Call for papers: Social Work and Sexualities Conference 2020, Mumbai, India

Dear Sexuality and Social Work Interest Group members

It is with great pleasure that we can now announce that submission for papers for the “Social Work & Sexualities 3rd International Conference: Laws, policies, guidelines and gender-sexuality identities” is now open.

Abstracts of 350 words should be submitted by email to   with ‘SWSConf2020’ in the subject line, specifying in the e-mail whether your submission is for an oral, poster or a symposia/workshop presentation. Please find attached a flyer for more information.

We are very excited that our next international conference will take place at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India. It will be a great opportunity for the group to expand beyond Europe and North America and we hope to be joined by as many delegates as possible. It is understandable that November might be a busy month, however, August in India is extremely hot, and this is not an ideal month to host a conference.

We are putting together an exciting programme and we hope to see all our members in Mumbai 2020. Please share this information with your colleagues and friends and encourage them to join the group

We will keep you updated when conference registration will open and how to register.

If you have any questions, please do get in touch with us.

Kind regards
Alfonso, Missy and Ketki


Hello, introductions and way forward!


We would firstly like to thank Jason for introducing Missy and I as the new co-chairs for this group. Jason has been fundamental to the success of the group and the amazing conferences we have enjoyed over the years, which we thank him for.

Screenshot 2018-10-11 at 12.31.57

I am Alfonso Pezzella (some of you may know me from previous conferences); I am a

Screenshot 2018-10-11 at 12.21.14
Alfonso Pezzella

lecturer at Middlesex University London. Over the years I developed a strong research interest in gender and sexuality. Particularly, I am interested in the mental health and cultural differences of LGBTQ+ community and the experiences of coming out. I have a professional Twitter feed @AlfPezzella where I enjoy bringing the community together and discussing topics regarding mental health, LGBT+, psychology and education. You can also follow me on ResearchGate for my latest publications.

Missy Bird

As a writer, professor, life coach, and fiery public speaker, Dr Melissa Bird (Missy) creates the genesis for a new brand of leadership.  When she’s not building her public speaking Empire, she can be found reading trashy novels, drinking fine whiskey, playing mom to three delicious humans, and loving her punk rock scientist James Thomas Kelly. You can also connect with Missy at and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @birdgirl1001

We already have a few ideas which we will be putting forward to the group, but in the meanwhile we are updating our social media platform, twitter, Facebook and the blog.

We would really appreciate your help and support with this by sharing with us your news, events, papers and anything else you think would interest the group and we will make sure to circulate it.

We would also like to ask for your support in telling colleagues and students and the group, and encouraging them to join, follow us on twitter and like us on Facebook! While we know that Facebook is often used for personal interests, there is no reason for not following our group on twitter! And if you don’t follow us yet, please do and if you have not joined twitter yet, there is no better time than now!

If you have any ideas, questions or comments, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

All best wishes
Alfonso and Missy


Call for papers: deadline for submissions EXTENDED TO FEBRUARY 19th 2018 // Appel aux communications : date limite pour les soumissions REPOUSSÉE JUSQU’AU 19 FÉVRIER 2018


International Sexuality and Social Work Conference, August 8 – 10
th 2018

Topic: Sexualities, genders and intersectionalities: expanding contemporary social work issues


We invite papers on the theme of sexualities, genders and intersectionalities in social work within the following sub-themes exploring related populations and groups, associated issues and politics/service provision:

  • Geographical/regional cultural implications for sexuality
  • LGBT+ issues
  • Theoretical implications of queer and post-queer theory
  • Sexual politics and political activism
  • Indigenous sexualities
  • Issues related to sex work
  • Issues connected to living with HIV/AIDS
  • Intimacies
  • How sexuality and genders affect access to social services

For further details, click on the following link: Call for papers



Congrès sur le travail social et les sexualités, 8 – 10 août 2018

Thème: Sexualités, genres et intersectionnalités: élargissement des enjeux du travail social contemporain

