Understanding identity and gender diversity: Working with trans and gender diverse people

Montage about identity and gender diversity
Table of Contents

    Introduction

    The focus of this CPD module is to increase understanding about identity and its importance in relation to gender diversity. Identity is an important aspect of our self which can be associated with social factors (such as our sense of belonging to a family or group) and psychological ones (such as self-esteem and emotional wellbeing). For people whose gender identity does not align with the ‘norm’ and who identify as trans or non-binary, they can face additional challenges such as harassment, discrimination, marginalisation and abuse, merely on the grounds of their gender identity. It is imperative that social workers who work with trans or non-binary people have a basic understanding of gender diversity and the everyday challenges for people who are gender diverse and can use this knowledge to inform inclusive, gender affirmative practice.

    This CPD module will cover:

    • Identity and minority populations
    • Terminology and gender diversity
    • Theorising gender and identity
    • Trans identity and the law
    • Social work practice with children and young people who are trans or gender diverse

    The importance of identity

    Identity is something that is not simply given or fixed. It is dynamic which means that your identity changes and is influenced by everyday experiences, as well as by individual emotions and cognitions. It is influenced by your position in society and by processes of positioning (where one person has power over another and seeks to position them in relation to themselves – as different, as the same, as equal, or as ‘other’). For example, by naming myself as an educator in social work and you as a student I am positioning you in relation to myself with me as the “expert” and you as “inexpert” and the person who needs to learn from me. In reality, you might know more about the topic (whatever this is) than I, and as we begin to interact, our positions (or positionality) will change.

    Over the years there have been ongoing attempts by academics to understand the complex set of phenomena that we think constitute our identity and the self [1]Ashmore, R., & Jussim, L. (1997) Self and Identity: Fundamental Issues. Oxford University Press.. In social and political theory, questions of identity underpin numerous arguments on gender, sexuality, nationality, ethnicity and culture in relation to socio-cultural environments and despite these current and detailed discussions about identity, people who self-label as a minority identity are often subject to discrimination [2]Brewer, M., & Leonardeli, G. (2001) Minority and Majority Discrimination: When and Why. The Ohio State University. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 36 (6): 468-485. and stigma [3]Schmitz, R., Robinson, B. & Tabler, J. (2019) LGBTQ+ Latino/a Young People’s Interpretations of Stigma and Mental Health: An Intersectional Minority Stress Perspective. Department of … Continue reading. This can result in “minority stress” [4]Frost, D.M., Lehavot, K. &Meyer, I.H. (2013) Minority stress and physical health among sexual minority individuals. Journal of behavioral medicine, 38(1): 1–8. . It is therefore evident that social workers should equip themselves with an informed understanding of identity and of people with minoritised identities. This is essential in order to understand social injustice on a grand and individual scale.

    The term minority has been defined in a number of ways [5]Loue, S. (2009) Sexualities and identities of minority women. London: Springer.. Layton [6]Layton, H. (2001) Minorities. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 9894-9898. suggests that a minority group is a group of people with common characteristics or interests, but that distinguish them from the majority of the population. The existence of a minority in society implies the existence of a corresponding dominant group, who enjoy higher social status and greater privileges [7]Loue, S. (2009) Sexualities and identities of minority women. London: Springer.. This distinction is critical as it implies a group who are similar (the majority) and those who are different (the minority). This is important too as it leads to distinctions between those who belong (the majority) and those who do not (the minority) in any given community or society.

    Reflection on identity and positioning

    Think about the different aspects of your identity whether these are personal or professional (e.g., ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, status as a mother/father) and how these enable you to achieve a positive sense of self. In terms of your professional identity as a social worker, this may give you a sense of belonging to a team, an agency and even a profession. If you were situated in a room full of police officers, you might not experience that same sense of belonging. How would this affect the way you feel, think and behave?

    Reflection on power imbalances

    Think about your first visit to an individual or family. You are a social worker. You know why you are visiting the individual or family. You have that knowledge and, therefore, intrinsically more power already. What do you think that individual or family might think and feel? Do you think they will be feeling nervously excited and giddy with anticipation; excited at the brink of the unknown? Or will they be feeling nervous, dubious, sceptical, fearful and anxious? These emotions are incredibly disempowering. Before you meet for the first time, how can you address this imbalance of power, positionality and privilege?

