Relations Between Gender Expression, Minority Stress, and Mental Health in Cisgender Sexual Minority Women and Men

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) individuals experience various minority stressors that account for increased mental health issues in comparison to heterosexuals, including experiences of prejudice (victimization and discrimination), expectations of encountering prejudice, internalized heterosexism, and identity concealment. Even so, some individuals may be more likely to encounter select minority stressors (e.g., prejudice) as a product of having a nontraditional gender expression. This study examined the role of gender expression in relation to these minority stressors and mental health in a sample of 383 sexual minority cisgender women and men (Mage = 39.3). Results revealed significant correlations between gender nonconformity and greater experiences and expectations of prejudice, as well as less identity concealment, greater psychological distress, and greater social anxiety. Two multiple mediation analyses were conducted to determine whether these minority stressors accounted for the association between gender nonconformity and mental health indices. Gender nonconformity and the minority stressors accounted for a significant amount of variance in psychological distress, F(10, 363) = 10.94, R2 = .23, as well as social anxiety, F(10, 363) = 9.32, R2 = .20. With all minority stress predictors included in the model, expectations of prejudice was the only significant mediator of the associations between gender nonconformity and mental health, for both psychological distress and social anxiety (B = 0.08, SE = 0.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.01–0.20]; B = 0.03, SE = 0.02, 95% CI [0.004–0.06], respectively). This study highlights the importance of considering gender expression in the conceptualization of LGBQ minority stress.

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