Date limite pour les soumissions : 19 février 2018

Nous vous invitons à soumettre des communications portant sur le thème des sexualités, des genres et des intersectionnalités dans le travail social en tenant compte des sous-thèmes suivants et les communautés et les groupes apparentés, les enjeux associés et les politiques / offre de services :

  • Les implications culturelles géographiques / régionales sur les sexualités
  • Les questions LGBT +
  • Les implications théoriques de la théorie queer et post-queer
  • Les politiques sexuelles et le militantisme politique
  • Les sexualités autochtones
  • Les questions reliées au travail du sexe
  • Les questions reliées à la vie avec le VIH / sida
  • Les intimités
  • Les façons dont les sexualités et les genres façonnent l’accès aux services sociaux

Pour plus de renseignements, cliquez sur le lien suivant:  Appel de contribution


Sexuality and social work: how is the social worker doing? By Anke van den Dries

For more than 10 years now I have been working as a social worker assisting sex workers. Humanitas PMW in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, is a NGO that offers specialized support to anyone who makes or made money with sex, irrespective of for example the type of sex work, their gender, age, ethnicity or residence status. PMW follows the pro-sex feminist discourse by emphasizing sex work as a form of labour. PMW does not strive for actively getting people out of the job. At PMW, our mission is to contribute to the empowerment of sex workers on micro, meso and macro level and to the improvement of their labour position. Unfortunately we also meet clients who did not choose sex work voluntarily or were exploited as victims of trafficking: we also offer them specialized assistance.

The work at PMW is inherently connected to sexuality. Curiously, the way this job influences the sexuality and intimacy of the social worker seems to be a non-topic. I therefore made it into a research topic for my Master of Social Work. In this blog post I want to share some preliminary thoughts and reflections. I look forward to hear your ideas and experiences.

It is evident that social work can influence the health and wellbeing of the professional. Positive or negative moods from work can lead to positive or negative moods in the private life and vice versa. Literature on occupational influences like compassion satisfaction, compassion fatigue, secondary or vicarious traumatization and burnout are abundant[i]. Yet, talks on how occupational influences could enter the bedroom of the social worker, touching his or her sexuality and affecting the private intimate relationships, remain taboo.

Could this be explained from the myth portraying the social worker as the superman/-woman who is always strong and ready to help? Vulnerability could then be conceived as weakness, incompetence or shameful.[ii] Somehow ‘blaming the victim’ might apply to ourselves: although we advocate for compassionate treatment of our clients, when addressing occupational influences of colleagues, there seems to be a focus on individual coping strategies (or perceived lack of making adequate use of self-care or supervision), instead of classifying the influences as a manifestation connected to the specific profession.[iii] This could impede professionals from speaking up and addressing occupational influences. Considering the sensitivity of the topic, the barrier might be even higher considering in particular occupational influences on sexuality.

However, as we all know, social work assistance is greatly determined by the quality of relationship between worker and client and the ways in which the social worker uses his or her own self as a tool in the process.[iv] Caring well for this ‘tool’ is, therefore, of paramount importance.

In our team, we’ve now started to open up the topic, for example through a brainstorm board on which colleagues were invited to write down their ideas and experiences over a period of a few weeks. This form allowed for an asynchronous yet cumulative group discussion, respectful for anonymity and possible inhibitions.[v] Several occupational influences on the private wellbeing and particularly sexuality and intimate relationships of the social worker were found and visualised in a mindmap.[vi] Social workers described occupational influences on emotional and physical aspects of intimate partner relationships, and influences on their relational skills. They reported changed images of for example gender and porn. Also, it was mentioned that the experienced taboo or shame around the topic limits possibilities of consultation or support among colleagues. Further investigation of this topic will follow.

I am curious what your thoughts are on this. Are you aware whether your social work influences your sexuality? How do you use positive influences? How do you cope with negative influences (self-care / organizational care)? Could a persisting taboo on sexuality, the norm of keeping private life and work separated or the norm of being the strong professional contribute to underexposure of the topic? Until what extent is reflection on this by social workers non-committal or indispensable? Do workers actively need to be stimulated and encouraged within educational programs and their work place? What is the responsibility of the employer in caring for the employee in this?

