Social work education, transgender, brave space, cultural competence


Social work students must be equipped to confront injustice and oppression. Effectively challenging oppression necessitates attention to the ideological origins and subsequent systematic marginalization of oppressed populations. This article critically examines social work education as it relates to trans people and communities. We propose two interconnected pedagogical shifts for consideration: moving from the social work classroom as “safe space” to the social work classroom as “brave space,” and broadening the commonly used educative method of cultural competence to structural competence. We argue that these pedagogical shifts will better prepare social work students to disrupt cisgenderism and dismantle the gender binary, and to be responsive across multiple axes of power, privilege, and oppression—necessary measures for advancing equity and justice for trans people and communities.

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