Gender and Sexuality Development

This page will review the following theories:

  • Cass’s Model of Sexual Orientation Formation
  • Fassinger’s Model of Gay and Lesbian Identity Development
  • D’Augelli’s Model of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Development
  • The Multidimensional Model of Worthington and His Colleagues
  • Gender and Gender Identity Development

Cass’s Model of Sexual Orientation Formation (1979)

  • Six Stages of Development
    • Prestage 1 – An individual identifies with the dominant heterosexual culture and understands that is the approved identification
    • Stage 1: Identity Confusion – An individual is cognoscente homosexual feelings or thoughts, becomes curious and/or anxious
    • Stage 2: Identity Comparison – An individual accepts the feelings and thoughts as homosexual, begins to deal with the society, peer group, and family member’s reactions
    • Stage 3: Identity Tolerance – An individual surrounds themselves with others who identify as homosexuals and begin to form a peer group for support and knowledge
    • Stage 4: Identity Acceptance – An individual outwardly acknowledges his or her homosexual but internally struggles, looks for cues from social group to determine the proper way to present him or her self to the public
    • Stage 5: Identity Pride – An individual deepens themselves in homosexual culture, often minimizing heterosexual peers; feelings of anger and strong political advocacy for gay rights and a less heterosexist society
    • Stage 6: Identity Synthesis – An individual integrates their sexual identity as part of their holistic identity, assimilates into dominant cultue with a secure and positive self-concept

Fassinger’s Model of Gay and Lesbian Identity Development (1996)

  • Individual Sexual Identity/Group Membership Identity Phases:
    • Awareness – Acknowledgement of people with different sexual orientations
    • Exploration – Begin to explore relationship with the homosexual community
    • Deepening/Commitment – Acceptance of homosexual identity and recognition of negative feedback this acceptance will garner
    • Internalization – Understanding identity as a minority with a dominant culture


D’Augelli’s Model of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Development (1994)

  • Three interrelated variables in identity formation (lifespan model):
    • Personal actions and subjectivities – An individual’s self-concept in relation to his or her sexual behaviors, feelings and thoughts
    • Interactive intimacies – an individual’s inner circle’s response and interactions with partners
    • Sociohistorical connections – Society’s view, demographics of residence, and beliefs
  • The Identity Development Process
    • Existing heterosexual identity – Acknowledgement of feelings and thoughts are not heterosexual in nature
    • Developing a personal lesbian/gay/bisexual identity status – An individual provides his or her own define to being homosexual
    • Developing a lesbian/gay/bisexual social identity – An individuals homosexual identity as it pertains to peer groups and social norms
    • Becoming a lesbian/gay/bisexual offspring – An individual’s success attempt to communicate his or her homosexual identity with parents/guardian and the consequence
    • Developing a lesbian/gay/bisexual intimacy status – An individual’s journey to a meaningful, intimate relationship, use of peer groups is sometimes necessary to facilitating the meeting process
    • Entering a lesbian/gay/bisexual community – An individuals recognition of injustices and triumphs and joining the community

The Multidimensional Model of Worthington and His Colleagues (Evans et al., 2010)

  • Six factors influencing the development of sexual identity:
    • Biology
    • Microsocial context
    • Gender norms and socialization
    • Culture
    • Religious orientation
    • Systemic homonegativity, sexual prejudice, and privilege
    • Development Statuses

Worthington et al. Heterosexual Identity Development Theory (2002)

  • Internal and external process of identification
  • Five Statuses:
    • Unexplored Commitment – An individual accepts heterosexual identity without any thought
    • Active Exploration – an individual’s curiosty of thoughts, feelings and actions which can lead to a educated commitment or sense of diffusion
    • Diffusion – A result of confusion can result in redefining heterosexual identity or exploration of all non-heterosexual acts
    • Deepening and Commitment – An individual’s better understanding of self as a heterosexual
    • Synthesis – An individual integrates his or her sexual orientation of heterosexual into a holistic self –concept.

Gender and Gender Identity Development (Evans et al., 2010)

  • Gender Binary Construct
    • Male
    • Female
    • Lev’s binary systems of sex, gender identity, gender role, and sexual orientation
    • Transgender
    • Cisgender Students
  • Bem’s Sex Role Types (1983)
    • High on masculinity and femininity: Androgynous
    • Low on masculinity and femininity: Undifferentiated
    • High on masculinity and low on femininity: Masculine
    • Low on masculinity and high on femininity: Feminine
  • Transgender Identity Development (Evans et al., 2010)
    • Existing a traditionally gendered identity – An individual understand the role of gender as an identity
    • Developing a personal transgender identity – An individuals identification as it relations to the transgender community
    • Developing a transgender social identity – an individual forms a support group and recognizes them as such during this identity development
    • Becoming a transgender offspring -An individual’s process of proclaiming his or her identity to their parents/guardians and the consequent reactions
    • Developing a transgender intimacy status – an individual’s positive self-concept allows him or her to share this identity and the rest of themselves with a partner
    • Entering a transgender community – An individual’s positive self-concept allows them to join the community in political and social actions and beliefs.


What is the role of student affairs professionals, specific to gender and sexual identity development?


Be there. Know the Resources. Help Individual Find His/Her Voice: Gender and sexual identity development is usually an invisible process. As such, administrators cannot readily be available for these students if/when they come to find answers or clarification. College is an ample time to for students to explore their sexuality and gender and it’s the role of student affairs administrators to make sure that there is a space for these students on campus, just as we do for any other student identity. PRIDE organizations are the most widely understood organization but having resources, counseling centers and a listening hear can also be just what the doctor ordered. Additionally, we have to be aware that these students have probably known this identity their entire lives, but the consciousness of the identity is what throws these students into disequilibrium. As we tend to do, the most important aspect of our jobs is to listen and guide, if we can commit to this a student may feel that much more willing to develop a healthy self-concept.

This page was written and created by Marc Wollenschleger. Please use the comment section below to ask questions, provide reflection, discussion and/or feedback. To contact directly about this page, please see Marc Wollenschleger at


2 Responses to Gender and Sexuality Development

  1. Trish says:

    Can you provide the full reference for the Evans et al., 2010 Transgender Identity Development model?

  2. thill63 says:

    Thank you for explaining Human Development Stages for the Transgender community. I am doing a paper for my Human Identity college class and this is the first website that give me supporting documentation in detail that I needed to finish.

    Thank you again,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s