Critical and Radical Social Work
An international journal

Unmapping social work scholarship about gender self-designation: reconstructing the basis for engagement

Author: Rebecca Howe1
View author details View Less
  • 1 The University of Sydney, , Australia
Restricted access
Get eTOC alerts
Rights and permissions Cite this article

For a half-century, transgender studies and theory have existed alongside but disconnected from social work scholarship on providing services to people with self-designated genders. This article utilises unmapping as a methodology for tracing connections between normalised assumptions and power/knowledge hierarchies across four journal articles that present theoretically focused recommendations for social work in this area. Unmapping the academic discipline of social work as a space organised in particular ways reveals practices that discount and place limits on accepted knowledges. I argue that social work scholarship brackets itself off from broader transgender studies scholarship and transgender theory, and, in doing so, perpetuates social relations of dominance experienced by people with self-designated genders. I suggest that a premise of becoming consciously responsive enables continuing reflexivity, accountability and anti-colonial social work scholarship and practice.

  • Aizura, A.Z. (2018) Mobile Subjects: Transnational Imaginaries of Gender Reassignment, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • American Psychiatric Association (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group Australia et al (2017) Darlington Statement, Sydney: Australian Human Rights Commission.

  • Ansara, Y.G. and Hegarty, P. (2012) Cisgenderism in psychology: pathologising and misgendering children from 1999 to 2008, Psychology & Sexuality, 3(2): 13760.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Australian Association of Social Workers (2020) Code of ethics, www.aasw.asn.au/practitioner-resources/code-of-ethics.

  • Bennett, B. (2015) ‘Stop deploying your white privilege on me!’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement with the Australian Association of Social Workers, Australian Social Work, 68(1): 1931. doi: 10.1080/0312407X.2013.840325

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berkins, L. (2019 [1995]) Transness: the construction/deconstruction of our identity, in J. Berrout (trans), L. Berkins (ed) Selected Writings of Lohana Berkins, (Trans Women Writers Series Booklet No. 12), Trans Women Writers Collective, Online: https://www.patreon.com/posts/full-text-of-26491264

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boellstorff, T., Cabral, M., Cárdenas, M., Cotten, T., Stanley, E.A., Young, K. and Aizura, A.Z. (2014) Decolonizing transgender: a roundtable discussion, Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(3): 41939. doi: 10.1215/23289252-2685669

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burdge, B.J. (2007) Bending gender, ending gender: theoretical foundations for social work practice with the transgender community, Social Work, 52(3): 24350. doi: 10.1093/sw/52.3.243

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Callander, D. et al. (2019) The 2018 Australian Trans and Gender Diverse Sexual Health Survey: Report of Findings, Sydney: The Kirby Institute, https://kirby.unsw.edu.au/report/2018-australian-trans-and-gender-diverse-sexual-health-survey-report-findings.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chapman, C. and Withers, A.J. (2019) A Violent History of Benevolence: Interlocking Oppression in the Moral Economies of Social Working, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coleman, C.G. (2020) Aboriginal feminism and gender, National Gallery of Victoria, www.ngv.vic.gov.au/essay/aboriginal-feminism-and-gender/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coleman, E. et al. (2012) Standards of care for the health of transsexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people, version 7, International Journal of Transgenderism, 13(4): 165232. doi: 10.1080/15532739.2011.700873

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Connell, R. (2021) Transgender health: on a world scale, Health Sociology Review, 30(1): 8794. doi: 10.1080/14461242.2020.1868899

  • Davy, Z., Sørlie, A. and Schwend, A.S. (2018) Democratising diagnoses? The role of the depathologisation perspective in constructing corporeal trans citizenship, Critical Social Policy, 38(1): 1334. doi: 10.1177/0261018317731716

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Day, M. (2020) Indigenist origins: institutionalizing indigenous queer and trans studies in Australia, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 7(3): 36773. doi: 10.1215/23289252-8553006