    Discussing minority populations requires an acknowledgement of unequal power relationships between groups within society [8]Given, L. (2008) Marginalised Populations. The Sage Encyclopaedia of Qualitative Research Methods, 1 (1). . Due to this imbalance of power, often minority groups experience barriers when accessing services and/or experience dissatisfaction with the services that they encounter [9]Greenwood, N., Habibi, R., Smith, R. & Manthorpe, J. (2014) Barriers to access and minority ethnic carers’ satisfaction with social care services in the community: a systematic review of … Continue reading. This is especially the case for trans and gender diverse people because of the fear of prejudice and discrimination particularly when enacted by people who lack a basic recognition and understanding of gender diversity. Often these fears are rooted to previous experiences which can make them harder to overcome.

    The barriers to support are prevalent in social work and social care [10]Hudson-Sharp, N. (2018) Transgender Awareness in Child and Family Social Work Education. London: DfE. Available at: … Continue reading and the relationship between social workers and minority groups can be turbulent [11]Beresford, P. (2007) The Changing Roles and Tasks of Social Work from Service Users’ Perspectives: A literature informed discussion paper. Shaping Our Lives.. The experiences of minority people are often shaped by hostile public policy landscapes which work against inclusivity and exacerbate marginalisation [12]Parker, J. & Crabtree, S. (2017) Social work with disadvantaged and marginalised people. London, UK: Sage.. Conversely, embracing diversity and promoting social justice is a fundamental part of social work practice [13]Hugman, R. (2012) Culture, Values and Ethics in Social Work. Routledge: London. and social workers must be able to recognise the complexity and diversity of identity and experience and apply this understanding to practice [14]Social Work England (2022) Professional Standards. Available at: https://www.socialworkengland.org.uk/standards/professional-standards/.

    Terminology

    It is of critical importance that as social workers we recognise that the use of language has the power to include/exclude, empower/disempower, support/discriminate and so on. Before we go any further, it is essential that you are clear about the distinction between gender and sex as the terms are not interchangeable:

    • Gender refers to the social and cultural differences that are associated with identifying as a man, woman or a minority gender identity and includes things such as norms, roles and presentation and behaviour.
    • Sex refers to the physical or physiological characteristics of a body including genitalia, chromosomes, and the endocrine system (hormones) that are usually attributed to a particular sex; either male or female.

    Theorising gender

    The concept of gender is multi-dimensional in that it can be understood on an individual level as an aspect of one’s identity or, on a structural level, it can be thought of as a form of social organisation, ordering and classification [15]Rogers, M., & Ahmed, A. (2017) Interrogating trans and sexual identities through the conceptual lens of translocational positionality. Sociological Research Online, 22(1). Retrieved from … Continue reading.

    Reflection

    Meme about Restroom and gender, depicting a disabled person, woman, man, non-binary and alien. Text reads Whatever, Just wash your hands

    Fogg Davis [16]Fogg Davis, H. (2017) Beyond trans: Does gender matter? New York: New York University Press. questions why we have gender categories. He prompts us to think about whether we need gender on birth certificates, or school and university admissions applications, or on bathroom doors. He asks why we need to mark people and places in this way. Do these practices merely serve as a mechanism to include or exclude people?

    In academia gender is generally understood to be a social construct. This means that it is an idea that has been created and accepted by the majority of people in a society and our understanding of this construct has developed through language. Most people understand gender to have two categories: man and woman. This gender binary (binary meaning something that has two parts) is the way in which most people think about gender. In terms of man/woman, boy/girl, blue/pink, being boisterous or gentle, or as a disciplinarian versus nurturing (we have added in some stereotypes there which, of course, are also socially constructed). However, because it is largely acknowledged that gender is a social construct, then it is possible to think about gender, not as binary, but as a spectrum which offers a wealth of possibilities for identifying in a gender that is not tied to the gender binary [17]Rogers, M., & Ahmed, A. (2017) Interrogating trans and sexual identities through the conceptual lens of translocational positionality. Sociological Research Online, 22(1). Retrieved from … Continue reading.

    gender spectrum showing feminine on one side and masculine on the other.

