In Georg Herbert Mead theory, he studied symbolic interactionism. This theory is based purely off communication in order to understand gender identity. Girls were told messages such as ‘sit up straight like lady’, and boys told ‘gentlemen open the doors for others’.

However, this isn’t true university. In many cultures the roles of men and women are very different compared to the western world. An example of this is the Samoan tribe. A Fa’afafine is a person with the body of a man, but identity’s themselves as female and even though they have sex with a man it does not make them gay and is considered a heterosexual relationship. For the Samoan tribe, family means everything, and their choice is more important than an individual choice. The Samoan family choses their child’s sex based on their personality despite the anatomy the child has. Work duties are defined clearly in Samoan society, women job consist of household duties however, if there are not enough females to do the house work, they will raise a man as a Fa’afafine. Fa’afafine are considered better than women, they are considered the ‘third gender’ in which are better than both men and women at household duties. This is because the Samoan tribe is giving them a place in society.

In conclusion, both men and women still to this day are expected to act a certain way in order to fit in with society. Even though society is changing in which we have become very accepting of people, most people will have a clear idea on what both men and women should behave. Gender and sex is not defined by what we biologically have, it is the way we feel inside.


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Sex Typing And Gender Identity. (2021, September 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from
“Sex Typing And Gender Identity.” Edubirdie, 09 Sept. 2021,
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