Working with Gender Diversity: Trans, cis, non-binary and beyond

Saturday 19 October 2019 - Ireland

Led by Dr Meg-John Barker

We are in the midst of a massive moral panic about gender. We know that it is closely related to mental health struggles such as high rates of suicide, addiction, and violence among men, and high rates of depression, anxiety, body image, and self-esteem issues among women. However, attempts to question rigid binary notions of gender or to see gender as something that can be more flexible and fluid are often regarded as highly threatening.




Dr Meg John Barker,


Registration and coffee

Gender 101
What is gender? How does it work? How does gender “out there” in wider culture relate to gender “in here” in relation to our gender identities, expressions, and experiences? Drawing on their books How to Understand Your Gender and Queer: A Graphic History Meg-John kicks off the day by overviewing the history, sociology, psychology, and biology of gender, and how all of these things fit together. There’s an opportunity to consider our own understandings of gender, and those of our therapeutic approaches, as well as exploring gender as part of our wider intersectional make-up. The point will be made that we need to reflect on our own relationship to gender in order to work with clients around gender – and related – topics.


Cisgender – why gender is relevant to ALL our clients
Training on gender often focuses on trans – and sometimes non-binary – people, but gender is equally relevant to our cis clients (those who are not trans or non-binary). The links between toxic masculinity and mental health are clear, both in relation to suicide and addiction rates among men and the knock-on effects of men’s violence on other people. Similarly social norms of femininity are related to the high levels of depression, anxiety, and body image struggles in women. While cultural norms of masculinity and femininity are equally relevant to trans and cis clients, cis clients may well feel pressure to hold onto them particularly rigidly. In this session we’ll unpack gender stereotypes and how they impact people, exploring the effect they have on ourselves and on our clients.


Trans – working with clients in the midst of a moral panic
Every week there are multiple negative news stories perpetuating damaging myths about trans people and how they are treated within healthcare and elsewhere. In this talk we will consider the wider culture of transphobia that trans people are embedded in, particularly in relation to marginalisation stress and mental health struggles. Meg-John will address common myths which are circulating as well as considering experiences that fall under the trans umbrella beyond stereotypical representations. They will also discuss the Memorandum of Understanding against conversion therapy as it applies to trans people, and overview what gender affirmative therapy looks like.


Non-binary – beyond male and female
Over the last five years the idea that gender goes beyond male and female has finally reached popular understanding, and non-binary (NB) gender has become increasingly visible in mainstream and social media. The rapid changes in this area can leave many feeling confused and uncertain about how to work with clients across gender diversity. This talk will clarify what non-binary gender is, and the different experiences and identities that fall under the NB umbrella. It will consider the historical and cultural precedents for viewing gender as something other than binary, as well as highlighting the main issues faced by NB people and how therapists and counsellors might support clients through these.



Handouts and lunch included

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Self-funded x 2:


Certificates of attendance for 6 hours will be provided at the event


National Museum of Ireland
Decorative Arts & History
Collins Barracks
Benburb Street
Dublin 7


09.30 Registration and coffee
10:00 Start
11:15 Coffee
13:00 Lunch
15:30 Tea
17:00 End


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