    Reflection

    Analyse your gender identity. Take the test yourself and see where you sit on the spectrum.

    https://365tests.com/personality-tests/male-or-female-brain/

    Over the past decade, there has been a notable expansion in the recognition of transgender (trans) and non-binary identities [18]LGBT Foundation (2017) Transforming Outcomes: A review of the needs and assets of the trans community. Available at: … Continue reading. This acknowledgement supports the idea that identity is not predetermined or fixed, nor is it binary. If you think about the way in which gender identity is assigned at birth – by a medical professional, usually a doctor – and our general agreement that gender identity is a social construct, then it is obvious that it is something that a person should and can have some control over.

    More terminology

    Aligned with the agreement of gender identity as a social construct, there has been a growth in recognition of gender diversity. If a person’s identity differs to the gender which was attributed at birth, then commonly they identify as ‘trans’ which is an umbrella term.

    • Trans can include identities which align with the gender binary including: trans woman; trans man; transgender woman; transgender man; Male to Female (MtF); Female to Male (FtM); a woman or man with a transgender history [19]Bachmann, C. L., & Gooch, B. (2018) LGBT in Britain: Trans Report. London: Stonewall..
    • Non-binary  is also a catchall term which comes under the trans umbrella which refers to identities that do not conform to the man/woman binary including: queer; genderqueer; genderfluid; gender neutral; gender diverse; gender questioning and gender non-conforming [20]Bachmann, C. L., & Gooch, B. (2018) LGBT in Britain: Trans Report. London: Stonewall..

    Some of these terms are explained in more detail here, and we have added some others that you might hear:

    • bi-gender – a mix of both genders (woman and man);
    • cisgender – someone who identifies in the gender that was attributed to them at birth are considered to be cisgender, or cis (which means on the same side);
    • genderfluid gender identity that fluctuates over time across a range of masculine and feminine identities;
    • gender nonconforming – people who do not conform to the gender expression, presentation, behaviors, roles, or expectations that society sees as the norm for their gender;
    • genderqueer * – another term to cover a range or identities and expressions that are not typically cisgender men and women;
    • gender questioning – refers to someone who is in the process of figuring out how to describe and label their gender identity, but has reason to think that they might be transgender or nonbinary;
    • pangendercovering all genders; 
    • polygender having more than one identity;
    • neutrois neutral gender;
    • non-gender (or agender)people who do not experience a sense of having any form of gender identity, beyond just being a person – a human being.
    • third gender a gender that is neither man nor woman.

    *You should note that the use of the word ‘queer’ is acceptable in this context, but it still causes discomfort for those who experienced, or witnessed, the persistent violent attacks on gay men, described at that time, as ‘queer’ [21]GIRES (2022) Gender Language.  https://www.gires.org.uk/resources/terminology/

    Watch Trans 101 – the basics

    Important to remember

    The identities listed here are merely indicative, not exhaustive, as it is important to acknowledge the diversity of trans identities [22]Dargie, E., Blair, K.L., Pukall, C.F., & Coyle, S.M. (2014) Somewhere under the rainbow: Exploring the identities and experiences of trans persons. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 23(2): … Continue reading and that terminology in this area changes frequently; it is an evolving field.  Furthermore, it is highly important to remember that a person’s experience of gender identity is subjective and should not be reduced to the biological or physical presentation of their sexed body. Nor should you assume someone’s gender identity merely by reading their behaviour or presentation. Finally, just as sex and gender are not interchangeable, gender and sexuality are different elements of identity, but you should not confuse or conflate the two. Just as cis people can be heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual or queer, it is the same for trans and non-binary people; again, it is important not to make any assumptions.

