Session: Dismantling Cisnormativity in the Development of Social Work Research: A Critical Turning Point (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

175 Dismantling Cisnormativity in the Development of Social Work Research: A Critical Turning Point

Thursday, January 21, 2021: 5:00 PM-6:00 PM
Cluster: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Vern Harner, MSW, University of Washington, Bec Sokha Keo, MSW, University of Houston, Cipactli Ovalle, BSW, University of Houston, Kristie Seelman, PhD, Georgia State University and G. Trey Jenkins, MSW, Arizona State University
Over the past 25 years, there has been increasing attention to supporting transgender and non-binary (NB) social work students and faculty, forefronting practice knowledge about working with trans/NB people, and developing theories and initiating research about gender diversity. There have also been notable efforts to document the experiences of and better support trans/NB social work college students (Austin et al., 2016). Social work is now at a critical turning point, with an opportunity to move from mostly focusing on curricular/campus improvements, theory, and research about gender diversity to grappling with more radical transformation of research infrastructure, methodology, and mentorship of trans/NB graduate students, including individuals who experience multiple interlocking oppressions (i.e., ableism, cis-sexism, racism, xenophobia, etc.). There is a vast history of social work knowledge production in relation to divergent bodies - and it is critical that the profession not continue to replicate research methodologies that treat trans/NB people as Other, passive, pathological, and the perpetual target of (cisgender) social work intervention. A growing number of trans/NB students are seeking out advanced research skills, and yet we are seldom prepared to support such students. This roundtable will focus on naming the systemic, intersectional challenges that impede social work's aims in tackling cisnormativity and cis supremacy in the development of social work research. The knowledge, critique, and discussion points of this roundtable will be grounded in the experiences of trans/NB graduate social work students, who form the majority of the panelists for this session. The fifth presenter is a cisgender tenured faculty member who regularly mentors trans/NB students and will offer examples of institutional barriers with research infrastructure around gender diversity. There will be two foci of the discussion. First, speakers will offer a critical, intersectional analysis of systematic oppression within academia and schools of social work that continue to stigmatize gender diverse people. Some examples in this area include the overlap of transphobia/cisnormativity with other forms of oppression (racism, ableism, etc.); the absence of trans communalism in academia; tokenism and greater academic work/advocacy demands for out trans/NB students and faculty despite a lack of economic support for this labor; and the disjointedness of social work research and practice competencies around trans/NB issues with culturally responsive approaches and community expertise. Second, the roundtable will include a discussion of challenges with social work research infrastructure for nurturing the development of trans/NB researchers. This includes the lack of trans-knowledgeable faculty mentors; the impact of neoliberal trends (e.g., expectations that research is income-generating) and the devaluation of community-based participatory action research; research curricula that continue to treat gender (and often race and ability) as dichotomous variables; the lack of trans/NB affirming knowledge and skills among research staff and administrators; and the political dynamics of institutional research centers, such as resistance to naming queerness in funded centers. Speakers will conclude by sharing tangible tips and strategies for addressing these issues and ways to hold institutions accountable to trans/NB people.
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