Title

"Trans-forming" Congregate Care: Toward Meeting the Needs of Transgender Youth in Residential Facilities

Date of Award

7-15-2009

Document Type

Doctoral Capstone

Degree Name

Psy.D.

Department

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lynett Henderson Metzger, J.D., Psy.D.

First Committee Member

Shelly Smith Acuña, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

N. Eugene Walls, Ph.D.

Keywords

Transgender, Congregate Care

Abstract

Several reputable organizations and experts in the field of psychology make a compelling case for staff trainings in congregate care that focus on stigmatized or marginalized populations, including transgender [trans] youth (see, e.g., American Psychological Association, 2008; Meyer et al., 2001). Those who care for youth in treatment are often unprepared to work with trans youth specifically, because these adolescents are poorly represented in multicultural curricula, trainings and research. This lack of knowledge makes it challenging to provide conscientious, responsible care. Research shows trans youth have medical, psychological, social, and spiritual struggles that are distinctly different from gay, lesbian and bisexual people, yet the needs of these different groups are often confounded. Given these realities, the concerns of trans youth warrant their own training focus. Trans-specific trainings can also alter the congregate care culture, creating a climate of safety and support for trans youth.

The information in this manuscript and sample exercises in the Appendix provide congregate care professionals with the conceptual tools needed to begin the process of designing a training protocol for staff that would meet the unique needs of trans youth. The accompanying Appendix, comprised of Handouts, Group Activities and Discussions, is a practical application of the conceptual literature review. In the literature review, a common language is established, in which definitions and concepts about trans people are thoroughly explained. Obstacles to care and limitations to research and training opportunities are also reviewed. Five goals for "trans-forming" congregate care are then presented as part of a comprehensive philosophy of training that emphasizes ethical, competent and supportive care for trans youth. The goals are as follows: Goal 1-Understanding the History of Legal, Social, and Political Marginalization of Transgender People; Goal 2-Applying Multicultural Competence Standards to Direct Care Professionals; Goal 3-Affirming Gender Identity Development and Multiple Identities; Goal 4-Recognizing The Complexity of Diagnosis; and Goal 5-Addressing Health Concerns: Psychological and Medical Risks. Potential areas for further research and exploration are also noted. It is hoped that this manuscript offers the opportunity to create the highest standard of care to clients identifying as transgender in congregate care settings.

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