Feel free to contact me at

Anke van den Dries

[i] E.g. Bride, B.E. (2007). Prevalence of Secondary Traumatic Stress among Social Workers. Social Work, 52(1), pp. 63-70 / Lloyd, C., King, R. & Chenoweth, L. (2002). Social work, stress and burnout: a review. Journal of Mental Health 11(3), 255-265 / Newel, J.M. & MacNeil, G.A. (2010) Professional Burnout, Vicarious Trauma, Secondary Traumatic Stress, and Compassion Fatigue: A Review of Theoretical Terms, Risk Factors, and Preventive Methods for Clinicians and Researchers. Best Practices in Mental Health 6(2), 57-68.

[ii] Maes, J. (2007). De hulpverlener: tussen afstand en nabijheid. Retrieved at 25 October 2015, from %20NA.pdf

[iii] Bober, T., & Regehr, C. (2006). Strategies for reducing secondary or vicarious trauma: Do they work? Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 6(1), 1-9.

[iv] E.g. Vries, S., de (2014). Wat werkt? De kern en kracht van het maatschappelijk werk. Amsterdam: SWP / Payne, M. (2014). Modern Social Work Theory, Hampshire/New York: Palgrave Macmillan / Wampold, B.E. (2015). How important are the common factors in psychotherapy? An update. World Psychiatry, 14(3), pp. 270-277.

[v] Swanborn, P.G. (2006). Basisboek sociaal onderzoek. Amsterdam: Boom onderwijs.

[vi] For mindmap see

Conservative Christian Beliefs and Sexual Orientation in Social Work: Tackling the tough questions

by Adrienne Dessel, PhD

The work involved in “Conservative Christian Beliefs and Sexual Orientation in Social Work: Privilege, Oppression and the Pursuit of Human Rights” seems to have only widened in terms of where we are in the U.S. with regard to oppression, privilege, and human rights. While we now have a recent Supreme Court ruling that made marriage equality legal nationwide, the backlash of anti-LGBT legislation ranges from Title X rulings granting waivers to ban LGBT students to the state of Tennessee ruling that therapists with “sincerely held principles” can legally refuse to see LGBT clients. There seems to be a widening of the gap in religious circles too in terms of how social workers are dealing with these issues. This book takes a look at the many facets of Christianity with regard to LGB issues, a biblical, methodological, and ethical analysis, and ways to transform the conflict through intergroup dialogue and other methods. Issues such as referring out and how to mediate some of the tensions are key, as well as ways to be both Christian and affirming.

About the author:

Adrienne Dessel, PhD, LMSW is Co-Associate Director of The Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR) and Lecturer in the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan. Her community consultations include social justice education for public school teachers, and evaluation of LGBT education services. She teaches courses on intergroup dialogue facilitation, the social psychology of prejudice and intergroup relations, and global conflict and coexistence. Her research focuses on intergroup dialogue processes and outcomes, on topics of Arab/Jewish conflict, religion and sexual orientation, gender, and dialogue facilitator learning. Her recent co-edited book is Conservative Christian Beliefs and Sexual Orientation In Social Work: Privilege, Oppression, and the Pursuit of Human Rights.

You can reach her at

Relationships: What Keeps People Happy?

by Dr Priscilla Dunk-West, Senior lecturer in social work, Flinders University, South  Australia


In Britain, the ESRC funded research project Enduring Love asked the question: what are people’s experiences of long-term relationships? Amongst other academic outputs, Gabb and Fink (2015) have written a book on the findings of the study in which they set out the day-to-day meanings and practices of people in long-term heterosexual and same sex relationships. Unlike other studies which focus on relationship breakdown or divorce, the findings of the Enduring Love study can help to demonstrate how relationship ‘practices’ – for example, doing good things for one another—help to increase relationship quality. More recently, the Enduring Love survey was completed by Australian and American couples in long-term relationships, which, combined with UK data, meant that over 8000 people have told researchers about their relationships.