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Diamond, S.L. and Kirby, A. (2014) Trans jeopardy/trans resistance: Shaindl Diamond (SD) interviews Ambrose Kirby (AK), in B. Burstow, B.A. LeFrançois and S. Diamond (eds) Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)Evolution, Ontario: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Garner, T. (2014) Becoming, Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1–2): 302. doi: 10.1215/23289252-2399515

  • Hicks, S. and Jeyasingham, D. (2016) Social work, queer theory and after: a genealogy of sexuality theory in neo-liberal times, British Journal of Social Work, 46(8): 235773. doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcw103

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hill, A.O., Bourne, A., McNair, R., Carman, M. and Lyons, A. (2020) Private Lives 3: A National Survey of the Health and Wellbeing of LGBTIQ People in Australia, Melbourne: Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health & Society (ARCSHS), La Trobe University.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Howe, R., Harper, A. and Hammoud-Beckett, S. (2019) Uncovering games of truth: a collaborative exploration of the ways transgender and non-binary young people access health care and support, in D. Baines, B. Bennett, S. Goodwin and M. Rawsthorne (eds) Working across Difference: Social Work, Social Policy and Social Justice, London: Red Globe Press, pp 13752, https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/SWPS/index.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Irving, A. (1999) Waiting for Foucault: social work and the multitudinous truths of life, in A.S. Chambon, A. Irving and L. Epstein (eds) Reading Foucault for Social Work, New York: Columbia University Press, pp 2750.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Land, C. (2015) Decolonizing Solidarity: Dilemmas and Directions for Supporters of Indigenous Struggles, London: Zed Books Ltd.

  • Latham, J. (2017) Making and treating trans problems: the ontological politics of clinical practices, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 18(1): 4061. doi: 10.1080/15240657.2016.1238682

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lennon, E. and Mistler, B.J. (2014) ‘Cisgenderism’, Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1(1-2): 6364. doi: 10.1215/23289252-2399623

  • Madrigal-Borloz, V. (2019) The Australian media’s portrayal of trans people is a betrayal of their human rights, The Guardian. 11 November, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/10/the-australian-medias-portrayal-of-trans-people-is-a-betrayal-of-their-human-rights

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Malatino, H. (2020) Trans Care, University of Minnesota Press.

  • McEwan, J. (2017) The momentary hap of bother, International Journal of Narrative Therapy & Community Work, 3: 4659.

  • McNair, R., Andrews, C., Parkinson, S. and Dempsey, D. (2017) GALFA LGBTQ Homelessness Research Project. Final report: LGBTQ homelessness: risks, resilience, and access to services in Victoria, https://apo.org.au/node/106146.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McPhail, B.A. (2004) Questioning gender and sexuality binaries: what queer theorists, transgendered individuals, and sex researchers can teach social work, Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services, 17(1): 321.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Miles, L. (2018) Updating the gender recognition act: trans oppression, moral panics and implications for social work, Critical and Radical Social Work, 6(1): 93106.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Moreton-Robinson, A. (ed) (2020) Sovereign Subjects: Indigenous Sovereignty Matters, London and New York: Routledge.

  • Nagoshi, J. and Brzuzy, S. (2010) Transgender theory: embodying research and practice, Affilia, 25(4): 431. doi: 10.1177/0886109910384068

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Namaste, V. (2000) Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • National Association of Social Workers (2021) Code of ethics of the National Association of Social Workers, www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nicholas, L. (2020) Whiteness, heteropaternalism, and the gendered politics of settler colonial populist backlash culture in Australia, Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society. 27(2): 237257. doi:10.1093/sp/jxz009

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O’Sullivan, S. (2019) A lived experience of aboriginal knowledges and perspectives: how cultural wisdom saved my life, in Practice Wisdom, J. Higgs (ed), Practice Wisdom: Values and Interpretations, Leiden and Boston: Brill Sense, pp 10712.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pearce, R. (2018) Understanding trans health: discourse, power and possibility, Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

  • Phillips, R. (2013 [1996]) Mapping Men and Empire: Geographies of Adventure, Routledge.

