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Undergraduate Research Showcase

Undergraduate research is the exploration of a specific topic within a field by an undergraduate student that makes an original contribution to the discipline.

Gender Identity: Nature or Nurture?


My name is Christina van Hemmen and I am a Biomedical Sciences Major on the Pre-Medicine track. Medicine has always fascinated me and from a very young age I knew I wanted to be a doctor in some form. It wasn’t until I started at Valencia and met some amazing professors who supported me and taught me so much that I truly started believing I my potential. With hard work and motivation you can achieve anything, including becoming a surgeon! I am interested in research because I have always enjoyed to understand why things happen, and research is a great way to learn more about a subject. It has been great to have the opportunity to conduct some research at Valencia, since this will be part of my entire career in medicine and it has been an incredible learning experience.


ABSTRACT:  Nature vs. nurture is one of the most reoccurring statements made in psychology and medicine as a whole. With regards to gender identity these two sides are usually simplified to help the general public understand complex issues. It is within reason that the primary source of an individual’s gender identity is biological, even if one’s sex does not reflect their gender identity, while rigid social norms including parental upbringing, cultural differences, and certain responses from medical and psychological professionals tend to negatively impact individuals from expressing who they truly are. The hypothesis for this literature study therefore is that gender identity is mainly impacted by nature, where gender dysphoria is mainly caused by nurture. . When examining nature, one considers all the biological aspects such as the biochemistry within the brain and uses this to further research the matter. In nurture, one mainly considers the environmental and behavioral aspects of one’s life, such as upbringing and social interactions and uses these aspects to come to an explanation for the issue. The research presented demonstrates where prenatal brain development and natural brain function provides the most significant impact to gender identity. On the other hand, society’s impact (nurture) is primarily responsible for the negative outcomes of those with non-traditional gender identities.


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Faculty Mentor

Jane Maguire

Professor of Education

East Campus

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