One of the questions in the survey sought to better understand how people in relationships make sense of the way the other person makes them feel. The question asked respondents to name what makes them feel appreciated. Making someone a daily cup of tea or other small gestures were found to be incredibly important to people in helping them feel appreciated and loved. This finding is counter to the more traditional or stereotypical grand symbols of romance which feature heavily in mainstream movies and fiction. Rather, it’s the little things that matter.

The findings of the study have a range of practice implications, such as helping to better understand how a strengths-based approach can be used to assess relationship quality. For couples, sometimes those little things are forgotten so asking oneself: ‘what does my partner do that makes me feel appreciated?’ can help to serve as a reminder of all those little, everyday gestures which make people happy in their relationship. More about how to ‘make relationships last’ can be found in this new book.

In relation to the research, my role was to roll out the Australian survey (using the UK instrument) and analyse the data. I have been researching in sexuality since my undergraduate days in sociology (over 25 years ago) and have been in practice as a sexual health counsellor/ sex therapist where I saw individuals and couples for a range of intimacy and sexual issues. My PhD research sought to focus on ‘everyday sexuality’ in order to use data to understand the day-to-day issues that individuals face around intimacy. My research is concerned with sexuality, intimacy, relationships and identity.


‘Compound Harms: What the Literature Says About U.K. and U.S. Transgender Young People in Survival Sex’ By Lorna Barton, PhD Researcher

Transgender (trans)* young people engaging in survival sex in the United Kingdom and the United States is a major research gap and this blog will introduce a limited selection of compound harms featured in a broader interdisciplinary literature review compiled for my PhD thesis. I will firstly highlight trans young people and homelessness, secondly, homeless service access, thirdly trans young people’s recruitment into the street economy and survival sex, and lastly their public visibility to law enforcement.

In the US, trans young people experiencing homelessness who engage in ‘survival sex’, defined as the exchange of sex for food, shelter, money or other items, are marginalised by structural and institutional inequalities concerning gender, race and for some, sexual orientation (Walls & Bell, 2011). Current research from fields such as social work, psychology, homelessness, health, criminal justice and sex work indicates that trans young people in the US experience elevated levels of discrimination. This discrimination takes the form of health and wellbeing disparities related directly to their gender identity falling out with binary norms of male and female. These disparities span family, peers, community, education, healthcare, employment and law enforcement/ justice systems (Cochran et al. 2002; Ray, 2006; Winn, 2011; Hussey, 2015). It should be highlighted that trans youth of colour are disproportionately represented within the research regarding economic inequalities and involvement in the juvenile justice system (Reck, 2009; Rosario, 2009; Talburt, 2010). They are also reported to experience some of the highest levels of adversity in their daily lives due to the intersectionality of transphobia, poverty and racism (Peterson, 2013)

The chief causal factor in trans young people becoming homeless appears to be conflict at, or ejection from, home after having been either ‘found out’ or revealing their gender identity and/ or sexual orientation (Ray, 2006; Mottet & Ohle, 2008; Reck, 2009; Yu, 2010; Rosario, 2012; Albert Kennedy Trust, 2014; Hussey 2015). This, together with a lack of understanding of their unique physical and emotional needs by social services and youth homelessness services, causes trans young people to feel safer on the street (Mottet & Ohle, 2008; Yu, 2010). Fulfilment of basic needs initiates them into the street economy where, among other activities, they may use sex work as a means of survival (Dank et al. 2015). As a consequence, trans young people become more visible in public spaces and law enforcement target them as a result of this visibility. Trans young people are often the victims of police harassment as well as becoming casualties of profiling and are frequently arrested, resulting in their involvement in the juvenile justice process (Dwyer, 2011; Ventimiglia, 2012). I believe that this introduces them into a cycle of survival/ arrest/ incarceration, homelessness, criminal (in)justice and progressively lower societal standing and life trajectories.

My research aims to explore trans young people’s lived experiences in both the UK and US comparatively as no such research has been undertaken previously. There is also a major gap in UK research on trans young people engagement in survival sex while experiencing homelessness and/or their involvement with youth justice/ criminal justice systems. I will be undertaking fieldwork in both the UK and US during the coming year academic year (2015-16) and using emancipatory/ advocacy methods to gather data, including Oral History life history interviews and PhotoVoice.

