“Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human.” This was taken from the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s speech delivered on International Human Rights Day at the United Nations Head Quarters in Geneva. This will bring some questions into the minds of general public? What is the gender identity of LGBT community? What does it mean by sexual differentiation and gender identity? What factors influence them? How biological factors, nature, environmental influences and nurture effect on them? It’s the time to find answers to those questions.
In the movie “Danish Girl,” which was based on a book written by David Ebershoff, the author is trying to bring out some of the answers to the above questions. The movie starts with some foreseen clues to the answers we are looking for our questions. The first one minute of the movie brings out some scenic views of nature; snow covered mountains, gusty breeze, lakes filled with water, etc. Suddenly, there comes 5 trees standing up tall amidst the gusty winds. But if you noticed none of those trees have leaves and have skinny shapes as a survival adaptation to the windy environment. This will provide a hint to the viewers that nature creates an impact on every living thing. Is that the only factor that effect Sexual differentiation and gender identity?
The movie revolves around two artists, Gerda Wegener and Elina Wegener and how their lives are going to effect by a simple request made by Gerda to her husband Elina to pose for a female model. This incident gives birth to the hidden sexual identity which was living inside Elina for fairly a long time which he used to name as “Lilly.” Day by day, with the help of some interpersonal and external factors, Lilly become stronger than Elina and at the end of the story Lilly kills Elina’s gender identity given at birth.
What are the factors that influenced Lilly to become stronger than Elina? Though Elina was assigned a male gender / sex at his birth, there were some signs to prove that there was a mismatch between his assigned sex and the gender identity. On the day Gerda asked Elina to pose as the model, the feminine character lying inside Elina’s body popped out. So it is evident that the author of the book or the Director of the movie is trying to make a connection between Elina or Lilly’s gender identity to the nurture and environmental influences. According to scientific findings sex characteristics are controlled by hormones such as Testosterone and lack of Testosterone hormone in brain during childhood arouses the feminine gender characteristics in boys. So it is evident that there is a biological effect in gender identity.
Similarly, according to scientific researches, environmental factors can create a significant impact on gender identity. For an example a boy’s room will be painted with blue paint and he may have manly toys, such as play cars, play trucks, play tools, etc. while a girl’s room will be painted in pink and her room will be filled with teddy bears, pretty dolls, culinary sets etc. This will create a gender identification and a gender differentiation in the minds of the children from their early stages in life. A sight of a boy wearing a frock or a boy playing with a pretty doll is considered not-natural. The day Lilly was kissed by Hans, she was wearing her Grandma’s apron and Elina express her feeling about the situation as “She fell for him.” This proves that Lilly lived inside Elina from his childhood and the environmental influences brought out the character of Lilly to the surface over Elina. Also, it is evident that Elina like to wear as Lilly most of the times and he was trying to imitate the gestures of women to sync his bodily appearance and features to the gender identity he preferred to accept. Unintentionally, Gerda asking him to dress as Lilly and providing the opportunity to bring out the Lilly lived inside Elina, increased the temptation of Elina to respond positively to the biological changes which was happening inside his body.
According to the movie and the scientific findings, gender differentiation or gender identity does not solely depend on one factor. All the factors such as biological, environmental, natural and nurture help in different percentages, where exact percentages are not clear, to create gender identity and gender differentiation. But in the movie, though Elina was born as a boy, he was nurtured as a girl in his childhood and at one later point of time in his life, where Gerda let Elina to act like a woman, that nurtured character take an upper hand in deciding his gender identity. As per my understanding nurture has a slight upper hand over nature, in the battle of “what has a greater impact on one’s gender identity and gender differentiation.”
Three basic factors that create a significant impact on gender identity and sexual identification has been in the battle field for decades to be the prime cause. They are biological factors, environmental influences, and nurture. In the first cause they argue biological factors, mainly genes, plays a significant impact on sexual identification. The normal genotype of a boy is 46XX and a girl is 46XY. At the same time hormones such as Cortisol can cause an impact on sexual identification. It is found that lack of Cortisol secretion can develop manly characteristics in women. Above factors helps to ascertain that biological factors has an impact on sexual identification. Is that the only thing that contributes to sexual identification? According to Darwin’s theory, dominant genes are selected by environmental factors and passed from generation to generation. The same principle applies to the genes that decided one’s sexual identification. According to Darwin, genes that are associated with male aggression and female genes that are associated with caring for babies were naturally selected and passed through generations and that made men to have an sexual identification as aggressive and women to have an sexual identification as mild and caring. Third cause is the “nurture” cause and according to that humans nurture their sexual identification with time. For an example it is common to see a baby boy is always dressed with blue and while a baby girl is dressed in pink. Many women nurses than male nurses, many male politician than female politicians etc are some examples for the effect of nurture in sexual identification.
Every human being has personality traits which are different from each other. I have some positive personality traits such as being friendly, peaceful, organized, and punctual and some negative personality traits such as being arrogant, mechanical, possessive, and prejudiced. Some of those personality traits such as being organized, being peaceful and being arrogant, I share with my siblings. Also we share some genetic traits and it was so astonished to find out that both me and my brother are color blind. But at the same time I am the only one in my family who is punctual and all the other member are not punctual. I believe I became punctual since I was the only member in my family who was raised in a school dormitory where we had to wok according to a time table which my other siblings were not exposed to. So the environmental factors affected to one of my personal traits.
At conclusion we can come up to an agreement that biological, natural, environmental influences and nurture has a direct impact on sexual differentiation and gender identification and their level or percentage of contribution to the cause varies from each other.