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Transgender, Cisgender: Where does gender identity come from?

“What causes a person to be transgender”? You might as well ask the question, “What causes a person to be (a) gender?” These questions ask the exact same thing.

If you are a cisgender person wanting to understand what causes a person to be transgender, then ask yourself, “What causes me to identify as the gender I am?” The answer goes to the heart of the gender “identity” — what makes a person know “the gender” that person is and what makes a person cisgender or transgender, comes from the same “root”.

For a cisgender person, the answer may be easy: look down and you have your answer. But this answer does not tell the whole story. We look down because this is the easiest way for cisgender people to get an answer, and since our self-identification is congruent with our observation, we don’t further question. But what if our self-identification is not congruent with our observation?

Then let’s examine this “root” or “roots”. In other words, What is the origin of gender identity?

We know from empirical evidence that “biology” with its “male” and “female” hormones, do not dictate gender identity. There are biological males and females who identify with the other gender. Along with biology, is the genetics and epigenetics consideration: perhaps a set of genes contribute in whole or in part a “gender identity”. Genetics determine gender from a biochemical perspective, but I don’t know of any evidence that suggests genetics determine “gender identity”.

Biology and attendant hormones do not “cause” gender identity, even though hormones certainly shape the gender experience.

Cordelia Fine’s book, Delusions of Gender describes copious evidence that gender identity is socially reinforced. The book shows how even the most conscientious parents who want to raise their children “gender neutral” are not immune to reinforcing gender biases. Delusions of Gender is persuasive in arguing that society drives the parameters of gender conformity but does not examine the origin of “gender identity”.

Social and cultural rules do not dictate gender identity, even though society and culture drive conformity of gender behaviors.

What about psychological and neurological factors? Cisgender people do not deal with psychological or neurological issues around their gender identity, because “gender identity” is not even a thought — it is a knowing that is reinforced by and congruent with their biological and social/cultural experiences. Psychological and neurological considerations arise primarily when a person’s gender identity do not align with biological sex, and even then, are considerations imposed by others (people who decide that “something is wrong”).

I don’t view psychology and neurology as determinants of gender identity, even though both are used as factors when society impose “rights and wrongs” about gender identity.

Now I am left with a phenomenological dimension as the origin of gender identity. The very origin of your conscious knowing that “you” are “you” is also the origin of your gender identity.

In other words, strip away physical properties (Homo sapiens) and social conditioning (gender) and cultural constructs (role) of what and who you are.

How do you still know “who” you are?

That which creates the conscious quality you self-identity as “Me”, gives rise to your “gender identity”.

This conscious quality, within which gender identity resides, emerges independently of biology, society, and culture.

Just as this conscious quality that lets you self-identify as “Me”, emerges independently of biology, society, and culture.

What we are seeing as “gender identity” are really products of biology, society, and culture ACTING UPON the original conscious quality, and assigning a moral value to a phenomenon.

When there is agreement between gender identity and biological/social/culture influences, we don’t think twice about “gender identity” even as we may debate on the frameworks that society and culture have on “gender roles/rules”.

When there is disagreement between gender identity and biological/social/culture influences, we have heated arguments about the “right or wrong” about gender identity, when the real “rights or wrongs” remain with the frameworks that society and culture have on “gender roles/rules”.

Gender Identity is part of Consciousness.

Updated: June 22, 2016 — 12:00 pm

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