Gender Identity and Role of Family: Gender identity refers to a person’s subjective and deeply felt sense of their own gender, which may or may not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender identity can influence how a person sees themselves, how they relate to others, and how they express themselves. It is important to recognize and respect each person’s gender identity as it is an integral part of their individuality and self-expression.
Question: What do you understand by Gender Identity? Describe the role of family and media in the construction of gender identity.
INTRODUCTION (Gender Identity)
Gender identity is how someone feels about themselves as a boy, girl, both, or neither. It is different from biological sex, which is based on the body parts you are born with. Gender identity is an internal experience that individuals feel and it may not always align with the gender they were assigned at birth.
For instance, a person born male may feel like a girl inside, and someone born female may feel like another. Gender identity is integral to a person’s identity, and everyone deserves respect for their authentic selves.
In other words, gender identity is the personal sense of one’s own gender. It identity is the internal sense of being male, female, both, or neither, regardless of assigned biological sex. Gender identity is an inherent aspect of an individual’s identity, separate from biological sex or sexual orientation.
It can also be a fluid and evolving concept that may change over time. Gender identity is a significant facet of human diversity, and everyone deserves respect and fair treatment based on their gender identity.
Definitions of Gender Identity
American Psychological Association (APA)The American Psychological Association (APA) defines gender identity as “one’s sense of oneself as male, female, or non-binary (i.e., neither male nor female).”
World Health Organization (WHO)According to the World Health Organization (WHO), gender identity is “an individual’s self-identification as male, female, a blend of both, or neither.”
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental DisordersThe Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) defines gender identity as “a marked and persistent incongruence between an individual’s experienced/expressed gender and their assigned gender, manifested by a strong desire to be treated as the other gender or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender, and/or a strong desire to rid oneself of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics and/or a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender.”
Role of Family in the Construction of Gender Identity
A family usually consists of people who are blood relatives, married, or adopted and live together, sharing resources. Families can come in various forms, such as nuclear, extended, single-parent, blended families, and others.
The idea of family can include close friends, neighbors, and others who offer emotional and practical support to one another. Families can play a significant role in shaping an individual’s development, including their gender identity.
Family plays an important role in the development of a child’s gender identity. Here are some ways in which family can influence a child’s gender identity:
Children often learn gender roles and behaviors through observing the behaviors of their parents and other family members. For example, a child may learn what it means to be a “man” or a “woman” by watching how their parents or other family members behave, dress, and interact with each other.
2. Socialization or Gender Socialization
Family members can socialize a child into gender roles by encouraging certain behaviors that are traditionally associated with being male or female. This can include things like encouraging boys to be strong and assertive, and girls to be submissive and caring.
Family members can teach children about gender roles and expectations through their interactions, expectations, and attitudes toward them.
For example, parents may provide toys, clothes, and activities that are traditionally associated with a specific gender, reinforcing gender stereotypes and expectations.
How the family members respond to a child’s gender identity can have a significant impact on their development. When parents and other family members accept a child’s gender identity, the child is more likely to develop a positive sense of self and feel supported in their identity.
4. Exposure to diversity
Families that expose their children to a diverse range of gender expressions and identities can help broaden their understanding of gender and reduce the likelihood of stereotypes or biases forming.
The language that family members use to describe gender can also have an impact on a child’s gender identity. For example, using gender-neutral language can help to reinforce the idea that there are many ways to express gender and that it is not limited to just male or female.
Talking openly and honestly about gender and gender identity can help children to better understand their own feelings and experiences. Family members can help to facilitate these conversations by being open-minded, asking questions, and providing accurate information.
Supportive families can shield children with non-conforming gender identities from the negative consequences of social stigma and discrimination. Support can take various forms, such as using the child’s preferred name and pronouns, advocating for their rights, and providing access to resources and support networks.
Parenting refers to the act of raising a child and providing them with love, care, support, and guidance as they grow and develop. It involves a wide range of activities, including feeding, clothing, teaching, disciplining, and nurturing a child’s emotional and social well-being.
Parents may enforce gender roles and expectations on their children through their behavior and expectations of their children’s behavior.
Role of Media in the Construction of Gender Identity
Media refers to various forms of communication that are used to reach a large audience, such as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, social media, and other digital platforms.
The term media can be used to share information, news, entertainment, and advertising with the public. Media has a significant influence on society and culture, and it can shape how people perceive the world, including their understanding of gender and gender identity.
Media can play a significant role in the construction of gender identity. Here are some ways in which media can influence the development of gender identity:
The representation of gender in media can shape how children see themselves and others. For example, if girls only see women in stereotypical roles, such as homemakers or passive love interests, it can limit their aspirations and reinforce traditional gender roles.
Media can reinforce gender stereotypes through the portrayal of characters and the use of language. For example, the media tends to portray boys as aggressive and tough, while portraying girls as nurturing and passive. This reinforces harmful gender stereotypes that can limit the choices and opportunities of both boys and girls.
Advertising often reinforces gender stereotypes and can perpetuate the idea that certain products and activities are only appropriate for one gender. This can influence how children perceive themselves and what they feel is acceptable behavior for their gender.
4. Role models
Media can provide positive role models for children of different genders, which can influence their sense of self and aspirations. For example, seeing strong and successful women in media can help girls develop a sense of self-efficacy and encourage them to pursue their goals.
5. Social comparison
Children often use media to compare themselves to others, and this can influence their sense of identity. For example, if a child sees a particular gender represented as more successful or desirable in media, they may feel pressure to conform to those gender norms.
Media can also contribute to the sexualization of certain gender identities. For example, The media often portrays girls and women as sexual objects, reinforcing the harmful idea that their worth is based solely on their physical appearance.
7. Normalization of violence
Media can also normalize violence against certain gender identities. For example, there is a tendency in media to portray men as using violence as a means of problem-solving or gaining power. This reinforces damaging gender norms and can contribute to a culture of violence.
8. LGBTQ+ representation
Media can also influence the development of gender identity for LGBTQ+ youth. Positive representation of LGBTQ+ characters in media can help LGBTQ+ youth develop a positive sense of identity and reduce feelings of isolation and stigma.
9. Lack of representation
The lack of representation of certain gender identities in media can also contribute to the marginalization of those groups. For example, the underrepresentation of women and people of color in media can contribute to the idea that certain identities are less valuable or important.
10. Media literacy
It is important for individuals to develop media literacy skills so that they can critically analyze and evaluate media messages about gender. This includes being able to recognize stereotypes and biases in media, understanding the impact of media on the development of gender identity, and being able to resist harmful messages.
Family and media can both play significant roles in the construction of gender identity through socialization, modeling, representation, stereotyping, advertising, role models, and social comparison. It is important for both families and media producers to be aware of the messages they are sending about gender and to create more inclusive and diverse representations of gender to allow for greater acceptance of different gender identities.
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