- Gender bias and discrimination are currently some of the most pertinent topics being explored in counseling practice and counselor education and supervision. Because of all the public attention in recent years to the topics of transgender and marriage equality, the definitions of gender identity and gender roles have become more inclusive. This expansion includes definitions of gender identity that extend beyond the binary, to include gender neutral, gender non-conforming, gender fluid, and transgender. The current literature confirms that gender diversity and gender issues in counseling have been recognized as important components of multicultural competencies, counselor supervision, and counselor education. However, there is a dearth of empirical research investigating transgender discrimination issues in counselor supervision. Additionally, intersectionality has been described as an important framework of research exploring diversity. And yet, the topic of gender diversity in counselor education and supervision research has been neglected.
Based on the Theory of Intersectionality in diversity and existing definitions on gender identity and ageism, the intention of research in this dissertation is two-fold: (a) to understand how the construct of gender has been examined in the field thus far and (b) to contribute to filling some of the gaps in the research pertaining to transgender issues (such as transphobia) in counselor education and supervision. To address the first object, the researcher conducted a critical examination of recent literature since the publication of Hindes and Andrews (2011) critical review of the empirical studies and Nilsson, Barazanji, Scahl, and Bahner’s (2008) book chapter on the topic. Findings in this critical review revealed an overall scarcity of empirical studies on gender-related topics in counselor education and supervision and few empirical studies that expanded beyond the binary understanding of gender, included intersectional analyses, and discussed transgender/gender diverse specific issues. Findings further conclude that there are no existing studies that include intersectionality in counselor education and training issues related to LGBTQ MC competencies. Future research recommendations are also reviewed.
To address the second object, the researcher conducted an experimental design study to examine whether counseling supervisors’ evaluations of a counselor’s social influence attributes and ability to repair therapeutic rupture would differ when they were randomly presented with 1 of 4 counseling vignettes that differed only in the counselor’s gender identity (cis-gender female vs. transgender female) and age (younger vs. older). The researcher hypothesized that older transgender and cisgender females would be evaluated more poorly than their younger counterparts; and that transgender females would be evaluated the most poorly in both measures. Of the completed data records, the sample consisted of 76 participants from the CRF-S (Counselor Rating Form- Short version) and 69 participants from the SWAI-O (Segmented Working Alliance Inventory – Observer version).
Two-way t-tests and logistic regression analyses were used to test the study’s hypotheses. Findings indicate that there were no statistically significant results to support the hypotheses. Plausible reasons for the findings of non-significance are discussed. Despite the insignificant results, there was a suggestive finding related to survey break-offs (incomplete surveys). Namely, when respondents were assigned to Vignette B (older transgender female), logistic regression analysis showed that they were 26% less likely to complete the survey than those assigned to Vignette C (younger cisgender female). Although this was not a part of the original research questions, it is noted as a possible future research topic. Overall, this study contributes to the gap in existing empirical research by focusing on issues of discrimination based on transgender identity and age in counselor supervision despite the high probability of its insignificant results related to methodological issues.