Contesting genderism in Hong Kong: Chinese social work students’ learning experience on Kwaa-sing-bit issues

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

Background: Kwaa-sing-bit is a Chinese word that can be loosely translated to mean a transgender or gender variant individual. Transgender individuals represent a diverse spectrum of gender expressions. A recent study examining experiences of 91 transmen and transwomen indicated that 46% of the informants suffered from mental health risks due to social discrimination. Genderism is a cultural belief that perpetuates negative attitudes to transgender people who do not present as men or women according to traditional definitions of gender roles. Those who have this belief may perceive transgender individuals as pathological, which may induce psychological shame, and mental health risks on transgender people. Issues and research gap: Scholars in sexuality and gender studies in Hong Kong suggest that mental health professionals, including social workers have loud “voices for social conservatism” on gender and sexuality issues. It is important to enhance social workers’ competence to work with people from transgender communities through specific learning strategies. Very limited research has been conducted to examine the training experiences of social workers on transgender issues in both international and local context. Methodology and preliminary results: This presentation will focus on our understandings of Hong Kong social work students’ learning experience on transgender issues. The data was collected from a qualitative research of a teaching and development project on cultural competence of social work students. We explore students’ perspectives on effective teaching strategies to confront genderism in Chinese cultural context. The results found that at the initial stage, students had a common pre-assumption that cross-gender experience or identity is pathological, mostly from religious and Chinese cultural perspective. Students faced value dilemma when discussing case studies related to gender variant issues. Through the contacts with transgender panel members, students started to have awareness of own transphobia, and to embrace gender fluidity of the panel members. Implications for future research and social work education within Hong Kong cultural context will be discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

Citation

Kwok, D. K. (2014, July). Contesting genderism in Hong Kong: Chinese social work students’ learning experience on Kwaa-sing-bit issues. Paper presented at the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development, Melbourne, Australia.

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