The relationship between gender identity and psychological adjustment has long been investigated, but it is only in the 21st century that gender identity has been examined as a multi-faceted construct. According to Egan and Perry (2001), there are five dimensions comprising a person’s gender identity and they have demonstrated a significant relationship between these dimensions and youth’s psychological adjustment. Three of their gender identity constructs are pertinent to this study: gender typicality, gender contentedness, and felt pressure. While subsequent studies have had similar significant results (Carver, Yunger, & Perry, 2003; Yunger, Carver, & Perry, 2004), one study found that felt pressure was not negatively correlated with adjustment in minority youth, including Latinos, as it was with majority White samples from the previous studies (Corby, Hodges, & Perry, 2007).
Minority youth face more pressure to conform to gender stereotypes (Corby et al., 2007) and Latinos in particular face more rigid gender stereotypes than European American cultures (Corona, Gonzalez, Cohen, Edwards, & Edmonds, 2009). While having a strong ethnic identity has been significantly correlated with self-esteem in Latinos (Umaña-Taylor, 2004), the relationship between ethnic identity, gender identity, and self-esteem in Latino youth have been underrepresented in the literature (Mora, 2012). Since Latino male youth in particular are at-risk for low-self esteem (Twenge & Crocker, 2000) and self-esteem is a protective factor in adolescents (Hosogi, Okada, Fujii, Noguchi, & Watanabe, 2012), it is important to pinpoint variables that are related to high self-esteem.
The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between ethnic identity, gender identity, and self-esteem in an understudied population in the literature. The sample consisted of 55 males, aged 10-14, who are members of a school-based intervention program for boys at-risk of gang membership. The majority of boys were of Latino heritage. It was hypothesized that gender typicality and gender contentedness would be significantly correlated with self-esteem, and that ethnic identity would mediate the relationship between felt pressure and self-esteem. Statistical analysis yielded partial support for the hypothesis. Implications and future directions are discussed.