Gender of rearing

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Gender of rearing is the gender in which parents rear a child. This is the gender assigned to the child by parents and doctors (usually based on the appearance of the external genitalia), and taught to the child. Aspects of rearing include choosing a name, providing clothes, toys, education, and opportunities which are sex-congruent for their culture. Gender of rearing includes both conscious and unconscious expectations and treatment of the child. Although all cultures rear boys differently from girls, specific differences vary greatly.

Nearly always, gender identity is congruent with the gender of rearing, but the nature of the relationship remains a subject of controversy. From the 1960s to the 1980s, it was thought that gender of rearing was the most important determinant of gender identity. This was based on the observation that many people with apparently comparable intersex conditions raised either male or female developed a gender identity consistent with their sex of rearing regardless of genetic, hormonal, and anatomic characteristics. This view was politically supported by the feminist ideological view that most psychological sex differences resulted from cultural differences in the rearing of boys and girls. In the last two decades, academic opinion has downgraded the degree to which gender of rearing is thought to contribute to gender identity and other aspects of psychosexual differentiation, especially in people with intersex conditions, since many intersex people came forward and revealed that their gender assignment had been much less successful than previously reported.

Transgender refers to the development of a gender identity which is discordant with gender of rearing and often also genital anatomy. If reported biological explanations are confirmed, gender of rearing will seem even less important in the determination of gender identity.

A different, and far rarer, type of discordance occurs if parents raise an anatomically normal boy as if a girl, or vice versa. Other manifestations of psychopathology in the parents are usually apparent; the children have not developed unconflicted gender identities.

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