Friday, December 25, 2015

Stigmatization and Mental Health in a Diverse Sample of Transgender Women

Purpose: Previous research indicates elevated risk for psychological distress in sexual and gender minority populations, and some research suggests that stigma contributes to elevated psychological distress among members of these groups. This study examined the hypothesis that exposure to transgender-related stigma (TRS) is associated with both higher levels of depression and anxiety among transgender women.

Methods: We analyzed data from a diverse sample of 191 adult transgender women living or working in the San Francisco Bay area who were recruited using purposive sampling methods to participate in a cross-sectional survey, which included measures of stigmatization, depression, and anxiety.

Results: Higher levels of exposure to TRS were independently associated with higher levels of depression (β=0.31, P<.001) and anxiety (β=39, P<.001), adjusting for self-reported health and sociodemographic co-variates. Associations between stigmatization, depression, and anxiety were not moderated by participants' age or race/ethnicity.

Conclusion: Findings suggest a need for counseling interventions to address the role of stigmatization as a factor potentially contributing to psychological distress among transgender women. This research further highlights the need to develop a stronger evidence base on effective counseling approaches to improve the mental health of transgender women.

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By:   Mei-Fen Yang, MPH,1 David Manning, ScM,1 Jacob J. van den Berg, PhD,2 and Don Operario, PhD1
1Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Brown University School of Public Health, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
2Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.

Address correspondence to:
Don Operario, PhD
Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Brown University
121 South Main Street
Providence, RI 02903

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