  • Povinelli, E.A. (2015) Transgender creeks and the three figures of power in late liberalism, Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 26(1): 16887.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Razack, S. (2000) Gendered racial violence and spatialized justice: the murder of Pamela George, Canadian Journal of Law and Society, 15(2): 91130. doi: 10.1017/S0829320100006384

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Razack, S. (2002) When place becomes race, in S. Razack (ed) Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society, Toronto: Between the Lines, pp 120.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rifkin, M. (2019) Unweaving colonial frames, restorying indigenous potentialities, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 6(1): 13740. doi: 10.1215/23289252-7253622

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Samios, Z. (2021) ‘Substantial distress’: press watchdog rebukes The Australian for reporting on gender issues, The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 September www.smh.com.au/business/companies/substantial-distress-press-watchdog-rebukes-the-australian-for-reporting-on-gender-issues-20210903-p58oi7.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Scheman, N. (2016) Looking back on ‘Queering the center’, Transgender Studies Quarterly, 3(1–2): 21219. doi: 10.1215/23289252-3334403

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shelton, J., Kroehle, K. and Andia, M.M. (2019) The trans person is not the problem: brave spaces and structural competence as educative tools for trans justice in social work, Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 46: 97.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Singer, B. (2013) Primer: What is Transgender Studies for the Twenty-First Century?, in S. Stryker and A. Aizura (eds) The Transgender Studies Reader 2 Companion Website, Taylor and Francis, https://routledgetextbooks.com/textbooks/_author/stryker-9780415517737/primer.php.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, E., Jones, T., Ward, R., Dixon, J., Mitchell, A. and Hillier, L. (2014) From Blues to Rainbows: The Mental Health and Well-Being of Gender Diverse and Transgender Young People in Australia, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), Melbourne: La Trobe University.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, K. (2017) Occupied spaces: unmapping standardized assessments in health and social service organizations, in D. Baines (ed) Doing Anti-oppressive Practice: Social Justice Social Work, 3rd edn, Nova Scotia: Fernwood Publishers, pp 27288.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Snorton, C.R. and Haritaworn, J. (2013) Trans necropolitics: a transnational reflection on violence, death, and the trans of color afterlife, in S. Stryker and A.Z. Aizura (eds) The Transgender Studies Reader 2, Vol 2, New York: Routledge. pp 6676.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Strauss, P., Cook, A., Winter, S., Watson, V., Toussaint, D.W. and Lin, A. (2017) Trans pathways: the mental health experiences and care pathways of trans young people. Summary of results. Perth: Telethon Kids Institute. https://www.telethonkids.org.au/projects/past/trans-pathways/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stryker, S. (2004) Transgender studies: queer theory’s evil twin, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 10(2): 21215. doi: 10.1215/10642684-10-2-212

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Trevor, M. and Boddy, J. (2013) Transgenderism and Australian social work: a literature review, Australian Social Work, 66(4): 55570. doi: 10.1080/0312407X.2013.829112

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Whittle, S. (2006) Where did we go wrong? Feminism and trans theory – two teams on the same side?, in S. Stryker and S. Whittle (eds), The Transgender Studies Reader, New York: Routledge, pp 21018.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Withers, A.J. (2014) Disability, divisions, definitions, and disablism: when resisting psychiatry is oppressive, in B. Burstow, B.A. LeFrançois and S. Diamond (eds) Psychiatry Disrupted: Theorizing Resistance and Crafting the (R)Evolution, Ontario: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • World Health Organisation (2020) WHO/Europe brief – transgender health in the context of ICD-11, www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-determinants/gender/gender-definitions/whoeurope-brief-transgender-health-in-the-context-of-icd-11.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 1 The University of Sydney, , Australia

Content Metrics

May 2022 onwards Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 69 69 67
Full Text Views 41 41 5
PDF Downloads 31 31 7

Altmetrics

Dimensions