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Gershman, H. (1968). The Evolution of Gender Identity. Am. J. Psychoanal., 28(1):80-90.

(1968). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 28(1):80-90

The Evolution of Gender Identity

Harry Gershman, M.D.

The Original title of this paper was “The Evolution of the Sexual Image.” However, upon reflection I became increasingly dissatisfied with the term “Sexual Image.” Both words seemed too constricted. The word “sexual,” in spite of Freud's attempt to broaden its meaning to include almost all feelings, continued to be synonymous with genital, whereas the word “image” gives the connotation of a fixed concretized symbol, devoid of the dynamism which I feel is its most important element. What I have in mind concerns itself with the feeling of being masculine or feminine, with all of its nuances and ramifications, in addition to sexual implications. The term “gender” connotes, for me, psychological aspects of behavior related to masculinity and femininity. It does not have the same meaning as “sex.” A person's sex is the result of a number of factor's: chromosomal, external and internal genitalia, hormonal states, and secondary characteristics produced by estrogens. Sex is biological; gender is social. For a person to function, and to be either masculine or feminine, there must be a congruence between the biological and social. Since my interest is in the domain of the psychological, I believe the words “gender” and “identity” are closer to what I wish to express. I use the term identity as synonomous with self, as Horney1 conceived of it—as a dynamic composite of the idealized self, actual self, and real self.

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