MINORITY STRESS, RISKY BEHAVIORS, AND SEXUAL SCRIPTING AMONG TRANSGENDER COLLEGE STUDENTS: A MIXED METHODS STUDY
Despite more transgender and gender nonconforming students entering college, little is known about their minority stress and resilience experiences or about how minority stress and resilience factors influence their sexual scripts. Using the gender minority stress and resilience model (GMSR; Testa et al., 2015) and sexual script theory (Simon & Gagnon, 1986), the present study examined the influence of minority stress and resilience on the wellbeing and sexual scripts of an undergraduate transgender and gender nonconforming sample. GMSR theory posits that both distal (gender-based victimization, rejection, and discrimination, and identity nonaffirmation) and proximal (internalized transphobia and identity concealment) minority stress adversely affect the mental and physical health of gender minority individuals, while resilience (pride and community connectedness) factors buffer against this stress. Sexual script theory suggests that cultural norms inform sexual behaviors, attitudes, and expectations, which individuals adapt to fit their own interpersonal experiences (Simon & Gagnon, 1986). Recruitment took place primarily via paid advertisements on social media. The effects of gender minority stress and resilience on psychological outcomes (depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder) and health risk behaviors (alcohol and other substance abuse and risky sex) of 265 transgender and gender nonconforming undergraduates were examined. Additionally, sexual scripts provided by a subsample of 169 participants were analyzed. Results supported that minority stress predicted anxiety and depression. Distal stress predicted posttraumatic stress disorder, and proximal stress predicted hazardous alcohol use and sex with uncommitted partners. Minority stress failed to predict probable drug abuse and impulsive sex, altogether. Though resilience factors offered little buffer, when pride was low internalized transphobia had a stronger relationship with depressive symptoms. Sexual script themes resembled the types of sexual relationships found within the cisgender, heterosexual undergraduate population: ongoing romantic, negotiated one-time casual encounter, unplanned one-time casual encounter, and repeated casual encounter. Themes also diverged from those of cisgender peers in terms of gender roles within the sexual context and in a focus on gender-related stigma (e.g., concealment, expected rejection, etc.) and resilience factors, including sexual communication and negotiation, as well as acceptance within a nontraditional sex community or romantic partnership. Clinicians working with this population should strongly consider the role minority stress plays in depression and anxiety. Further, as a number of participants met sexual partners through online advertising, sex education programming should address online safety and STI prevention. More generally, gender minority inclusive policies and transgender specific spaces on campus could help reduce stigma. Future research should continue exploring what minority stress and resilience factors most strongly affect the health and wellbeing of transgender and gender nonconforming undergraduates. Further, researchers may want to investigate how minority stress and resilience factors differentially affect transgender subgroups. Finally, work examining the impact of minority stress and resilience on adjustment and health risk behaviors over time among transgender and gender nonconforming undergraduates is imperative.
Decker, Melissa. (July 2019). MINORITY STRESS, RISKY BEHAVIORS, AND SEXUAL SCRIPTING AMONG TRANSGENDER COLLEGE STUDENTS: A MIXED METHODS STUDY (Doctoral Dissertation, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/7426.)
Decker, Melissa. MINORITY STRESS, RISKY BEHAVIORS, AND SEXUAL SCRIPTING AMONG TRANSGENDER COLLEGE STUDENTS: A MIXED METHODS STUDY. Doctoral Dissertation. East Carolina University, July 2019. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/7426. October 31, 2020.
Decker, Melissa, “MINORITY STRESS, RISKY BEHAVIORS, AND SEXUAL SCRIPTING AMONG TRANSGENDER COLLEGE STUDENTS: A MIXED METHODS STUDY” (Doctoral Dissertation., East Carolina University, July 2019).
Decker, Melissa. MINORITY STRESS, RISKY BEHAVIORS, AND SEXUAL SCRIPTING AMONG TRANSGENDER COLLEGE STUDENTS: A MIXED METHODS STUDY [Doctoral Dissertation]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; July 2019.
East Carolina University