    Individual and structural prejudice: cisgenderism

    Rates of harassment, abuse, adversity and inequality for minority people from diverse backgrounds are high. These are often underpinned by prejudice and discriminatory views. In the case of trans people, the concept of cisgenderism helps our understanding in this regard. Cisgenderism is a prejudicial ideology that upholds another related social construct; that of gender normativity. Ideology simply refers to a system of ideas about a particular thing. Gender normativity refers to the notion that cisgender identities are natural and fixed, with heterosexual marriage and procreation between a cis man and a cis woman viewed as ‘normal’; any deviation from this is considered to be abnormal and wrong [23]Rogers, M. (2017a) Challenging cisgenderism through trans people’s narratives of domestic violence and abuse. Sexualities. DOI: 10.1177/1363460716681475.[24]Rogers, M. (2017b) The intersection of cisgenderism and hate crime: learning from trans people’s narratives. The Journal of Family Strengths, 17(2). Available at: … Continue reading. Cisgenderism is similar to a related prejudicial ideology – heterosexism which views heterosexuality as the norm and same-sex relationships as deviant and aberrant [25]Schilt, K., & Westbrook, L. (2009) Doing Gender, Doing Heteronormativity: ‘Gender Normals’, Transgender People, and the Social Maintenance of Heterosexuality. Gender and Society, 23(4): … Continue reading. Both are prejudicial ideologies similar to sexism and racism.

    Cisgenderism and heterosexism operate across different social levels (individual and structural) in that these can be present in an individual’s or organisation’s norms and culture [26]Rogers, M. (2017a) Challenging cisgenderism through trans people’s narratives of domestic violence and abuse. Sexualities. DOI: 10.1177/1363460716681475.[27]Rogers, M. (2017b) The intersection of cisgenderism and hate crime: learning from trans people’s narratives. The Journal of Family Strengths, 17(2). Available at: … Continue reading. Acts of cisgenderism can be intentional or unintentional. An intentional act of cisgenderism might be experienced as bullying, abuse or direct discrimination. It can take the form of misgendering which is the persistent, intentional use of a person’s former name or former pronoun that does not reflect how that person identifies. An unintentional act might be identified on a structural level represented by an existing, but outdated, law that serves to exclude trans people from a particular activity or organisation. Cisgenderism can lead to bullying, hate crime, interpersonal violence and abuse [28]Rogers, M. (2017a) Challenging cisgenderism through trans people’s narratives of domestic violence and abuse. Sexualities. DOI: 10.1177/1363460716681475.[29]Rogers, M. (2017b) The intersection of cisgenderism and hate crime: learning from trans people’s narratives. The Journal of Family Strengths, 17(2). Available at: … Continue reading (see the box below for types of identity abuse when enacted in a personal or intimate relationship).

    Identity abuse

    This includes:

    • Threats of outing through disclosure of gender identity to family, friends or work colleagues;
    • Threats of outing through disclosure of gender identity to officials (such as social workers for trans people with children);
    • Threats of outing of someone’s trans history;
    • Undermining someone’s sense of gender identity and exploiting a person’s internalised negative self-beliefs;
    • Limiting or controlling access to spaces and networks that are helpful when coming to terms with gender identity and/or when coming out;
    • Controlling someone by convincing them that no-one would believe the abuse is real (exploiting gender normative myths such as victims of abuse are known to be heterosexual women who experience physical violence from heterosexual men);
    • Manipulating someone into believing that abuse is a ‘normal’ part of a relationship for people who are gender diverse or pressuring someone into submission by minimalising abuse in the name of protecting the image of the trans community;
    • Withholding medication (e.g., hormones), preventing treatment (e.g., counselling) or hiding gender signifiers (e.g., clothing, accessories, wigs) that someone needs to express their gender identity or coercing someone into not pursuing medical treatment or gender reassignment;
    • Refusing to use someone’s preferred name, or the correct pronouns;
    • Pathologising practices by using derogatory names or ‘body shaming’ tactics (being derisory or ridiculing a person’s body image). [30]Rogers, M. (2020) Domestic violence and abuse and hard-to-reach groups. In Ali, P. & McGarry, J. (eds) Domestic violence in health contexts: A guide for healthcare professions. Springer: … Continue reading

    A note on terminology

    if in doubt, ask someone how they wish to be referred to in terms of both their name and their preferred pronouns. As the English language does not have any gender neutral individual pronouns, it might be useful to adopt the plural pronouns “they” and “their” as these do not denote gender [31]Stonewall (2016) Trans Inclusive Policies and Benefits. London: Stonewall..

