Difference Between Gender and Gender Identity

Gender vs Gender Identity

Gender and gender identity are both related to one’s femininity or masculinity, but when you look for the difference, of course, there is a subtle difference between gender and gender identity. Gender characterizes one’s male or female roles and also it differentiates the males from females, based on many features. These features may include biological sex, socially accepted gender roles, social structures, and gender identity. On the other hand, gender identity is one’s awareness of his or her gender and having a private sense of being a man or a woman. Let us look at these terms and the differences between them in more detail.

What is Gender?

Gender gives somebody the roles in the society and it differentiates females from males. Gender identifies different tasks pertaining to different sexes. These tasks change from one society to another and also depending on the values and beliefs of the particular society. Almost all societies have different social and cultural roles for males and females separately. Gender is acquired by a small child by looking at or observing his or her environment. The child may look at the elders and try to follow them, and punishments and rewards related to different behavioral patterns may give them an opportunity to learn about them and what is expected from them.

While the term “sex” is mostly associated with biology, gender is used in social sciences. Thus, gender is not really about biological differences but social differences between the two sexes. However, one’s sex does have an effect towards his/her gender characteristics and socially defined gender roles.

Difference Between Gender and Gender Identity

What is Gender Identity?

Gender identity is a person’s private sense of being a man or a woman. By accepting the socially defined gender roles and behaviors, a person can be said to have developed a certain kind of gender identity about him or her. This is the basis of the formation of the social identity of a person. It is said that a child forms his or her gender identity between three to five years. Further, once the identity is formed, it is said to be very rigid and difficult to change. Child’s identification of gender may be affected by the influence of others, social expectations, and the child’s own personal interests.

A small child of three or four years may identify themselves as a girl or a boy, but he or she may not be fully aware of the social implications of gender and gender roles. There are cases with gender identity disorders where the biological sex of a person does not adhere to the socially defined gender roles or identities. However, gender identity helps a person to get used to his or her society and to adjust accordingly.

 Gender vs Gender Identity

What is the difference between Gender and Gender Identity?

Definitions of Gender and Gender Identity:

Gender: Gender is one’s identification of socially expected roles and differentiating him or her to be a male or a female depending on those features.

Gender Identity: Gender identity is one’s awareness of being a man or a woman, biologically as well as socially.

Formation of the Concept Gender and Gender Identity:

Gender: Gender is acquired by children depending on the social expectations and by observing their surroundings.

Gender Identity: Gender identity is formed as a result of the social influence and his or her own personal interests.

Acceptance of the Concept Gender and Gender Identity:

Gender: Accepting one’s gender depends on some features like biological sex, social expectations, and gender identity.

Gender Identity: Accepting gender identity mostly happened with the outside influence, and also the individual may have his or her own choice whether to form the identity as it is or not.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Bathroom gender sign via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
  2. Hanbok for man and female by Republic of Korea (CC BY-SA 2.0)