The Gender Debate Shawn Simmons Grand Canyon University Contemporary and Ethical Issues in Psychology 510 Michael Kellam August 29, 2012 The Gender Debate When a small boy puts on a girls clothing and wants to play with Barbie dolls the reaction might one of alarm. When a little girl refuses to play dress up or house parents may give up all hope of having grandchildren. The response to this type of behavior is to stop the child from engaging in the wrong gender type of play, and reinforce it with praise when they play a game that is gender specific.
The reason that there are those that would try this method of action is because there are those that believe that gender identity is something that is learned. The purpose of this paper is to show that gender identity is something that is biological, by presenting debate statements that support this claim. Statement 1: The brain can be wired for homosexuality The human brain is one of the most complex organisms known to man. It is arguably one of the most important organs that compose the human body. Everything that we are, our memories, talents, fears, inside jokes and much more are all stored inside our mind.
Our desires are no different, they are found there as well. According to Paul Fitzgerald, brain chemistry can determine how an individual sees people of the same and opposite gender (Fitzgerald, 2008). The specific chemicals are serotonin and norepinephrine. In this case having a significant amount serotonin with low levels of norepinephrine can cause an individual’s senses to be duller than that of an individual with baser levels. Fitzgerald points to this because of the effects of anti-depressants some of which are meant to raise the levels of norepinephrine are able to make a person senses feel sharper or more vivid.
In monkeys and in humans the chemicals of a serotonin strong mind, indicate a strong alpha male personality. The purpose is to make most senses weaker in order for the alpha to be focused. The effects of this in a human brain (when altered by drugs) are a difference in recognition of facial expression. For example, before medication an individual has no trouble recognizing expressed sadness, but afterwards they do. Fitzgerald argues that the same process can be applied to recognizing and interacting with people of the same or opposite gender.
Norepinephrine would be the winning chemical in the brain of a homosexual individual making them inclined to respond favorably toward members of the same gender. The main problem with this argument is that while Fitzgerald clearly knows what the chemicals effects on the human mind are, and how they work in animals, but there is no direct study to aid in his claim. He made a case for what we already know about these chemicals and cite many sources however he lacks the results that might have very quickly put an end to the debate. Statement 2: Homosexuality is found in evolution
A common question that is asked in this debate is ‘how does homosexuality survive in evolution? ’ This question is seemingly the strongest question one can ask, if one supports gender difference being socially determined. This is not the case as there are several equally valid ways in which homosexuals thrive. All those cases cannot be explored due to time however the case made by R. C Kirkpatrick will be explored here. Kirkpatrick argues that early humans have always engaged in alliance behaviors that were homosexual in nature (Kirkpatrick, 2000).
The reasoning for his argument is that alliance of this sort would allow for competition for resources to be relived. In Mayan culture for example, homosexual alliance was used to help establish and maintain households. Homosexual acts between females and males in other cultures have acted as alliance negotiators. In these cases it is also important to note that in many of these cultures homosexuals had children. So children were born to these homosexual community builders. Children were likely to have been brought about because of the traditional marrying off of children by their parents.
Homosexuals are able to reproduce in these societies and that is what is important to take away. The problem one might have with this argument is that since the homosexual alliance adults also were capable of having children were they really homosexual in the first place? In this case the answer would have to be yes. Social pressure as well as traditional commitments and legitimate need would have led to those individual eventually finding a mate of the opposite gender. It is important to note, that the purpose is to show how homosexuality could have evolved, not judge how homosexual an individual could be.
Statement 3: Gender identity cannot be taught One could argue that throughout time there has been ample opportunity for homosexuality to have been taught. One famous researcher who championed this cause was psychologist John Money. In 1966 Money was presented with the case of an eight year old whom through a botched circumcision had his penis damaged beyond repair. Money believed as Stephen Pinker maintains in his book The Blank Slate, nature as an argument was maintaining a political status quo policy (Pinker, 2002).
Money had the parents raise the boy as a girl, and getting them to install an artificial vagina and keep the story of his birth a secret. A New York Times article even reported that the child was doing well despite those events. In 1997, however, it was revealed that the young girl never took to being a girl at all. “Brenda,” rejected traditional girl toys in favor of boy toys, refused to wear dresses and even insisted on peeing standing up. Brenda would only make it to fourteen before a suicide attempt would lead to the revelation by the parents that she was a boy (“CBC News,” 2004).
Brenda, now Brian had went through surgery to live as a boy. He would eventually marry a woman; in 2004 he would commit suicide presumably from his difficult relationships with his family, wife and the death of his brother all taking a toll. This case shows that there is a definite argument against social factors determining gender identity. Even with a child who was socially constructed to take on a different gender role Brian rejected his chosen role in favor of his biological one in every aspect of interaction including peeing.
This shows that forcing a child to practice any type of gender specific role will result in rejection. There is very little opposition to this as an argument because the experiment is now considered unethical for how unstable Brian’s life would be. Statement 4: The Bible does not speak to science It is strange that it has to be said that the bible does not speak to any scientific question. It is the case that Christians are one of the main political groups who maintain that gender is determined by social factors.
The Bible is the main source that they use to determine their opinion on this matter. Because of that it is worth addressing within this debate paper. Many Christian cite the verses in the bible that has to do with homosexuality LEV 18:12 (NLT). However it should be known that laws of the bible are not relatable to the laws of the country or the modern time. The bible is full of many wrong scientific findings. When someone tries to use the bible in order to argue against someone being born homosexual, they are not realizing that they are making moral argument.
Moral arguments have no place in scientific debate. Conclusion Gender identity is still an issue that remains unresolved. While I believe it to be biological there is little doubt that there is a lot that there needs to be a significant amount of improvements. That work needs to happen. Until it does Gender identity will remain a topic of debate because of the number of people who protest on both sides of this debate. The best bet for all sides is to let people be happy however they chose to be.
References David Reimer the boy who lived as a girl. (2004). Retrieved from http://www. cbc. ca/news/background/reimer/ Fitzgerald, P. (2008, March). A neurotransmitter system theory of sexual orientation. Journal of Sexual Medicine , 5, 746-748. http://dx. doi. org/10. 1111/j. 1743-6109. 2007. 00693. x Kirkpatrick, R. C. (2000, June). The evolution of human homosexual behavior. Current Anthropology, 41, 385-415. http://dx. doi. org/10. 1086/300145 Pinker, S. (2002). The blank slate: the modern denial of human nature. Hudson Street, New York: Penguin Group.