Gender identity is an issue that affects an individual’s lifespan development. Today the question of gender identity is acute for people who struggle to find themselves in a world full of stereotypes and misunderstandings. It is vital for a social worker to develop strategies to help such individuals and their families to understand what gender identity is and overcome prejudices that they have around it.
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Society more tolerant now despite the fact that misconceptions around gender still exist and can affect one’s coming-of-age. Because of the generation gap, some adults cannot react adequately when their child struggles with gender identity. This aspect is influenced by genetic and non-shared environmental factors (Burri et al., 2010). Understanding of gender comes from examining one’s family and environment outside an individual’s household.
A person begins to explore their gender during preadolescence years. Young people start identifying the gender when they experience the development of secondary sex characteristics (Pleak, 2009). It is the time when parents and their children have a conversation about gender identity to understand the severity of the issue. If an adult ignores this problem, it may lead to anxiety, depression, and lower self-esteem of a child.
Adulthood is the period of inner exploration and greater identity. During the ages of 18 to 25, a “coming out” process of accepting one’s gender identity or sexual orientation can be followed by various forms of discrimination and oppression (Ferguson & Miville, 2017). Because of such intolerance, people who identify themselves with the LGBTQ+ community seek out mental health services more frequently than heterosexuals.
The LGBTQ+ community is not willing to attend hospitals or clinics due to intolerance from therapists. Studies show online treatment helps minorities because they feel more comfortable on the Internet (Brewster & Moradi, 2010). One strategy for a social worker to treat the LGBTQ+ community is to reach out to them through the Internet and become a “friend” who understands them more than society does.
For a social worker, it is important to be aware of methods to treat individuals of the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to gender identity or sexual orientation. Prejudice can harm the community; thus, social workers must be educated and research the topic thoroughly. Right strategies such as becoming a person who simply understands what members of the LGBTQ+ community experience might help a lot.
Brewster, M. E., & Moradi, B. (2010). Personal, relational and community aspects of bisexual identity in emerging, early and middle adult cohorts. Journal of Bisexuality, 10(4), 404-428. Web.
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Burri, A., Cherkas, L., Spector, T., & Rahman, Q. (2011). Genetic and environmental influences on female sexual orientation, childhood gender typicality and adult gender identity. PloS ONE, 6(7), e21982. Web.
Ferguson, A. D., & Miville, M. L. (2017). It’s complicated: Navigating multiple identities in small town America. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 73(8), 975-984. Web.
Pleak, R. R. (2009). Formation of transgender Identities in adolescence. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 13(4), 282-291. Web.