Gender Formation Theory

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For their part, the research of Reiner and Gearhart (2004) focuses primarily on the social aspects of gender formation theory (Reiner & Gearhart, 2004). Studying genetic males with cloacal exstrophy provides a unique opportunity to determine the effects of social pressures on gender identity formation in children. According to Reiner and Gearhart, the condition causes the exposure of organs in the lower abdomen to contamination, including the penis in males and the clitoris in females, affecting 1 out of every 400,000 live births (Reiner & Gearhart, 2004). As a result of this, many genetic males are surgically reassigned to female at birth (Reiner & Gearhart, 2004). As mentioned above, the study focused on 16 genetic males with cloacal exstrophy. …show more content…

The other 8 children had male identities (Reiner & Gearhart, 2004). On a practical level, the results are fascinating. This study clearly shows that there is more to gender identity in children than their anatomy. After all, more than 60% of the children in the study declared their gender to be male at some point (Table 1). Furthermore, the fact that subjects 7 and 8 went from a declared male identity to an unclear identity over the course of 84 and 59 months, respectively, indicates that gender identity in children may be driven, in part, by social pressures and expectations, at least when those pressures are in direct conflict with what a child feels (Table 1). However, the fact that neither child had a female identity goes to show that social pressure, though influential, is not everything when it comes to gender identity. Further proving this, 5 of the originally female children switched to male by the time of their last follow-up, going against the social pressures expected of them as girls. It is also worth noting that all 8 self-identified males expressed a desire to undergo gender reassignment surgery to become anatomical males (Reiner & Gearhart,

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