    Gender and the legal framework

    The Equality Act 2010 states that you should not be discriminated against because you identify as trans (the Act reflects outdated language including referring to “transsexual” and gender identity as “gender reassignment”). To be protected from gender reassignment discrimination, a person does not need to have undergone any specific treatment or surgery to change from their birth sex to match their gender identity. This is because the Act recognises that changing your physiological or other gender attributes is a personal, social process rather than a medical one. An example of social transitioning might be if a person comes out to their employer and colleagues, or asks others to refer to them by their preferred name and pronouns.

    However, there is a call for the Act to be updated, as in addition to the use of incorrect terminology, the Act views gender in binary ways and is restricted to male and female. In addition, the restrictive approach of the Equality Act protects gender reassignment and not non-binary trans people [32]Feast, P. (2015) Enigmas of the Equality Act 2010: “Three Uneasy Pieces”. Cogent Social Sciences, 1 (1): 1-9.. This is limiting as a large number of trans people identify as somewhere on the spectrum between male and female, which remains unrecognised by the Equality Act [33]Abrams, M. (2014) Gender Spectrum: Exploring gender diversity in schools: a project based upon an investigation at schools that received Gender Spectrum training on the topics of gender and gender … Continue reading. There is also a lack of clear guidance, which has led to protection for trans people left open to interpretation [34]Feast, P. (2015) Enigmas of the Equality Act 2010: “Three Uneasy Pieces”. Cogent Social Sciences, 1 (1): 1-9..

    The Gender Recognition Act (2004) has provided many forms of protection for the trans community enabling individuals to have their gender legally recognised and legal protection from having a person’s former gender revealed without consent. The process of the Gender Recognition Act requires trans people to have a formal diagnosis of “gender dysphoria”, to have lived in their “acquired gender” for two years, and to go through a series of intrusive medical and psychiatric assessments. The decision about the individual’s gender is ultimately made by a gender recognition panel.

    The Act was pioneering but has more recently been criticised as its medicalised approach pathologises trans identities running counter to the dignity and personal autonomy of applicants [35]Women and Equalities Committee (2016) Transgender Equality. Available from: https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmselect/cmwomeq/390/390.pdf and, again, the Act is narrowly defined in binary terms, excluding non-binary, non-gender and intersex people [36]GIRES (2019) The Gender Recognition Act Discussion. Available at: gires.org.uk/the-gender-recognition-act-discussion-july-2019/. The combined effect of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the Equality Act 2010 is to conflate sex and gender irretrievably in a binary framework, and what remains is a set of contradictions, where people’s human rights cannot be properly invoked [37]Feast, P. (2015) Enigmas of the Equality Act 2010: “Three Uneasy Pieces”. Cogent Social Sciences, 1 (1): 1-9..

    Social work with trans and non-binary young people: So what?

    Social workers using a gender affirmative framework is consistent with core social work values, in particular those which foster integrity, uphold dignity and promote social justice [38]Austin, A. (2018) Transgender and Gender Diverse Children: Considerations for Affirmative Social Work Practice. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 35: 73-84. [39]Social Work England (2022) Professional Standards. Available at: https://www.socialworkengland.org.uk/standards/professional-standards/. However, trans people commonly report having poor experiences within social work and care settings [40]Hudson-Sharp, N. (2018) Transgender Awareness in Child and Family Social Work Education. London: DfE. Available at: … Continue reading. Local authorities often fail to equip social workers with gender identity related knowledge [41]Hudson-Sharp, N. (2018) Transgender Awareness in Child and Family Social Work Education. London: DfE. Available at: … Continue reading. Specific guidance for social workers working with trans children is minimal [42]Hudson-Sharp, N. (2018) Transgender Awareness in Child and Family Social Work Education. London: DfE. Available at: … Continue reading. As a result of this, there remains a lack of awareness about trans experiences among social service professionals [43]Shipherd, J. C., Green, K. E., & Abromovitz, S. (2014) Transgender clients: Identifying and minimising barriers to mental health treatment. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 14 (2): … Continue reading. This gap in social worker knowledge can result in trans children and young people experiencing poor care, offensive language and bullying [44]Sallens, R. (2016) Lessons from a Transgender Patient for Health Care Professionals. American Journal of Ethics, 11: 1139-1146. [45]Hudson-Sharp, N. (2018) Transgender Awareness in Child and Family Social Work Education. London: DfE. Available at: … Continue reading [46]Peng, K., Xuequan, Z. & Runsen, C. (2019) Self-reported Rates of Abuse, Neglect, and Bullying Experienced by Transgender and Gender-Nonbinary Adolescents in China. Available at: … Continue reading.

