Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Transgender people-Identity, Gender identity, Queer theory, Critical discourse analysis, Social work with sexual minorities, Transgender, Gender, Social work


This study critically examines the current discourse in social work on transgender individuals in an attempt to be a starting point for those seeking to gain a better understanding of the ways in which the profession has conceptualized and served this population over the last 25 years. Queer theory and critical discourse analysis were used to analyze a final sample of 30 social work articles that focus on the transgender subject. Analytical focus was aimed at the production and reproduction of social norms, particularly those that function through heteronormativity, as well as forces of power operating within the discourse. Through this study, researchers are recognized as having the power - through their choice of problem formulation, design, recruitment methods, and language and eligibility criteria to influence what voices are heard, what identities are represented, and which gender identities are framed as the norm. The findings of this study suggest that social work professionals must continually question their assumptions and recognize the ways in which gender functions to regulate individuals. By recognizing discourse as power, we should be able to shift societal perceptions of transgender individuals, ultimately moving professional conceptualization beyond the current perception of transgender as "other" to the creation of a "center" that can encompass all gender identities. As social workers, we cannot truly help people to thrive and to actualize their full selves without a constant self-questioning about our biases and assumptions and without continually conducting and consuming research and education through a more rigorous critical lens.




iii, 74 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 62-74)