Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Transgender children-Psychology, Gender identity, Biopsychological, Empirical, Transgender children-Counseling of, Parents of sexual minority youth-Counseling of


This original empirical study explored why consensus about best practice models for working with gender nonconforming children and their families has not been reached, and identified practice frameworks available to assist clinical social workers in meeting the social and emotional needs of this vulnerable population. The experience and perspectives of 14 Canadian gender identity experts were elicited through self-developed, semi-structured interviews composed of questions that encouraged professionals to reflect on their opinion as to why the debate about how to best respond continues, as well as, their philosophical and theoretical approach to caring for gender nonconforming children and their families. Major findings confirmed the controversies surrounding different approaches to care, and the intensity of the ongoing debate in Eastern Canada where two theoretical approaches to care dominate: 1) an affirmative practice framework and 2) a developmental biopsychosocial treatment model. Key findings suggest that the lack of empirical data to support practice and treatment modalities, the complexity of caring for these children, provider anxiety, and the prevailing power of the traditional treatment approach contribute to the lack of consensus. The implications of this study suggest that future research explore further development of affirmative interventions for gender nonconforming children, the efficacy of an affirmative approach, as well as, the impact of theoretical practice frameworks on the social and emotional wellbeing of the individual child and family system.




iv, 129 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 111-118)

Limited Access until August 2019