Reflections on Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going
June 15, 2014
My contribution to Transgender Studies Quarterly
May 27, 2014
Today I received my copy of the inaugural issue of Transgender Studies Quarterly (Duke University Press), entitled "Postposttranssexual: Key Concepts for a Twenty-First Century Transgender Studies." It consists of eighty-six short original essays that "begin to elucidate a conceptual vocabulary for transgender studies," as well as essays on arts and culture, new media technologies, and the flourishing of transgender studies. This is phenomenal work brought to us by editors Paisley Currah and Susan Stryker.
My piece is a global perspective on transgender cultural competency, and addresses the need for systemic cultural competency in health services, education, government agencies, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, and others throughout society. Here is an excerpt:
"Rather than a body of knowledge that can be learned in an afternoon workshop, training series, or course, cultural competency is a lifelong process of engagement. Critiques of the concept of cultural competency highlight concerns that people sometimes view the work as short-term, or that power imbalances are not examined, instead preferring the term “cultural humility,” which emphasizes self-evaluation and non-paternalistic approaches.
"Indeed intersectionality, or multiple systems of oppression and discrimination, exist for many transgender people. Systematic injustice and inequality occur not just based on gender identity and expression, but also within overlapping experiences of race, gender, socioeconomic class, ability, sexual orientation, health status, linguistic capability, migration, and other characteristics. Transgender cultural competency requires recognition and commitment to genuinely understanding and working to address the multiple parameters that impact so many transgender lives. Within this framework of intersectionality, transgender cultural competency involves an understanding of terms, identities, and concepts associated with transgender and gender nonconforming communities; utilizing culturally appropriate language and behavior for addressing and working with transgender populations; broadening understanding of the myriad socioeconomic, health, and legal issues that transgender people face; and developing and implementing culturally appropriate systems and service approaches for working with transgender individuals and families."