Sydney Counselling, Relationship Counselling, Sex Therapy

Gender Identity

Gender identity is a sense of awareness, usually beginning in infancy and continuing throughout childhood and reaching maturity in adolescence, of being male or female (Oxford Dictionary of Psychology p.300).

Gender is complex and controversial. Gender is a set of stereotypes based on our beliefs about the characteristics of men and women. For instance, if the stereotype of a man is that he is the one who washes the car and does the mowing, does that mean that a woman who does the same activity has a gender identity problem. Alternatively, does it mean that the woman is gay? On the other hand, does it simply mean that the woman likes a clean car and gardening? Alternatively, does it mean that she needs to do so because her partner (male) is ill?

Gender identity refers to the various femininities and masculinities that characterise various cultures and subcultures. It is the central organising of the mind.

Gender identity, that which the mind believes, can and often does create great inner turmoil and conflict in individuals who may see themselves as biological male but psychologically female – and vice versa. Typical estimates that there are 1 in 30,000 men and 1 in 100,000 women are gender dysphoric ( a state of dissatisfaction or anxiety) to varying degrees have been stated (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). It is unclear why this condition is more prevalent amongst males, but at least one study found more extreme cross-gender behaviour among girls (Zucker, Bradley, & Sanikhani, 1997 in Galliano G. 2003, Gender Crossing Boundaries, Thomson Wadsworth, Australia p.274).

Gender identity and gender dysphoria can have a major impact in any relationship. Often partners or married couples break up when gender issues about their partner or spouse arise. The emotional turmoil can be extreme to the extent that suicide may have been or is contemplated, and specialised support is required to help individuals and couples through those most trying of times. This is when Sydney Counselling and Life Coaching can help.