Durso (2000) states that the term gender identity is used to mean someone’s way of identifying themselves as female or male, in accordance with physical body characteristics, conduct and other aspects in the life of a human being. In humans, gender identity happens early in life as from two to three years and it is predisposed by a blend of biological and sociological factors toughened during teenage years. Once established, the gender identified is subscribed to for life. Gender identity as a process by people is unconscious; it is in the part of people. Every person is born with a gender identity, a woman, man or even in between. Usually people do not have a choice of whether to become a man or woman, but it is inherent characteristic. It crucial to emphasize that gender identity is very important in the lives of human beings. It is of essence that someone is able to at least identify him or herself as female or male.
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To start with, Friedrichs (2005) asserts that gender identity is important as it plays an important role in determining of gender roles for people in a society. Gender roles refer to duties, ways they do and perceptions to life that are anticipated of a man or a woman in a society. Murrell and Dietz-Uhler (2006) argue that traditionally women’s place in society has been domestic chores like cooking and child care whereas men hunted and gathered for food. This gender role comes into play at work places, homes and even learning institutions. Always there is this notion that female is the weak gender and therefore they do the jobs that requires less energy. On the other hand, men are masculine and energetic and are therefore expected to do energy demanding jobs. The parents play a crucial role as role models for their male and female children. They teach their children the behavior and attitudes that are expected of the respective sex and some times the traditional definitions of femaleness and maleness comes into play to establish roles acceptablefor each gender. Issues to do with gender role have an effect on people’s lives for good. In cases of failure by someone to stick to his or her expected roles, or he or she does not comfortable with the role, conflict arise.
Secondly, gender identity is critical in building person sexuality. Just like gender itself, sexuality is also inherent in a person and it makes a female or male to become homosexual, heterosexual, asexual or bisexual. This largely relies on the individual that one is attracted to.
Additionally, Butt (1997), says that the feeling of womanly or manly is important to young people in helping them to stick to cultural principles of maleness and femaleness. Gender identity is very important and essential for children to posses a safe sense of self as feminine or male. Researchers have also found out that persons whose conduct corresponded to the gender role prescriptions were more prone to be expressively well attuned since they would be sensing a psychological call to subscribe to socialized traditional principles of gender.
Another importance of gender identity is that it helps in coming up with mental connections of people’s behaviors e.g. how they walk; dress etc to either women or men. These mental connections could be conceptualized and be used as standards community would use to measure whether they were satisfactory representatives of their sex grouping. Gender identity is an indicator of the extent of people’s gender mental connectedness and hoe they subscribe to traditional set gender norms.
Gender identity comes with gender expression. Gender expression refers to the way people put themselves before the wider globe. This depends on their gender role. The gender expression is all about the way people put on dress and other decorations. These go a long way in determining desirability and relationships. Our gender identity enables us to point out the clothing that is meant for maale and that one for female whereas gender expression guide us to choose clothing style that shows the entire world of who we are (George, 2003).
Friedrichs (2005) explains that gender identity is a process that happens early in child’s life. This is usually during the period of one and a half and three years. Gender identity is also very important as it leads to gender stability. Gender stability is the process where by female get to realize that they will grow to be women; that they cannot grow the manhood. In gender stability, the little boys get to settle with the fact that their manhood will not disappear, and that they van never develop female genitalia and grow to be women. This is vital process in children’s development
Lastly, gender identity is key to parents during parenting. Once the parents identify their children as either male or female, they will nurture their children in a way that is in line with their specific gender. For example male children are taught to behave like men do whereas female are taught to behave like women do. It provides an opportunity for parents to correct any gender identity disorder /transgender early in life. Correction of gender identity disorders by self or involving specialists (Durso, 2000).
In conclusion, it has to be once again reiterated that gender identity is a very important process in the life of young children. Gender identity helps the child to develop gender roles. This means that the child with proper gender identity will behave and do the things that are socially and culturally meant for the gender he/she belongs to. Children also get to develop their sexuality. By being male or female, they become either heterosexual or homosexual. Additionally gender identity is as much important as enabling children develop gender expression. Gender guides the choice of children would like to dress, talk, and present themselves before the world as dictated by their gender (Butt, 1997).