Gender Role Development Nature Vs Nurture Essay

Nature Vs. Nurture In Gender Identity

Matt Pelfini
Jonathan Weller
San Francisco Stories
13 February 2014
Nature vs Nurture
The idea of nature vs nurture when it comes to gender identity is a controversial and highly debated topic. However I feel that one side is supported by science and research, while the other is supported by unproven theories. We are all born with unique DNA, and this DNA is what makes us, us. While our society or environment can influence our views or thoughts, it cannot change our DNA; it cannot change us enough to make us question or physiological makeup.
Our gender identity comes from the our DNA; the nature side of this argument. However that is not to say that the environment we grow up in can’t affect our views. As children, we learned through observation and reproduction. We would watch others, our parents, teachers, peers, and then try and reproduce those actions. If a young boy sees his father at the gym lifting weights, or if a young girl sees her mom in the kitchen making dinner, these kids may try and follow in those same paths. In addition, with new technology, parents have an influence over their child long before they have been delivered. With ultrasound, parents can find out the sex of the baby, and then plan for the delivery based on the results. Gender specific names, clothes, toys, and even aspirations are prepared for the child before they even enter our world. So these kids arrive to an environment that is seemingly predetermined for them.
But at the end of the day, our physiological makeup will trump all social factors involved in gender identity. In the body, the ovaries and testes produce hormones, including androgen. The testes produce higher levels of androgen than the ovaries. (There are medical conditions where this is not the case, but in a healthy, normally functioning human being, it is). “If the levels of androgens are high, then a penis and scrotum will develop; if they are low, then labia and a clitoris will develop” (Birke, 310). Furthermore, in the early stages of fetal development hormones will enter the brain and affect how the hypothalamus works. If androgen levels are high, the hypothalamus will never organize into cycles, if they are low, it will be cyclic. This early brain influence has an effect on hormone secretion frequency later in life. As we know, women’s hormones follow a monthly cycle, while men’s do not. The idea of nature was supported with the case of David Reimer. When he was a baby, David underwent a faulty circumcision, and lost his male genitalia. A psychologist named James Money who believed in nurture over nature, convinced Reimer’s parents to raise him as a girl. For thirteen years, David lived as a female, but he never felt right. Although he grew up with girls clothes and played with girls toys, he always felt off. At age thirteen, he tried to commit suicide, and it wasn’t until then that...

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