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Gender Identity

What is gender?

It is a term related to the “sex” characteristic that has evolved over time as society changes.

  • Sex refers to the biological or genetic makeup – of being a male or female
  • Gender is a technical term that refers to the psychological or behavioral characteristics associated with males or females
  • Gender Identity describes a person’s main belief or sense of belonging to one sex, the ability to correctly discriminate male from female and to identify one’s own gender status of maleness or femaleness
  • Gender Role to the perceived acceptable behaviors, attitudes and personality traits that differentiate maleness (masculine) or femaleness (feminine) in a given culture or society

Is sex and gender different?

Your biology determines your sex i.e. male or female. Only females can give birth and only males can produce sperms. You are thinking about gender when you think of what it means to be a girl or a boy in our society. You may be thinking of behavior codes that society has given to boys and girls, men and women e.g.:

  • The way males and females should be dressed
  • How males and females should behave
  • What the choice of career should be
  • How males and females should interact with one another

How do gender roles develop?

From the day we are born, society determines your gender roles.

What is the first question you asked if you heard someone just had a baby? Yes, you would ask “is it a boy or a girl”?

If you decide to buy clothes for the baby, would you give a boy something in pink? You would probably choose pink for a girl but not for a boy. The child now has grown and you want to buy him a present. What would you choose?

Will you give dolls to a boy? As the child grows up, he or she would look towards their parents for the gender role identification. Fathers would be the role model for the sons and mothers for daughters.

As the child becomes an adult, the society then becomes a strong influencing factor in further development of his/her gender identity.

Are girls and boys equal? Are we equal?

Boys and girls, males and females have equal rights. For example – equal rights:

  • For food, water and a home
  • To education
  • To make decisions

But having equal rights does not mean that there are no differences.

  • Girls may be better at certain things
  • Boys are better at others

Gender differences towards a better world

It is very crucial for health that we accept ourselves for who we are. It is important that both males and females work together to:

  • Expand our individual potential
  • Develop our society
  • Help make this world a better place

“There is a great future out there for both boys and girls.”

Last Reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Nazrila Hairizan Binti Nasir
Reviewer : Dr. Mazni Bt. Mat Junus