Describe and evaluate the biological explanation of Gender

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Describe and evaluate the biological explanation of Gender (24)

The biological approach of gender development believes that an individual’s gender is decided at the same time that their sex is decided. An individual’s gender is influenced by their chromosomes and hormones. The pair of sex chromosomes dictates whether the foetus will be male or female. These are present from conception. The female chromosome pair is XX and the male chromosome pair is XY. At about 6 weeks, the SRY gene on the Y chromosome causes the gonads (sex organs) of the embryo to develop as testes. Without the SRY gene, the gonads will develop as ovaries. As they develop, they begin to secrete sex specific hormones into the body which masculinise or feminise the foetus.

Hormones are chemicals produced by the body that affect cells and organs. Males and females have the same hormones; it is just the levels that differ. Oestrogen and progesterone are the hormones, which dominate female development. Testosterone is the hormone, which is predominating in males. Besides affecting the functioning of various bodily organs, these hormones are linked with sex-specific behaviours such as aggressiveness (from the secretion of testosterone) and spatial awareness (from the secretion of oestrogen). In addition, androgens (male sex hormones) physically cause the male brain to develop differently from the female, affecting the gender of the individual, e.g. masculinising or feminising. For example, a male usually identifies with a masculine gender identity because he has XY chromosomes and high levels of testosterone, which leads to sex-specific traits such as aggressiveness.

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A study, which supports the role of hormones and thus the biological explanation of gender, is Young (1966). He changed the sexual behaviour of both male and female rats by manipulating the amount of female and male hormones that rats received during their early development. They displayed “reversed” sexual behaviour. Young believed that the exposure had changed the sexually dimorphic nucleus.  This shows support for the biological explanation of Gender because the alteration of hormones can affect gender characteristics. For example, when females were given male hormones, they displayed male gender behaviours, rather than feminine, which you would expect in ...

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