Construction of an authentic gender identity

Francis Stevens, Tennessee State University


The purpose of the present study was to examine the process by which an individual forms his or her own personal gender identity. This includes examining if individuals go through a process of disidentification with their reference group norm that guides gender behavior. This is followed by a secondary process during which they question that gender role and move towards developing an authentic gender identity. An authentic gender identity is a state in which the individuals feel the most comfortable in expressing themselves and which allows them the highest potential for psychological functioning. Past research has indicated individuals may become more androgynous in their gender role as they develop through life. Males incorporate more feminine characteristics into their masculine identity with age (Hyde, Krajnik & Skuldt-Niederberger, 1991). Harter, Waters, & Whitesell (1997) found females reaching their highest potential in school show more androgynous characteristics. Some researchers have suggested that ability to identify with multiple sex roles is enabled through ego development (Costos, 1986, 1990). Results of this study examine whether individuals with an authentic gender identity experience less psychological distress than those with an inauthentic gender identity, and what affects do non-traditional vs. traditional gender roles play in psychological distress of individuals with authentic gender identity. Lastly, the sources of psychological distress are examined between those with an authentic gender identity in a nontraditional gender role, authentic identity in a traditional role, inauthentic identity in a non-traditional gender role and an inauthentic identity in a traditional gender role.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Francis Stevens, "Construction of an authentic gender identity" (2009). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3387164.