Social Work Faculty Publish in the International Journal of Social Work Values & Ethics

Dr. Kristin Heffernan, Dr. Jason Dauenhauer, and Dr. Nicole Cesnales published an article that looks at how both the physical environment and cultural climate of a human service agency can prevent individuals from obtaining services.

The article “Feeling Competent isn’t Enough: The Social Worker’s Role in Creating Positive Space and Promoting Trans-Affirming Practices”  looks at why health and social care service agencies need to develop positive spaces that affirm individuals’ identities.

This cross-sectional study explores master’s-level social work (MSW) practitioners’ perceptions of competence and comfort in working with persons who identify as transgender and highlights ethical and cultural considerations that impact service participation for transgender and nonbinary persons.

Surveying a national sample of MSW-level practitioners, the authors explore practitioners’

  1. education, training, competence, and comfort of social workers when working with transgender persons;
  2. perceptions of artifacts used as part of the culture of their agencies (e.g., language on intake forms, brochures, pamphlets, and wall art); and
  3. awareness of organizational, state, and federal policy about persons who identify as transgender.

Based on the findings, the authors suggest that social work agencies and the social workers within them need to take a leading role in assessing their agency’s culture to ensure that they are providing a safe space for transgender, nonconforming clients, and employees. Additionally, social workers should continually assess their competence and ability to provide trans-affirming services, and practices using validated standardized tools.

Back to Brockport Today


Kristin Heffernan (

Posted: April 12, 2023