    Reflection

    Make a list of all the different things that might constitute a barrier to care and support for a trans young person. This might include previous experiences of bullying, and everyday microaggressions (e.g., offensive language). What else can you think of?

    Trans and non-binary young people have a range of transition-related needs, which require the support of informed practitioners with specific knowledge and skills [47]Austin, A. (2018) Transgender and Gender Diverse Children: Considerations for Affirmative Social Work Practice. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 35: 73-84.. Yet social work intervention can often be stressful and cause high anxiety in children; considering the emotional and challenging factors involved in gender transitioning in childhood, a trans young person may be wary of professionals due to previous experience or highly anxious about experiencing prejudice [48]Stotzer, R., (2012) Gender Identity and Social Services: Barriers to Care. Journal of Social Service Research, 39: 63-77.. These anxieties are understandable, considering that in a survey of 263 transgender youth, 33% said that they have experienced insensitivity or hostility by social services providers [49]Xavier, J., (2000) The Washington, DC Transgender Needs Assessment Survey final report for phase two. Washington, DC: Administration for HIV/AIDS of the District of Columbia. … Continue reading.

    Additional barriers and adverse experiences include: parental rejection; withdrawal of financial support; forced counselling; violence [50]Marrow, D. (2002) Social Work with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Adolescents. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Human Services, 85 (1): 91-99.; poor mental health [51]Dennell, B.L, Anderson, G. &McDonnell, D. (2018) Life in Scotland LGBT Young People. LGBT Youth Scotland.; transition related concerns such as dysphoria or a lack of access to health or legal information [52]Vance, S., (2015) Treating Transgender Youth: Pushing the Dialogue Forward. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57 (4): 357-358.. Dysphoria is defined as distress a person feels due to a mismatch between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth. Everyday pressures could include the expectation of trans young person to conform to certain roles, behaviour and responsibilities dependent on their gender [53]Richardson, L., (1998) The Dynamics of Sex and Gender: A Sociological Perspective. New York: Harper Collins. . Stresses might come from decisions about which bathroom to use in school [54]Weinhardt, L., Stevens, P., Xie, H., Wesp, M., John, S., Apchemengich, I. & Lambrou, N., (2017) Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youths’ Public Facilities Use and Psychological … Continue reading or “passing” effectively [55]Nicolazzo, Z. (2016) ‘It’s a hard line to walk’: black non-binary trans* collegians’ perspectives on passing, realness, and trans*-normativity. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in … Continue reading. Passing, in regard to gender identity, refers to a person’s ability to be accepted or regarded as a member of the gender with which they identify [56]Serano, J., (2007) Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, Seal Press, pp 154-5..

    These complex issues are difficult to navigate as a social worker who has minimal understanding about the impact of them on a transgender person. Poor experience of social services during youth, could potentially lead to a trans person avoiding social care in adulthood. Subsequently, this could lead to this already vulnerable population being at risk of poor mental health [57]Dheine, C., Vlerken, R., Heylens, G. & Arcelus, J. (2016) Mental health and gender dysphoria: A review of the literature. International Review of Psychiatry, 28 (1): 44-57., health issues [58]Grossman, A. & D’Augelli, A. (2007) Transgender youth and life-threatening behaviours. Suicide Life Threat Behaviour, 37(5): 527– 537., and domestic abuse [59]Rogers, M. (2017a) Challenging cisgenderism through trans people’s narratives of domestic violence and abuse. Sexualities. DOI: 10.1177/1363460716681475., having little confidence in relevant support services.

