Session: Improving Programs for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth: Toward a Resilience Focused Research Agenda (Society for Social Work and Research 20th Annual Conference - Grand Challenges for Social Work: Setting a Research Agenda for the Future)

79 Improving Programs for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth: Toward a Resilience Focused Research Agenda

Friday, January 15, 2016: 9:45 AM-11:15 AM
Ballroom Level-Congressional Hall A (Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel)
Cluster: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Symposium Organizer:
Ashley Austin, PhD, Barry University
Comprehensively attending to the needs, challenges, and experiences of transgender and gender nonconforming (TGNC) individuals through informed research, practice, advocacy and education is recognized as a substantial challenge for social work in the 21st century.  TGNC individuals face disproportionate rates of harassment, discrimination, and violence throughout the lifespan and across settings including healthcare and social service settings (Grant, Mottet, Tanis, Harrison, Herman, & Keisling, 2011). TGNC youth may be especially vulnerable to homelessness, trauma, and suicide (Grossman & D’Augelli, 2007, 2006).  Nevertheless, TGNC youth exhibit tremendous strength in the face of adversity, demonstrating the ability to navigate the complex challenges of adolescence often within the context of hostile schools, families, and communities (Singh, 2013).  It is imperative that social workers commit to engaging in transgender specific research and scholarship that paves the way for informed and affirmative practice with TGNC youth.  An important component of providing affirmative services is the ability to identify and mobilize sources of resilience exhibited by TGNC youth.  This symposium aims to share the work of four social work researchers at the forefront of efforts to inform the development, implementation and delivery of resilience focused, transgender inclusive and affirming practices across community settings.

In the first paper, multiphase qualitative research aimed at informing the development and ongoing adaptation of a transgender affirmative intervention will be described. Phase one included collecting and analyzing data from focus groups with youth and providers to guide development, training, and implementation.  Post-treatment qualitative data from participants and facilitators suggests high levels of intervention acceptability, but also elucidates potential barriers. 

The second paper describes an open pilot study that determined preliminary feasibility of an affirmative cognitive-behavioural group intervention with a diverse sample of TGNC youth (n=8) between the ages of 16-18. AFFIRM participants experienced a significant reduction in depression and significant improvements in sexual self-efficacy and coping. These results indicate preliminary effectiveness,, feasibility, and utility of a community-engaged intervention for TGNC youth.

Using qualitative interviews, the third paper examined the experience of homelessness among TGNC youth. Homelessness presented multiple challenges for the 27 youth interviewed. However, the youth also described instances of affirmation and growth that occurred during their homelessness. These instances will be discussed, as will the implications of expanding our notions of homelessness solely as a mechanism for risk and violence to include possibilities for growth and the articulation of identity for TGNC youth.  

The fourth paper includes findings of a thematic analysis of TGNC youths’ (n=85) qualitative descriptions of their greatest challenge, accomplishment, and expectations of community-based programs. Resilience emerged in how the youth described their greatest accomplishment within contexts of oppression, and was connected to youth descriptions of hopes and goals associated with program involvement aimed at learning to manage oppressive and unaffirming environments.

Taken together the four presentations offer important findings to guide future research, as well as affirmative advocacy and practice with TGNC youth across multiple social work practice settings.

* noted as presenting author
Using Multiphase Qualitative Research to Develop an Affirmative Intervention for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth
Ashley Austin, PhD, Barry University; Shelley L. Craig, PhD, LCSW, University of Toronto; David J. Brennan, PhD, University of Toronto
The Preliminary Effectiveness of a Community-Based Affirmative Coping Skills Intervention for Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming Youth: The Affirm Open Pilot Feasibility Study
Shelley L. Craig, PhD, LCSW, University of Toronto; Ashley Austin, PhD, Barry University; David J. Brennan, PhD, University of Toronto
I'm Totally Transariffic: The Role of Community-Based Services in Promoting Resilience Among Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming Youth
M. Alex Wagaman, PhD, Virginia Commonwealth University; Stacey Jay Cavaliere, One n Ten; Kado Stewart, One n Ten
See more of: Symposia