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Effects of Trans Discrimination on Mental Health through Social Support

Haley L Bell, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Although many transgender and gender-diverse (TGD) individuals are happy and healthy, relatively higher rates of adverse mental health among TGD populations persist in the United States as compared to cisgender populations. Gender minority stress and resilience (GMSR) theory aids in contextualizing adverse mental health within an environment of persistent anti-trans discrimination and stigma (Testa et al., 2015). Nondiscrimination legislation may decrease rates of discrimination, which may then relate to improved TGD mental health. Social support is an additional factor that likely influences the relationship between TGD discrimination and mental health. The current study was guided by the following research questions: (a) Does nondiscrimination legislation significantly predict trans discrimination? (b) Does trans discrimination significantly predict mental health, as indicated by depression and life satisfaction? (c) Does social support significantly moderate the relationship between discrimination and mental health indicators? The sample included 288 TGD adults who completed an online survey of demographic and legislative questions, as well as the Transgender Discrimination Scale-21, Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Satisfaction with Life Scale, and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. Descriptive statistics and structural equation modeling were used to analyze data. Findings did not support adequate model fit for the proposed model. There was also lack of support for a relationship between nondiscrimination legislation and experienced discrimination or a moderating role of social support. An alternative model was explored with social support indirectly impacting the relationship between discrimination and mental health, which findings supported. Direct relationships between discrimination and social support, as well as social support and mental health indicators, were also supported by the data. Not all model fit indices met adequate standards though. Results point to the need for continued research on the role of social support and impacts of legislation. Strengths-based intervention and prevention efforts were also indicated.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Bell, Haley L, "Effects of Trans Discrimination on Mental Health through Social Support" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI29162859.