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Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Bending Gender, Ending Gender: Theoretical Foundations for Social Work Practice with the Transgender Community

By Barb J. Burdge , 2007

Gender is a ubiquitous social construct that wields power over every individual in our society. The traditional dichotomous gender paradigm is oppressive, especially for transgendered people whose sense of themselves as gendered people is incongruent with the gender they were assigned at birth. Transgendered individuals are targeted for mistreatment when others attempt to enforce conventional gender boundaries. This article discusses gender-based oppression and the resulting psychosocial difficulties experienced by many transgendered individuals. The discussion advances a critical analysis of the dominant gender paradigm using two alternative theoretical perspectives on gender–queer theory and social constructionism. The article argues that the transgender community is an at-risk population and that empowering practice with this population calls on social workers to target society’s traditional gender dichotomy for change. An overview of practice implications and research needs is provided.

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