    Listen: Supporting LGBT Young People in Care

    Another Activity

    If you want to understand more, listen to Professor Julie Fish: Chair of social work and health inequalities at De Montfort University, Leicester and Matty Donaldson: Youth work and peer support coordinator at The Proud Trust, a charity that supports LGBT+ young people talking about social work with trans people.

    https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2018/10/10/social-work-transgender-people-good-practice-looks-like/

    Competent social work with trans and gender diverse people

    Attitudes

    • Reflect on your own gender identity, role and behaviour.
    • Reflect on previous contact with gender diverse people both personally and professionally.
    • Evaluate your and others reactions and attitudes to gender diversity, both in terms of positive and negative experiences and observations.
    • Evaluate the cognitive, emotional and behavioural aspects of responses to gender diverse people in order to develop awareness of potential cisgenderism.

    Knowledge

    • Take part in personal and professional activities that foster understandings of gender diversity including:
      • Key terminology related to gender diversity;
      • Demographic characteristics;
      • Intra-group diversity (that is, remember that trans and gender diverse people are different and unique)
      • Understand the extent of group or individual experiences of discrimination, harassment and oppression;
      • Remember the impact of legislation and social policies (particularly when these are outdated);           
      • Reflect on social work theories to inform practice and how these might be useful/inappropriate in work with trans and gender diverse people;
      • Community resources.

    Skills

    • Ask people what they wish to be called and which pronouns they prefer.
    • Assess and do not assume a person’s gender identity (or other aspect of identity such as sexual orientation).
    • Understand the challenges presenting in a person’s life holistically and do not assume there to be connections to their gender diverse identity.
    • Support service users who may be struggling with their gender identity.
    • Determine how ‘out’ a person is and who supports them, particularly if they are mid transitioning.
    • Include ‘families of choice’ in assessments and planning.
    • Refer people to specialist community resources (e.g., services for trans or LGBT people).
    • Explore conflicts in your own value base during supervision.
    • Engage in ongoing training and continuing education around gender diversity.
    • Acknowledge the social barriers faced by gender diverse people and try to ensure you address these (e.g., bathroom choices in public buildings).
    • Recognise the impact of cisgenderism in the everyday lives of trans and gender diverse people.
    • Challenge discriminatory or uninformed language and talk in your work environment.

    Useful organisations

    Beaumont Society

    Self-help organisation run by and for the trans community.

    Tel: 01582 412220

    www.beaumontsociety.org.uk/

    Equality Advisory and Support Service

    Advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights.

    Tel: 0808 800 0082

    www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/

    Galop

    Provides advice and support to people who have experienced biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexual

    violence or domestic abuse.

    Tel: 020 7704 6767

    LGBT Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428

    www.galop.org.uk/

    Gender Trust

    Provides support and information for anyone with questions concerning their gender identity.

    Tel: 01527 894 838

    www.gendertrust.org.uk/

    Gendered Intelligence

    Works to increase understandings of gender diversity and improve trans people’s quality of life.

    Tel: 0330 355 9678

    https://genderedintelligence.co.uk/

    Mermaids

    Provides support to gender-diverse children, young people and their families

    Tel: 0808 801 0400

    www.mermaidsuk.org.uk

    SAYiT

    Provides practical support to LGBTQ+ young people and professionals

    Tel: 0114 241 2728

    www.sayit.org.uk

    Stonewall

    Working for transformative change in the lives of LGBTQ+ people in the UK

    Tel: 0800 0502020

    www.stonewall.org.uk

    References

    References
    1 Ashmore, R., & Jussim, L. (1997) Self and Identity: Fundamental Issues. Oxford University Press.
    2 Brewer, M., & Leonardeli, G. (2001) Minority and Majority Discrimination: When and Why. The Ohio State University. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 36 (6): 468-485.
    3 Schmitz, R., Robinson, B. & Tabler, J. (2019) LGBTQ+ Latino/a Young People’s Interpretations of Stigma and Mental Health: An Intersectional Minority Stress Perspective. Department of Sociology, Oklahoma State University. 
    4 Frost, D.M., Lehavot, K. &Meyer, I.H. (2013) Minority stress and physical health among sexual minority individuals. Journal of behavioral medicine, 38(1): 1–8. 
    5, 7 Loue, S. (2009) Sexualities and identities of minority women. London: Springer.
    6 Layton, H. (2001) Minorities. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 9894-9898.
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