Transgender and gender expansive; social work practice; social work education; policy


The social work profession is guided by the values of social justice and the dignity and worth of the person. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics requires that all social workers act in a professional manner consistent with these values. These values mandate that social workers “challenge social injustice on behalf of and in concert with vulnerable and oppressed individuals and groups.” Yet, historically, and contemporarily, the social work profession and national professional organizations (i.e., NASW, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), Associate of Social Work Boards (ASWB), Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR), and the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (AASW) have failed to advocate for and work in solidarity with transgender and gender expansive (TGE) individuals and groups to advance social justice. This commentary will examine how the social work profession and its national professional organizations have not followed the NASW Code of Ethics as it relates to T E communities. Specifically, the article ill (1) unpack the ways in which explicit and implicit social work curriculum and standards in accredited US social work programs do little to equip students to effectively serve transgender clients and communities upon graduation, (2) discuss the lack of advocacy for and solidarity with TGE communities from professional social work organizations, and (3) review policies governing the licensure of social work practitioners related to culturally responsive social work practice with TGE clients and communities. This commentary provides a set of recommendations for countering and reducing transphobia in the social work profession in the areas education, practice, and policy. We conclude with a call for change for the social work profession that achieves the values of social justice and dignity and worth of TGE individuals, groups, and communities.

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