Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Facilitating Career Development Concerns of Gender Transitioning Individuals: Professional Standards and Competencies

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

Facilitating Career Development Concerns of Gender Transitioning Individuals: Professional Standards and Competencies

Article excerpt

Gender transition is a complex process that entails various psychosocial challenges, including career development, to transitioning individuals. Career development practitioners are required to be knowledgeable of the current professional standards and competencies of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (2012) and the American Counseling Association (2010) to help gender transitioning individuals address career development concerns. In this article, the authors review these newly proposed professional standards for and competencies in working with gender transitioning individuals and highlight unique career development concerns of this population. Practical implications for career development practitioners are discussed.

Keywords: career development, employment, transsexuals, gender transition

Studies have shown that sexual minorities face unique career development concerns and challenges (Chung, 2003). The findings of many studies have suggested that, historically, sexual minorities have been marginalized in the field of career development and that practitioners are ill-prepared to serve members of sexual minority groups, particularly the transgender population (Carroll, Gilroy, & Ryan, 2002; Chung, 2003; O'Neil, McWhirter, & Cerezo, 2008; Pepper & Lorah, 2008; Sangganjanavanich & Cavazos, 2010). Although transcender is a general term used to refer to individuals whose gender and gender identity are incongruent with societal norms (Korell & Lorah, 2006), there are variations among transgendcr individuals (e.g., cross-dressers, androgynes, transsexuals). Transsexual 's a specific term that refers to a transgender person who decides to pursue the life of a desirable gender through sex reassignment surgery (SRS; Barclay & Scott, 2006). The process of changing one's gender is known as gender transition, which we discuss later in this article. This transition process, however, is complex and brings various physical, psychological, social, and occupational issues to one's life. For this article, a transitioning person refers to a transsexual individual who is going through gender transition from one's gender assigned at birth to another desirable gender (e.g., male-to-female [MTF], female-to-male [FTM]) that is congruent with one's gender identity.

For the past decades, multicultural counseling competencies (MCCs)- knowledge, awareness, and skills-require counselors to provide culturally appropriate services to diverse populations, including transgender individuals. Scholars have proposed strategies for working with specific sexual minority populations, such as gays and lesbians (e.g., Pope et al., 2004). However, there is a scarcity of existing career development literature aimed at providing guidance to career development practitioners working with the transgender population, especially transitioning individuals.

The purpose of this article is to respond to this need by offering career development practitioners ways to implement the current professional standards and competencies in working with transsexual clients during their gender transition to help these individuals mitigate career-specific concerns. These standards include the Standards of Care (SOC) for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH, 2012) and the Competencies for Counseling With Transgender Clients of the American Counseling Association (ACA, 2010). We link the standards and competencies to provide a more integrated context, specifically for working with gender transitioning individuals. When used together, these affirmative frameworks offer career development practitioners a sound foundation for addressing the unique needs of this population and fostering social change.

Gender Transition

To achieve congruence between gender and gender identity, gender transitioning individuals lace common challenges that pertain to transgender people, such as transphobia (i. …

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