On Gender Identity

Gender identity is one’s personal sense of being a man or a woman, consisting primarily of the acceptance of membership into a category of people: man, woman, other, or none.

Every Person has a Gender Identity.

Gender Identity is comprised of two parts: Social Sex Identity and Physical Sex Identity. Gender identity is a key component of an individual’s formation of personal identity, self identity and Self awareness. It exists as a fundamental part of awareness of self, and it is, itself, an awareness, without which, there is no self identity.

Gender identity is usually formed by age three and is extremely difficult to change after that, finishing the process between the ages of four and six. A three year old can identify themselves as a boy or a girl, though they do not yet fully understand the implications of gender.

  • Stein MT, Zucker KJ, Dixon SD. December, 1997. “Gender Identity”, The Nurse Practitioner. Vo. 22, No. 12
  • D’orsay, A. E. “The Liberation of Transness”, December, 2014
  • Newmann, Barbara. Development Through Life: A Psychosocial Approach. Cengage Learning
  • Martin, C.; Ruble, D. (2004). “Children’s Search for Gender Cues Cognitive Perspectives on Gender Development”. Current Directions in Psychological Science

In Human Rights

The Yogyakarta Principles, which is a document on application of international human rights law, provides definition on gender identity.

In the preamble, “gender identity” is understood to refer to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the person’s sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other experience of gender, including dress, speech and mannerism.

Further, in Principle 3, that “each person’s self-defined gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom. No one shall be forced to undergo medical procedures, including sex reassignment surgery, sterilization or hormonal therapy, as a recognition of their gender identity.”

In Principle 18, that “Notwithstanding any classifications to the contrary, a person’s gender identity are not, in and of themselves, medical conditions are not to be treated, cured or suppressed.”

Relating to this Principles, “Jurisprudential Annotations to the Yogyakarta Principles” states that “Gender identity differing from that assigned at birth, or socially rejected gender expression, have been treated as a form of mental illness. The pathologization of difference has led to gender-transgressive children and adolescents being confined in psychiatric institutions, and subjected to aversion techniques -including electroshock therapy – as a “cure”“.


The biochemical theory of gender identity suggests that we acquire our gender identities through genetic and hormonal factors rather than through socialisation. In addition to the hormonal influences on gender identity, genes also play a significant role.

  • Diamond, Milton (2002). “Sex and Gender are Different: Sexual Identity and Gender Identity are Different”. Clinical Child Psychology & Psychiatry
  • Blackless, Melanie; Besser, M., Carr, S., Cohen-Kettenis, P.T., Connolly, P., De Sutter, P., Diamond, M., Di Ceglie, D. (Ch & Adol.), Higashi, Y., Jones, L., Kruijver. F.P.M., Martin, J., Playdon, Z-J., Ralph, D., Reed, T., Reid, R., Reiner, W.G., Swaab, D., Terry, T., Wilson, P., Wylie. K. (2003). “Atypical Gender Development – A Review”. International Journal of Transgenderism
  • Blackless, Melanie; Anthony Charuvastra; Amanda Derryck; Anne Fausto-Sterling; Karl Lauzanne; Ellen Lee (February 2000). “How sexually dimorphic are we? Review and synthesis”. American Journal of Human Biology
  • Birke, Lynda. The Gender and Science Reader.
  •  Ghosh, Shuvo. “Gender Identity”. MedScape