Creating a Minority Stress Index to Examine Mental Health Impacts of Discrimination Among Transgender and Gender Nonbinary Adults

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LGBT Health





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Purpose: This study analyzed the differing impact of discrimination on mental health outcomes among transgender and gender nonbinary (TGNB) adults. Methods: We utilized data from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Mental health outcomes included psychological distress, suicidal thoughts, and a suicide attempt. To determine the impact of discrimination categories, we utilized a weighted quantile sum (WQS) regression approach to create a minority stress index (MSI). The MSI included seven discrimination categories: interpersonal, workplace, health care, religious, public services, housing, and verbal and/or physical attack. Results: The average psychological distress score was 10.65 points (standard deviation = 6.05), range: 0-24. Nearly 82% and 39% of TGNB adults reported ever having suicidal thoughts and a suicide attempt, respectively. Verbal and/or physical attack and religious discrimination had the most significant weights in the MSI for each mental health outcome. Every 0.1 point increase in the MSI significantly increased the psychological distress score by 0.468 points (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.434-0.503; p < 0.0001), and the odds of suicidal thoughts and a suicide attempt by 27.07% (95% CI = 24.15-30.05; p < 0.0001) and 28.46% (95% CI = 26.34-30.61; p < 0.0001), respectively. Conclusion: This study introduces a novel method for analyzing experiences of minority stress in health disparities research. By using the WQS regression method, we were able to parse out the indicators of minority stress that had the greatest impact on mental health outcomes. There is a continued need for interventions to mitigate the high rates of suicidality and psychological distress among TGNB populations.


Psychological distress; Suicidal ideation; Suicide attempt; Weighted quantile sum regression


Developmental Psychology | Social Psychology

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