Social work education, research, and practice occurs in a social context, which operates from the assumption that everyone is cisgender and that privileges cisgender people. As such, cissexism and cisgenderism permeate social work classrooms, scholarship, and practice. Social work institutions, often unthinkingly replicate cisnormativity, cissexism, cisgenderism, and anti-trans bias, harming not only their trans, nonbinary, and gender expansive students directly, but also impacting all trans and gender expansive clients served by any of their students as well.
This chapter identifies ways in which cisnormativity is enacted within social work in an effort to begin to disrupt this system of oppression and dismantle harmful ways of thinking and acting. It unpacks five common practices identified by Blumer, Ansara, and Watson (2013) (binarizing, misgendering, erasure, pathologizing, and marginalization), which reify cissexism and cisgenderism. It then offers strategies to combat cisnormativity, cissexism, and cisgenderism within social work systems and institutions to better support ourselves, our students, and our clients.