A Qualitative Approach to Intersectional Microaggressions: Understanding Influences of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality, and Religion

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Microaggressions are subtle forms of discrimination, often unintentional and unconscious, which send negative and denigrating messages to various individuals and groups. Previous literature has focused on microaggressions of singular identities, with little attention to the impacts of intersectional microaggressions (i.e., subtle forms of discrimination that may be influenced by more than 1 identity). The current study utilized a unique qualitative technique to address 2 central goals: (a) to explore whether qualitative analysis is an effective way to examine intersectional microaggressions and (b) to examine whether people with multiple identities could identify intersectional microaggressions in their everyday lives. Utilizing Qualitative Secondary Analysis (QSA) and Consensual Qualitative Research (CQR) methods, the researchers analyzed data from 6 previous qualitative studies with self-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, women, Filipino Americans, multiracial people, and Muslims (N = 80). Sample themes include (a) Exoticization of Women of Color, (b) Disapproval of LGBT Identity by Racial, Ethnic, and Religious Groups, (c) Assumptions of Inferiority or Criminality of Men of Color, and (d) Gender-Based Stereotypes of Muslim Men and Women. Implications for psychology (particularly for research and practice) are discussed. Finally, the authors advocate for the use of secondary analysis of qualitative data, to understand concepts that would not have been studied or reported through a singular qualitative analysis.

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