Discuss the Role of Hormones and/or Genes in Gender Development

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Discuss the role of hormones and/or genes in gender development. (8 + 16 marks)

Biological sex is determined by genes, which are on chromosomes. Humans generally have 23 pairs of chromosomes, one pair of which determines sex. Females have an XX pair while males have an XY pair. Chromosomal sex largely controls how masculine or feminine the egg's development will be.

Chromosomal sex controls whether an embryo will develop ovaries or testes. The SRY gene on the Y chromosome which only males possess will cause the gonad (the organ which produces sex cells) to develop into testes; a female's gonad will develop into ovaries due to the absence of the SRY gene. External genitalia strongly influences gender development, through the effects
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The study by Reiner and Gearhart has a small sample, and so the results from this study may also be invalid.

Another problem is that much of the research in this area is done on people with intersex conditions. The results of these studies should therefore only be applied to the general population with caution, as they may only be applicable to people with intersex conditions. These people may, for example, adhere more to social norms than the general population as they have to try harder to fit in. Research into such personal and potentially painful issues also has the potential to cause psychological harm, an ethical issue which should be avoided.

Although biological factors are important to gender development, other factors are also key. For example, Dessens et al. studied 250 genetic females who were prenatally exposed to high levels of androgens but still raised female. 95% were content with their female gender, with only 5% experiencing significant gender dysphoria. This shows that other factors are important to gender development. This is one main criticism of the biological approach: it is too reductionist.

This research has real-world applications. For a long time, the Olympic Committee ruled that people with XX chromosomes must compete in female events while people with XY chromosomes must compete in male events. However, due research on gender development there was a ruling in 1991 that genetic sex would no longer determine entry
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