Gender Development and Sexual Differentiation
Sexual differentiation, in human embryology, the process by which the male and female sexual organs develop from neutral embryonic structures. The normal human fetus of either sex has the potential to develop either male or female organs, depending on genetic and hormonal influences. (sexual differentiation 2021)
Brittanica explains it quite professionally and scientifically in this definition but basically all this means is that the human person while still being developed inside the mother can become either male or female depending on some things. What are those things you might ask? Chromosomes and autosomes are the things. They determine gender. We have tons of em. And lots of different types that do different things at different stages of development.
Once a bundle of cells becomes a fetus, it will have structures that could become either male or female genitalia. Weird huh? What makes the difference is the addition of the chromosomes that create the masculine or feminine component. Masculine will have an X and y Chromosome and female will have 2 XX.
Gender is socially constructed?
Well I guess if we are all made of the same stuff all the way up until the last part of embryonic development then it would be safe to say that gender as we know it may have more to do with societal interpretations rather than X and Y chromosomes. Some of the things that begin to help us differentiate ourselves as either male or female during human development are:
- Types of clothing/things/toys
- Colors of clothing/things/toys
- Gender specific names
- Usage of makeup or not
- Job types
- The pronouns that have been used to describe us
- Facial and body features that were gendered
- Potty training time
- TV or social influences
- Hair styles
This and much more are some of the moments that allowed our own brain to form our understanding of our gender being either male or female. That being said, we would then take an even deeper dive into our personal and societal roles as a woman or a man and what behavior and actions we must exhibit in order to be the understood gender.
So It seems gender may be a journey from Chromosomal influence all the way to young adult hood. As we put on X’s or Y’s , pink or blue, Pants or Skirts, work or nurture our children; gender is being developed. Maybe we used to think gender was only skin deep but now we know thanks to the understanding of Sexual differentiation that gender is more like “cell deep” lol. But also an evolutionary journey of self development from the inside out.
So in conclusion, yes proof of our gender can be found deep down in our DNA but also social constructs come into play and help to shape us into the “man” or “woman” we are today.
Utiger, Robert D.. “Sexual differentiation”. Encyclopedia Britannica, 3 Dec. 2018, https://www.britannica.com/science/sexual-differentiation. Accessed 9 April 2021. (sexual differentiation 2021)