Track: Safety and Security
Commitments: Engaging all Voices; Advancing Equity

Level of Learning: Learner

This presentation will leverage storytelling to explore the complex journey all men take, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, to navigate their own maleness and to connect that journey to the larger context of effective, responsible social services. The origin of the presentation is three guys finding an amazing array of similarities and a meaningful set of differences in their own personal histories of working out the notion of masculinity.

While one is a transgender, queer male; the second is a cisgender, heterosexual male; and the third is a cisgender, bisexual male, the complexities of "being a man" proved to be universal and important for the larger environment of school and foster care within which they all work. The presenters have continued to explore these conversations and examine the research that guides the implications, particularly in the areas of resilience for boys and young men, program models that incorporate aspects of masculinity, and interventions for LGBTQ youth.

Common questions explored during this workshop include:

  • How do social service programs best support young men in navigating issues of masculinity and maleness?
  • How do fatherhood and "big brother" programs succeed and do they fail our LGBTQ kids?
  • Are boys less resilient than girls?
  • Do heteronormative expectations for boys damage their resiliency?
  • What does "being a man" mean for foster youth?
  • Should we counter the effects of trauma in boys differently than we do for girls?
  • What are the implications for residential programs?

Learning Objectives

  • Connect personal experiences of masculinity with issues of identity and expression in school and social service environments
  • Intersections of masculinity, trauma, resiliency, and health
  • Gender-based resilience data and gender-specific interventions to increase resilience
  • Pros and cons of intervention models based on "maleness"
  • Current landscape of social services for LGBTQ youth, particularly trans boys and men


  • Ethan Johnstone, independent consultant, MSW research intern, Winthrop University
  • TJ Rumler, trauma informed specialist, Greenville County Schools
  • Jed Dews, executive director, Pendleton Place

Ethan Johnstone

MSW Research Intern
USC Upstate

Ethan Johnstone has been involved in the leadership and organization of Southern LGBTQ advancement efforts since coming out as transgender at age 28. Growing up in a small, Southern city, he learned firsthand the difficulties of being part of the marginalized. Recognizing the considerable lack of resources and support for trans people in his area, he began working to build a community and develop a network of resources.

He created a transgender resource guide for the Southeastern U.S., published a name change guide for transgender people in South Carolina, and organized and led the first trans support group in the Upstate of South Carolina. He works closely with Greenville Health System, the largest health system in South Carolina, to educate providers and develop best-practices for working with LGBTQ patients.

Johnstone is now pursuing his master’s of social work degree and works as a consultant to provide workshops, training, and talks on trans issues.

TJ Rumler
Trauma Informed Specialist
Greenville County Schools

TJ Rumler serves as a social worker and trauma informed specialist for Greenville County Schools. With his passion for early intervention for at-risk youth, he has provided mental health supports and case management services in several school-based roles.

Prior to his move to secondary education, Rumler worked in emergency shelter coordination for the homeless, and, as a U.S. Army veteran, managed cases for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Jed Dews
Executive Director
Pendleton Place

Jed Dews is the executive director of Pendleton Place, a nonprofit dedicated to keeping children safe and supporting families in crisis through prevention, assessment, and intervention. He provides strategic support for day-to-day administration and operations of the organization's innovative child and family services as well as oversight for its quality improvement and technology initiatives.

Before discovering his passion for nonprofit child welfare, Dews worked as a high school language arts teacher, a project manager for prominent e-learning companies, and a freelance consultant for nonprofit accreditation seekers and foster care reform advocates. When not working, his favorite things include being an uncle, dueling piano bars, and vintage bow ties.