*Transgender is a frequently used umbrella term for individuals who do not conform to gender norms or cultural expectations.  It can encompass cross-dressers, transvestites, drag queens, butch dykes, bull dykes, transsexuals (those who identify emotionally and psychologically as the gender opposite to their birth) and those who wish to transition via hormone injections and gender confirming surgery; transwoman (male-to-female), transman (female-to-male) and many more gender identities (Spicer, 2010).  In this study however, the shorter term of ‘trans’ has been chosen due to recent discussions I have had with members of the trans community in attending a UK based trans conference where the full term ‘transgender’ was no longer used as it was viewed as exclusionary.  It was felt that ‘transgender’ excluded those individuals who identify as gender fluid, genderqueer, gender-non-conforming and non-binary; i.e. do not want to live as or be identified as either binary male or female.


Albert Kennedy Trust, 2014. LGBT YOUTH HOMELESSNESS: A UK NATIONAL SCOPING OF CAUSE,PREVALENCE, RESPONSE, AND OUTCOME. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 10 January 2015].

Cochran, B. N., Stewart, A. J., Ginzler, J. A. & Cauce, A. M., 2002. Challenges Faced by Homeless Sexual Minorities: Comparison of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Homeless Adolescents with their Heterosexual Counterparts. American Journal of Public Health, 92(5), pp.773–777.

Dank, M., Yahner, J., Madden, K., Banuelos, I., Yu, L., Ritchie, A., Mora, M., & Conner, B., 2015. Surviving the Streets of New York: Experiences of LGBTQ Youth, YMSM, and YWSW Engaged in Survival Sex. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 28 February 2015].

Dwyer, A., 2011. Policing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Young People: a Gap in the Research Literature. Current Issues in Criminal Justice, 22(3), pp.415 – 433.

Hussey, H., 2015. Beyond 4 Walls and a Roof: Addressing Homelessness Among Trans Youth. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 8 March 2015].

Mottet, L. & Ohle, J., 2008. Transitioning Our Shelters: Making Homeless Shelters Safe for Transgender People. Journal of Poverty, 10(2), pp.77–101.

Peterson, N., 2013. The Health and Rights of Transgender Youth. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 1 June 2015].

Ray, N., 2006. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 27 November 2014].

Reck, J., 2009. Homeless Gay and Trans Youth of Color in San Francisco: “No One Likes Street Kids”—Even in the Castro. Journal of LGBT Youth, 6(2-3), pp. 223–242.

Rosario, V. A., 2009. African-American Transgender Youth. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 13(4), pp.298–308.

Spicer, S.S., 2010. Healthcare Needs of the Transgender Homeless Population. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 14(4), pp.320–339.

Talburt, S., 2004. Constructions of LGBT Youth: Opening Up Subject Positions. Theory Into Practice, 43(2), pp.116-121.

Ventimiglia, N., 2012. LGBT SELECTIVE VICTIMIZATION: UNPROTECTED YOUTH ON THE STREETS. The Journal of Law and Society, 13, pp.439–453.

Walls, N.E. & Bell, S., 2011. Correlates of engaging in survival sex among homeless youth and young adults. Journal of sex research, 48(5), pp.423–436.

Winn, L., 2011. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. U.S. State Department of Health and Human Services: Learning from the Field: Programs Serving Youth who are LGBTQ2-S and Experiencing Homelessness. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 5 February 2015].

Yu, V., 2010. Shelter and Transitional Housing for Transgender Youth. Journal of Gay & Lesbian Mental Health, 14(4), pp.340–345.

About the author

Lorna is a first year PhD Candidate in the Psychology, Social Work and Allied Health Department at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) with a research focus on trans young people and their use of survival sex while experiencing homelessness. Lorna’s theoretical interests include Queer Theory; Liminality, Critical Theory and Intersectionality. She is interested in Gender Studies; Sex Work Research and the policing of bodies which transgress heteronormativity. Lorna is also a graduate teaching assistant within the social work department of GCU and a passionate trans activist.